Tag Archives: Morayshire

Lizzie Riach’s little black book

A while ago I wrote about my Aunt Dolly’s autograph book, a book that I had looked through many times as a child, pondering over the small painting and pencil sketches and wondering who had taken the time to write within its pages.

Original white heather

Original white heather

While looking through my ‘stuff’, mainly photographs, I found my mum’s autograph book. Many of Aunt Dolly’s entrants had been nurses at Stanley Royd, family and friends, mum’s was different and at the moment it seems fitting to write about the people in Lizzie Riach’s little black book, as the other day it was 70 years since the war ended  in Europe and most of the writers in the little book are members of the forces.  Wouldn’t it be nice for a relative to find their entry now, years, many years later!  Or what would be even better, would be for someone who wrote their little dittie to see it  – and wouldn’t it be fantastic if they remembered my mum!

Opening the book, Jimmy (James 427), in March 1943, also wants the privilege of being first.  The following page has two twigs of white heather still sticking to the page by their original tape.  Eve Cook, writes simply ‘ To one of the nicest girls I’ve known, Best always’, she goes on to say ‘not so primitive as I sound’.  What did that mean?  Obviously, it meant something to Eve and my mum.

To Ann, wishing you all the happiness you deserve – for they who look only for the best in everyone they meet are too rare’ .  Neville Sibley, Dunearn House, 26 Jan. ’43.  Who was Neville and where is or was Dunearn House?  That was an easy one, a quick google, and there it was!  I know it is the correct one, Dundearn House, Burntisland, as mum served in the A.T.S. at Burntisland during WWII. Now to answer the question ‘Was Dunearn House a billet during the war or did it have some other purpose.

Neville Sibley

Neville Sibley

Dunearn House, source not known but acknowledged

Dunearn House, source not known but acknowledged

No drawing, no little dittie or simple sentiment, just a name – Clark D L, O.F.C., 501 Hy. AA bty, Donibristle Point, 19/4/1943.  And so back to Google maps to find that Donibristle is just inland from Burntisland, but where Donibristle Point is, Google is keeping that a secret! ‘In the parlour there were three. Ann, the parlour lamp and he.  Two’s company without a doubt.  So the parlour light went out’. Nan Cunningham penned that on 17th January 1943.

‘What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult to each other.  In your golden chain of friendship, regard me as a link’. W Blackwood, A.T.S., who is she?  Could she be called Winifred?

Audrey Kettle

Audrey Kettle

The next few words are from Audrey Kettle, H.P.C., Notts (mum was also posted there and it was there that she met her future husband).  What Audrey wrote, although then, was meant in all innocence and probably is featured on many pages, in 100’s of autograph books, the wording in this politically correct culture, would be taken in the wrong context by a few.  But needless to say, Audrey’s words made me smile – all based on the sound of words and a space in the right place!  A google search brought up the Burma Star Association website telling me that HPC was Home Postal Service.

 An earlier entry for J M that gave nothing away as to who J M was now, further in the book, ‘a lonely spot’, they now tell they are at Arlands (?), Fochabers.   Later in the book I may find out a little more.  Back south of the border to Nottingham and Joan (A.T.S.). ‘Happy memories of the “Vic” at Nottingham’.  What memories, what happened at the Vic, that mum and Joan shared in 1944? Was the ‘Vic’ a theatre, was it a pub, one this is for sure it is not a shopping centre.

A pretty pencil sketch of a lady wearing a flowing, frilly dress and bonnet.  In the background

P Gregg

P Gregg

birds flutter and drink from a birth bath.  The artist is P Gregg – who was she, I am presuming a lady drew this.

It is sad that modern technology has done away with the autograph book, as within the pages, filled with words, poems, all written in different styles of writing………making the book very personal to the writer and the owner of the book……many memories held within those pages.

S D Williamson, 2 Forest Crescent, Thornton, Fife writes ‘Health, Happiness and the Best of Luck, where every you may be….. Mac’.  Looking again at the page – the name and address are in a different pen and a different hand.  Conclusion……..they are two people, Mac and S D Williams of Fife.  Now another question…..who is Mac?

Still only about half way through and Sig med, Rita, A.T.S, on 17th of January 1943, writes ‘ Down the street there walked a peach.  Who was both pretty and fair. A stealthy look, a half closed eye, and the Peach, became a Pair’.

D Watson 'Wot no!'

D Watson ‘Wot no!’

Another page with two entries, this time both from men.  ‘We’ll miss you at camp, Ann. how much, we only know, but your, smile, your wink in our memories lingers, where-ever you go’ A starred Romeo………..D Watson.  At the foot of the page and just managing to say ‘Wishing you all the best of Love……Josh, Wot no Kisses’.

Frank Smith writes ‘Thank God for girls like you Ann.  I shall miss your happy smile, and with you all you wish yourself, where-ever you may go’.

‘Long may you live! Long may you love! and long may you be happy’. S W Lewis wrote on the now faded and blotched page on 19th of January 1943.

Every autograph book has ‘Roses are red, violets are blue, honey is sweet and so are you’, this time written by  E Aitken of 11 Manse Avenue, Whitburn, West Lothian.

The next entry came as quite a surprise, well not the wording but who had written the words.  Firstly, the entry……….’Life is but a great hotel, a hand shake and our au-revoir.  We’ll meet again if all is well.  When we have passed the open door’.  Now who wrote the words.   They were  written by a man who would have had to travel many miles  – John Wilson, Gladstone, Queensland, 5.11.45.  As to whether John was in the services, I have no idea, but it would be nice to know if he made it back to Gladstone.

Blantyne Camp magazine

Blantyne Camp magazine, image Secret Scotland

‘Women darn their husbands socks, with never ceasing care.  But when they get a whole in theirs, they buy another pair’.  So true, and written by Irvin Skelton(?), 501 Bty, R.A., Blantyne Farm Camp, 24 May 1943.  Turning over the faded yellow page Joan Hemingway, A.T.S. wrote ‘Ann now, Ann ever, Riach now but not for ever. This book I see in later years, I wonder what your name will be’.

On the 6th of May 1945, Helen F Caldie, A.T.S., H.P.C., R.E., Wittingham, wrote about friendship being a chain that is never broken.   A greeting from A Hepburn, (42 Land S***d), Kirklands, Fochabers, written in a pen that seems to have had better days!  While Len, thanks Ann, for the letters she brought and her smiling happy face that added to the happiness contained within the envelopes from home.

The 24th of February 1946, two young men named Joe and Ted, wrote ‘Remember the Paiaise, Nottingham that afternoon?  We kept the ‘Poles’ up alright didn’t we!!!‘.  Also on the same page, but tucked into a corner, Mary wished Ann, her old pal, all the best.  Barbara, signing herself (Lady) Barbara, wrote ‘I wish I had someone to love me. Someone to call me his own. Someone to buy me chocolate. As I’m sick of buying my own!’.  Barbara writes from Craigend, Bathgate, West Lothian on 23rd Jan 1943.

Other entries are from J Mathieson, 69 Mid Street, Keith and G Newton Burntisisland, 16 January 1943. Turning the faded pink page, Val Peek, A.T.S., wrote on 18 January 1946, ‘Very best of luck from a ‘little’ Cockney girl’.  Well at least we have a clue as to where Val originated from.  Another entry is written by S Frost, West Melton, on 26 October 1945.

A little saucy poem follows ‘Ann, had a little lamb, she also had a bear.  I’ve often seen her little lamb, but never seen her bare!’ ‘Wishing you all you wish yourself, Rita M Cromrie, 24 February 1946′.  Doesn’t the English language make you chuckle at how two words pronounced the same can mean something totally different, and so many autograph books have similar entries.

Signaller Rita Walker penned her effort on 17th of January 1943, while over the page, Frae Rosie Vernon of the A.T.S., wrote about roses being red. No poem, no greeting came from the next page but details that looked as though they should be on an envelope – Pte D.Abbott, A.T.S., 501 (M) Bty R.A., Woodend Camp, Helensburgh. 

A E Walker

A E Walker

An entry on one of the faded yellow pages is from A.E. Walker, ex-trooper. Written on an angle in very small writing and in Italian (?) and using Google translator for one word, I think that A.E. Walker wrote the following ‘Un notta in Campo Concentraimento di Prigioanieri de Guerra’ – something about a prisoner of war camp, possibly.

Joan Bradshaw and Mary Wilkinson, both serving with the A.T.S., wrote on 9th June 1943 – Mary having two entries back to back.   Mac or Mal Pearson B.H.Q., wrote ‘A little bit of powder, a little bit of paint. Makes the ladies faces, really what they ain’t’, on 14 May 1943.  I get the feeling that how the verse is worded that Mal or Mac was a soldier.

D Robinson

D Robinson

M Jamieson, Seaview, Kingston-on-Spey, wrote another little dittie with a play on words, ‘ A tablespoon is rather large, a teaspoon rather small.  But a spoon upon the sofa, is the best spoon of all’. While Pte., Emilia Race, A.T.S, on 6 May 1943 wrote the words to the well known Vera Lynn song, We’ll meet again. A simple one liner  ‘ Two mugs from Milltown, remember the kilts!’ was written by D Robinson, R.A.F., and what could be L Kenneth R.A.A.F. Feb 1945, followed very quickly by ‘Just another mug, Alice Milne, Seafield Bank, New Elgin, 18 February 1945′.

‘Twinkle Twinkle little star, I took a girl out in a car.  What we did we’re not admittin’, but

Joy Wood

Joy Wood

what she’s knittin’ ain’t for Britain!’ Another cheeky little poem from ‘Daisy’ Day, 8th May 1943.  Getting close to the final pages, Joy Wood W.A.A.F., C.R.S., Nottingham, on 11 November 1946, wrote her own poem and apologised for the ‘shocking poetry’.  J Cumberland, C.R.S., January 11th 1946.  A rather bold entry from W.A.A.F., Jean Brown of Lossiemouth was written on 20 June 1943, while on 8th of August, 1944, Joan Demers wrote ‘ Sincerest wishes always Ann! Remember Just 1 of Room 5, 5 Carrisbrook’.  I wonder what that meant?

Entries by Gladys Rowberry and E Freeman, are followed by ‘I’d lie for you my darling, in thrilling tones she cried.  She was brunette. He preferred blonde, and so the damsel dyed’. Yet another play on words by Mitch, who wishes Ann, all the best in Civvy Street.

E Elizabeth Bingham

E Elizabeth Bingham

E Elizabeth Bingham, 12 Sect. E. Coy., H.P.C. (V), Notts., wrote on 5 June 1944 – the day before D-Day – ‘This ring is round and hath no end, so is my love for you, my friend.

The Bridle Pie, by Peggy Innes is the next entry ‘Take a cup of kindliness, a tablespoon of trust.  Add a pinch of confidence. Roll out a loving crust.  Flour with contentment and keep free from strife. Fill with understanding and bake well for life’.  Followed by Doris E Wells on 16th January 1945.



A young man called Artie seems to have reserved his page by writing ‘? leave this for me’.  He then draws a line down the page, thus reserving for later.  He then writes’ Remember the hilltop.  Remember the lake.  Remember me on your wedding day, but remember my piece of cake! Artie’

Finally, two entries, back to back by Pte Wells, A.T.S.,  501 Bty on 6

May 1943.

Who were these people who thought so much of my mum, Elizabeth Ann Riach.  At home in

Pte., Wells

Pte., Wells

Urquhart and to her family she was Lizzie.  In the army, to her husband and friends in Yorkshire she was Ann.  Oh!, how I would have loved to know the smiling, fun loving woman written about so fondly in her little black book.

Morayshire man to get memorial 100 years after his death

 After seeing a link to an online version of the Press and Journal, a Scottish newspaper, I was very interested, as the young man concerned was from the same village as my grandad – Dallas, Morayshire.

Anderson, William V.C.

Anderson, William V.C.

William Anderson was born in 1885 in Dallas, but by 1891, the family consisting of Alexander and Bella, the parents, plus children, James, Maggie, William and Alexander, living at 79 North Road. Alexander snr., worked as a labourer to keep a roof over his family’s head.

He went to Glasgow and was employed as a car conductor with the Corporation Tramways for several years before moving  to Newcastle upon Tyne where an elder brother of the family was serving with the Yorkshire Regiment (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own) and enlisted in the same battalion in 1905, serving in it for a period of seven years in Egypt and India. After his service expired William returned to Glasgow and was employed in the Elder Hospital in Govan. He had been there only for a year before deciding to emigrate to South Africa. However, before he could leave war broke out and he was called up as a reservist and went to the front in France with the British Expeditionary Force.

Our soldier, William Anderson, served in the 2nd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment.  He served as Corporal, 8191.

An extract from “The London Gazette”, dated 21st May, 1915, records the following: “For most conspicuous bravery at Neuve-Chapelle on 12th March, 1915, when he led three men with bombs against a large party of the enemy who had entered our trenches, and by his prompt and determined action saved, what might otherwise have become, a serious situation. Cpl. Anderson first threw his own bombs, then those in possession of his three men (who had been wounded) amongst the Germans, after which he opened rapid rifle fire upon them with great effect, notwithstanding that he was at the time quite alone”.

William’s commanding officer wrote him up for his Victoria Cross – he had died within less than 24 hours, his Soldier’s Effects record states ‘on or since 13.3.15′.  The document also mentions his sister, Mrs Margaret Ingram and his brother Alexander, who would receive monies owed to William.  Various payments had been made to his siblings covering the period 10 May 1916 to 2 December 1919.

Anderson, William V.C., Corporal 8191, has no known grave and is therefore, remembered on the Le Touret Memorial, along with over 13400 other men whose final resting place is known only unto their God.

The Memorial commemorates, as I have said, over 13,400 British soldiers who were killed in this sector of the Western Front from the beginning of October 1914 to the eve of the Battle of Loos in late September the following year – 1915.

Extracted from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission “Almost all of the men commemorated on the Memorial served with regular or territorial regiments from across the United Kingdom and were killed in actions that took place along a section of the front line that stretched from Estaires in the north to Grenay in the south. This part of the Western Front was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting of the first year of the war, including the battles of La Bassée (10 October – 2 November 1914), Neuve Chapelle (10 – 12 March 1915), Aubers Ridge (9 – 10 May 1915), and Festubert (15 – 25 May 1915). Soldiers serving with Indian and Canadian units who were killed in this sector in 1914 and ’15 whose remains were never identified are commemorated on the Neuve Chapelle and Vimy memorials, while those who fell during the northern pincer attack at the Battle of Aubers Ridge are commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial”.

Commonwealth War Graves certificate

Commonwealth War Graves certificate

To read the continuing story of William and his V.C. visit the Press and Journal’s website 

For information on other men from the Yorkshire Regiment you might find this of interest.

Younie Brothers in Arms

This is a blog I started a couple of weeks ago and saved as a draft, with it being late in the evening.  In the meantime I, after having a chat with a fellow researcher, did the long awaited entry for Alexander Riach who had an accidental death.

It has been a while since I have touched anything connecte to my family history, I’ve been too busy researching for a couple of projects I have on the go.  But tonight I took the bull by the horns and transferred my family tree from my pc to my laptop.

So I have been having a mooch around and seeing who is there, been looking through the pictures I have added to the many people and I came up with a piccy of a headstone, my friends will say ‘well what a surprise, a headstone!’  I had totally forgotten taking this one on a visit to Forres, Morayshire, years ago – I think it could have been one of those ‘I’ll do a little research on that one at a later  moment…………………the moment has come!

Isn’t it wonderful what a headstone can tell you, and especially a Scottish headstone as they nearly always have the wife with her maiden name for all to see – a woman keeps her name from cradle to grave…………wouldn’t that be wonderful if that was done in other countries!

This simple headstone is to William Younie who died at Bank Lane, 1926 aged 77.  His wife, Mary MacDonald died in 1935 aged 80.  But there are another couple of entries to their children.  Two of these entries I will go into further detail in a while, but now I will name Leslie, Alexander and William who die din infancy.

So, to the children I other children, namely, James and Thomas. 1891 sees the family living at 34 St Leonards Road, Forres, where William is a mason.   In 1901 the boys, were living at 3 Bank Street, Forres, with their parents, William Younie and Mary Ann MacDonald, and siblings – Donald, John and Emma.  In 1901 James McAndrew Younie and his brother Thomas P Younie were 12 years old – yes, they were twins!

I had some left over credits on Scotlands People, not a place I like to spend money as I wish they would do an annual subscription, but hey ho!  The William and Mary are living at 3 Bank Lane, Forres, with two of their children – James aged 23 and Emma aged 13.  Also in the household is James Munro aged 25, a boarder, who speaks both Gaelic and English.  William and Mary had bee married 33 years and had had eight children born alive, but only five had survived to be in the census of 1911.   William was still a mason, but this census specifies house building.  James was aged 23 and employed as a grocers assistant. Just for interest James Munro was employed as a law clerk.

During the Great War both James and Thomas fought for their country.  Lets look for James first.  He had been living in Glasgow, so it was there that he enlisted, joining the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, with the service number S/2469 and rising to the rank of Lance younie james mcandrew kiaCorporal in the 6th Battalion.  And so it  was that  on the 16th of July 1917 that James McAndrew Younie died of wounds received in action aged 29.  He rests in Dozinghem Military Cemetery, near Krombeke, north west of Poperinge, in the West Vleteren region of Belgium, along with 3239 other casualties from  the  Commonwealth, the Chinese labour force and  Germany.

Westvleteren was outside the front held by Commonwealth forces in Belgium during the First World War, but in July 1917, in readiness for the forthcoming offensive, groups of casualty clearing stations were placed at three positions called by the troops Mendinghem, Dozinghem and Bandaghem.

The 4th, 47th and 61st Casualty Clearing Stations were posted at Dozinghem and the military cemetery was used by them until early in 1918.

A book about the War Memorial Unveiled in the United Free High Church has the following entry for James McAndrew Younie.

younie james moray n nairn fhs

Now to James’s twin, Thomas – while looking for James in the 1911 Scottish census, there was not one entry that I could 100% say was him.  Looking for Thomas has been a lot harder going that his brother, but we got somewhere in the end.  Thomas enlisted at Fort George in 1906. During the Great War, Thomas Petrie Younie served in the Seaforth Highlanders and became, Company Serjeant Major, 9500.  He served in France and on 2 July 1919, nearly 2 years to the day since his brother James died, Thomas died as the result of a gun shot wound to his leg.  As the war had ended Thomas had been sent back home and he rests in Cluny Hill Cemetery, Forres.

Younie Cluny hill cem forresThomas had been awarded the Military Medal and a similar article to his brother tells more about his life and war.

younie thomas moray n nairn fhs


So it was that three brothers went to war, Mary’s twins both died and  one came home. But one question still remains – which other brother went to war, was it Donald or John?

Younie Cluny hill cem forres



Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Find My Past

Find a Grave

Soldiers who Died in the Great War

Moray and Nairn FHS click here 

Alexander Riach, 1828 – 1900

The blog about Alexander, seems to have been so long in the making.  It seemed only a few months ago I was asking for information from libraries, archives and companies. The truth is that I started enquiring in January of 2014…………….dosn’t time fly when you are having fun!  I must have been having too much fun…..but then I can’t remember enjoying myself that much last year!

My quest for information about Alexander had started many years ago, and like many other researchers, have put certain people on the ‘back burner’ ready for another day……….well they are not going anywhere, are they?  It was during  a long weekend in Lossiemouth, while visiting my aunt Gladys that my husband and I trawled the kirkyards in the area looking for Riach, Hay, Younie, Petrie and other names connected to mums family.  The weather was sunny, but a little bit cool as I scanned the headstones, three rows at a time, looking for family connections or something of interest on the family markers.  Although, the headstone to Alexander and Helen was interesting due to the family name, it was how and where Alexander died that struck me as interesting and quite surprising.

Who is Alexander?  Well, he is the husband of my 2nd cousin, 3 x removed. But saying that his wife’s grandmother was also a Riach.

Rothes map - Vision of Briain.

Rothes map – Vision of Briain.

Alexander Riach was born in Dallas in 1828, and being baptised in Rothes on 18th October 1828. He seems to have  spent most of his time in Rothes, the son of James Riach and Annie Innes – James was from Rothes, but not sure about Annie.  In the census of 1841 and 1851 he is living on New Street, Rothes and working as a mason.

Alexander Riach, on Friday the 18th of January, walked up the aisle of Rothes kirk as a married man, after marrying Helen McKerron.  Wet and unsettled conditions had set in a few days before their wedding day and did not turn for the better until April – I hope they had a reasonably fine and clear day for their nuptials.

The census came around in 1861 and the couple, now with two young children were living at Kirton Street, West Side, Marnach, Mortlach. Alexander, still working a a mason, was now working on the railway.   Ten years down the line in 1871, the family has grown and Alexander is now father to four children, aged between 13 and 5 month old Margaret.  Home is now Easter Ardchyle Hut, 2, in the Perthshire village of Killin, where Alexander is aged 42 and a mason.

Alexander and his family seems to be quite elusive in the 1881 census but a bit of a tea break, finds the family not together.  Helen is living with 2 of her children in the home of Margaret McKinnon, the widow of a mason, at Station Street, Rothes.  Where is Alexander and the other children?   After searching through the census for Scotland, with knowing  where he died………….you will have to wait a little longer for that  information! I looked in the England census and there is an Alexander Reach, aged within reasonable ‘give or takes’ from the last census and born in Scotland. living in Barden in Skipton, working as a contractor manager for the new reservoir………..could this be him, living on his own and stating he is married?

Ten years later in 1991, there was quicker success – Alexander and Hellen are now living back together at Cressbrook Cottage, Queens  Road West, Old Machar, Aberdeenshire and now employed as a manager at one of the local granite quarries.

You now know a little about Alexander up to 1891 but what happened to him later………..?

I did the usual quick research by Google, looking for anything that could be remotely connected with how he died.  You know the things, confirming his death on the GRO, just incase the headstone was wrong – it would not be the first time.  I looked for any notification of any thing connected with his death that might have been in a local paper and scanned for online research……….nothing, but I did come up with a place that could be worth a visit sometime.

It was some years later while visiting our daughter who lived in Chiswick at the time, we were staying in a very nice pub opposite Kew Green.  We were due to meet her for lunch where she worked but had a while to kill, so we had a little drive around the area and drove past a building that woke the old grey matter and a eureka moment came.  It was after lunch and on our way back to our lodgings that we called in.  The place was closed but a few of the workshops were open.  The one I called in at, was a blacksmiths, a lady blacksmith and her work was fantastic.  After asking if this was Kew Bridge Works, she said yes, but everything was closed for the day….another visit was called for.  The next day I had found myself in a small, cluttered office, talking to one of the curators, who knew nothing of my man and his demise but she took my details and would pass them on to a volunteer researcher who went on a regular basis to the Metropolitan Archives……………I should wait! Waiting is not a thing I am known for where family history is concerned when I have bitten the bullet, but sad to say I am still awaiting their reply, probably six years down the line.

Kew Bridge Works, now London Museum of Water and Steam

Kew Bridge Works, now London Museum of Water and Steam

So it looks like I would have to continue something I started years ago, but on my own terms, with this new vigor, I rang the Registry Office for a death certificate but which office to contact would it be Richmond or Brentford.  I said I would tell you later about how and where he died – it looks like now is a good time to tell you.  Alexander Riach died on 31st of March 1900, as his epitaph tells ‘accidentally killed at Kew Bridge Works’.  I tossed a coin and came up with Richmond as my first port of call, as I was convinced he had died in an accident at what is now the Museum of Water and Steam, Kew.  The very nice person at the Richmond office, assured me that if I had the wrong office, I would, of course, get a refund.  Five long days later I had the certificate in my hands and although saddened by how Alexander met his maker, for a family historian, the way in which someone leaves their mortal coil, can mean there is more information to be found.

In 1900 he was living at 14 Bushwood Road, Kew and although, 71 years of age, was te Contractor’s Manager at Kew Bridge Works – as per his headstone, and still had me thinking about the steam museum building.  I had the impression, that with this information being marked on his headstone, for all the world to see, well those who visited the kirkyard, that te family were upset, annoyed and probably felt that it was someones fault, but whose?

The death certificate, as you know, gave me the date of death, his age was 71 years and we know his occupation but it was the cause of death that came as a shock.  He died of ‘Syncope from shock due to fractured ribs crushed by crane toppling over whilst being moved from barge to landing stage’.  There was a post-mortem and a verdict of Accidental Death was given by the Coroner for Surrey, A Broxton Hicks after an inquest held on the 4th of April 1900.

I felt surely that this would have caused a ripple through the Kew community at the time, so a telephone call to a wonderful man at Richmond Local Studies, who turned out to be the head of the department.  After a quick tale of who, where and when, I was promised he would let me know if anything was in the local papers.  He was very true to his word and in less that 24 hours I had a scanned copy of the entry in the Richmond Herald, which told me

‘An inquest was held in Richmond on Wednesday, touching on the death of Alexander Riach, manager of the Kew Bridge Works, who was killed by the falling of a crane.  Mr Gibb, the contractor for the works, was represented by a solicitor.  Evidence as to identity having been given by Margaret Riach, daughter of the deceased.  William Watson, a labourer, 2 York Villas, Kew, said that for the purpose of assisting in taking down the old bridge they had a steam crane on runners on a barge.  On Saturday, the manager asked witness and three others to remain behind to take the crane from the barge on to the wharf.  It was quite steady in the barge, but (the crane) had not been used in it, only being there for the purpose of moving.  The deceased came to the wharf about 2 o’clock, and they began to move the crane a few minutes later.  The top of the barge was level with the wharf, and they were going to move the crane on to the wharf by means of rails.  They had begun to move it,  ad it was half-way across, going by steam, when some steamers came up river,  and the wash caused the barge to rock.  Deceased was standing on the wharf near the crane, when it suddenly toppled on to him.  As it swung back, they managed to get the deceased out, and assistance having been called, he was conveyed in a cab home.  

Henry Kennison, a labourer in the employ of the firm, corroborated the evidence of the previous witness.  He was on the barge, and the crane as it was tilted, caught the witness by the clothes, but did not injure him.  Thomas Graham Menzie, 17 Bushwood Road, Kew, engineer to Mr Gibb, said he was o the crane on the barge on the Surrey side, and it was then quite steady, standing so for several days.  Deceased had had over fifty years’ experience with cranes.  After the accident happened, witness had the photographs produced taken.  In answer to Mr J T Mackie, factory inspector from the Home Office, the witness said he thought the crane was safe with the jib on.  The crane was not in steam at the time of the accident.  Dr Ernest Payne, who saw the deceased, said about eight of his ribs were fractured, and he was considerably bruised on the side of his body.  He died from syncope, following upon the shock of the accident.  A verdict of ‘Accidental Death’ was returned’.

Kew Bridge

Kew Bridge being demolished

It was this article in the paper that told me where the accident occurred, I had wrongly thought that he worked at the Kew Bridge Waterworks, but no it was infact, Kew Bridge, works.  It was a very nice man at, yes, the Steam Museum, formerly, Kew Bridge Waterworks, that confirmed a few points.  Firstly, that Mr Gibb, the contractor, at the inquest, was in fact the contractor for Kew Bridge, when the new bridge was built between 1899 and 1903.  The dates fit with Alexander being in Kew and Mr Gibb, also fits in.  It looks like Alexander was involved with the building of the new Kew Bridge and the demolishing of the old bridge. Kew Steam Museum, came good in the end!

After years of waiting to find our why ‘accidentally killed at Kew Bridge Works’ is written on Alexander’s headstone, I now know.  But, this information make me want to ask more questions, such as:- How long had he been in London, and were his family with him.  We know Margaret, his daughter identified the body. But, was that as she was the only family member with him and was basically, his housekeeper. Or, had his wife Hellen, been too upset to view her husband, or had she stayed in Scotland?

The inquest tells that he had worked with cranes for fifty years, was that because his job as a mason involved moving heavy stones and he had gained his experience there.

I may never know the answers to some of the questions, but my family tree certainly has more information about Alexander and his family now than it did.

The third Kew Bridge opened in 1903

The third Kew Bridge opened in 1903

As I have said I know more about Alexander than most people now.  There are many trees on Ancestry that include him, but some have his birth details, some have his death details, and some don’t even have his parents, but although the odd one, and I do mean the odd one, has his death but nothing else.  Could it be that none of these people have seen his headstone?  It is possible that his demise is not common knowledge as many researchers could be from America, Canada or Australia and have not ventured to Morayshire.

I looked for a Will in the English records but nothing, so I took my ‘plastic’ in my hand and I might add it took some prizing out of my purse, but eventually, I paid a fee to Scotlands People, now that breaks my heart – why will they not do an annual subscription?  Wills are free to search, and there he was, confirmed by his wife Helen McKerron, also being in the index.  I now have his will and can see that he had property in Rothes, its proximity given quite clearly on the written pages and how after both his and Helen’s death, which occured in December of 1909, what should happen to their property.


London Museum of Water and Steam – click here


Find My Past

Scotland’s People


Guest Blogger

compilation logo in frameIf you don’t want the hassle of running and maintaining your own blog, but you like the idea of informing like minded people. You may be one of the people I am looking for.

Have you an interesting story to tell about a a member of your family.  Tell about the trials and tribulations of family historians or a local history  snippet on people or places; someone involved in WWI, WWII or other conflicts, a man or woman who stayed at home to do ‘war work’ or even a someone who objected to war.

You could tell how to research in a specific place i.e. the National Archives.  It could be an historical event that you would like to tell about – something that happened in your locale.

Do you have first hand experience of research in America, Canada, Australia or Europe and can give advice on where to look, with a few hints and tips that someone with local knowledge has learnt over the years.

Have you any tips on how to store your family history.  Do you have any suggestions for storing photographs or other research materials.

Or have you been on a visit to another country to do some family history ‘stuff’,  to a war cemetery, a battlefield or some other interesting place – let me know.

The blog can be short, long or something in between but it must be your own work.

Contact me at    –    guestblogger@wakefieldfhs.org.uk

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Old Etonian Killed in Action WW2

KRRC War Memorial Eton College

KRRC War Memorial Eton College

It was Eton College War Memorial, many years ago,  that started me transcribing war memorials and I seem to have gathered a vast collection of photographs along the way – I hate to say that many still need transcribing, but at the moment another project has to take priority.

But in the meantime, I will venture back to Eton College and a young man who I met (virtually) along the way.

When I transcribed the Eton College War Memorial, all those years ago, I was fortunate enough to be contacted by a relative of one of the men whose name is carved in………….. I was going to say stone but I think it is in fact marble.  A few emails went back and forth, with little bits of extra information and a photograph – it is so nice to know who you are writing about and it was my pleasure to be able to visit the grave, photograph the headstone and send over to the family.

It also appears, that when doing a little research for the young man concerned I found out that his grandfather Hugh Scott 8th of Gala)  was born in Bellie nr Elgin and his grandmother (Elizabeth Isabella Gordon) hailed from St Andrews, also in Elgin – small world as my mothers family also come from that area of Morayshire.

Who am I talking about, well it’s Henry John Alexander Scott Makdougall who born on 6th February 1901, the son of Hugh James Elibank Scott-Makdougall of Makerstoun and his wife Agnes Jenkinson.

Henry was educated at Eton College, leaving in November 1918.  He sat exams for Sandhurst College on 11th November 1918.  Henry was commissioned into the King’s Royal Rifle Corps with the serial number 12838, gaining the rank of Captain in the 60th Rifles (KRRC) in 1930.

In 1934 his father, Hugh died and on 2nd April 1935. Henry legally changed his name to Henry John Alexander Scott Makdougall, becoming Henry John Alexander Makdougall Scott, 11th of Gala.  This was recognised by the Lord Lyon King of Arms  and on 2nd April of the same year his arms were matriculated.

Henry served in WWII and I was told by a family member that  it was on a visit back to his family home, Gala House, with his mother, other family members and staff stood outside,  that he got in his car and drove off.  His mother waved him away and said that would be the last time she would see her son.

Scott, John Henry MacdougallCaptain Scott and one Second Lieutenant Scott were involved in fighting the enemy on the streets of Calais during May of 1940.  The story goes that one was on one side of the street and the other was across the road.  Both were killed on the same day and there seemed to be some confusion about who was where and what they were doing.  These details don’t seem to matter.  But what does matter is the men – Henry was 39 years old when he was killed on 26th May 1940 and his comrade was only 20 years old and both lie within the walls of Calais Southern Cemetery and rest a distance, probably, as wide as a street from each other.

So it looks like a mother’s premonitions came true!

Major Scott of Gala

Major Scott of Gala

The Probate Calender for England and Wales reads :- SCOTT Henry John Alexander MakDougall of Gala House, Galashiels died 26 May 1940.  Confirmation of Francis Gillies Sutherland writer to the Signet Philip Beaumont Frere solicitor and John Douglas Hamilton dickson writer to the Signet,  Sealed Llandudno 28 July 1941.


Galashiels War Memorial

Henry, as well as being mentioned on the Eton King’s Royal Rifle Corps memorial, Henry also has his name on the Galashiels memorial to the fallen.

As I mentioned another Scott, it seems only fair and right to see who he is too.  Richard Oswald Scott, was the son of Oswald Arthur Scott, DSO (1918) and his wife Hermione Monica, whom he later divorced.  Here it seems there is another local, well reasonably local, connection – Oswald Arthur married Hermione Monica Ferrand on the 19th of May 1917 in All Saints Church, Bingley.  Hermione’s father was William Ferrand, Esquire, living at St Ives, Bingley.  Oswald Arthur was 23 years old and a Captain in the Hampshire Regiment, living at Rotherfield Park, Alton. Witnesses to the union were W Ferrand, Patricia M Scott, Geoffrey T Scott and William Harris(?) Scott.   Oswald, served as 1st Secretary, Counsellor, Ambassador in Madrid, Baghdad, Lisbon, Finland and in the Foreign Office.  In 1951 he was Knighted (KCMG)

Richard, their son,  was born in the St Georges Hanover Square Registration District of London in the June Quarter of 1920 – one of four children.

Lieut R O Scott

Lieut R O Scott

During WWII he, like Henry, served in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and became known as 95645, 2nd Lieutenant R O Scott.  The men a few connections, both came from landed families and both had links to Eton College.  While looking for snippets of information about Richard, I came across his brother – Thomas Roland Scott 4th April 1923 also served during the war.  Thomas served as Flying Officer, 115515 in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.  On 22nd of October 1942, he too was killed and he rests in Porthmadog Public Cemetery, Caernarvonshire, with 17 other casualties from both wars.


King’s Royal Rifle Corp Eton Memorial can be found here


Pte., Gault, John Scott

John Gault Scott, was born in Drainie, the son of James and Maggie Gault. At the time of the 1901 census the family of James and Maggie was living at 8 Argyle Street, Lossiemouth.  The family consisted of  8 children, the eldest being 17 and the youngest was just one – John Scott was the third youngest aged 5.  James earned his living as a fisherman.

John served in the Seafoforth Highlanders as pte.,1849, 6th Btn,after enlisting in Elgin.  The 6th Batt. served as the 51st Highland Division and was a Territorial Force division. The divisions insignia was a H D in a red circle – giving the batt. the nickname of Harpers Duds after Major General Harper, or Highway Decorators.  The division served in the Battles of The Somme, Arras and Cambrai.

John Scott Gault D of W on 6 June 1916 aged 20 years.  John was eligible for the 1915 Star, the Victory and British Medals and served in France.

gault john scott

8 argyle st lossiemouth

8 Argyle Street,

At the time of James and Maggie, giving information about their son they were still  living at  8 Argyle Street, Lossiemouth, Morayshire.

John and other young men from Lossiemouth can be found on the Lossiemouth War Memorial

http://wakefieldfhs.org.uk/genealogyjunction/Morayshire/Lossiemouth%20War%20Mem.htm  The transcription is a work in progress so if you know any histories of these men who gave their life for King and Country, please let me know.




Soldiers who died in the Great War


Riach / Campbell marriage

Elgin Courier, Friday 29 June 1866

“At Toronto, on 6th June, by the Rev. Alex. Topp, A.M. Mr Alex. Riach, farmer, second son of the late Mr Jas. Riach, farmer, Barflathills, Morayshire, to Isabella Campbel, County of Chateaugeauy, Canada East.”

Who were Alexander and Isabella?

Isabella, born about 1839 in Argyl.  She was the daughter of Dugald Campbell and Catharine McKillop.  At the time of her marriage she was living in Chateauguay, Quebec. Alexander on the other hand was born about 1841 in Elgin, the son of James Riach and Margaret Newland.  At the time of his marriage he was living in the Nelson Township. I’ve found 1 child born to the couple – Joseph Newlands Riach b 1 Sept 1872 at Wentworth   Memorial inscription for Alexander and Isabella at Greenwood Cemetery, Burlington, Ontario.

In memory of Sabella Campbell beloved wife of Alexander Riach died Sept 23 1896 aged 58 years. A native of Argyleshire Scotland. Alexander Riach 1840-1914. (back) James C Riach 1867-1944

The census of 1901 sees Alexander a widow and living in the home of Arthur Grey a farmerl

The 1911 census of Canada has Alex as a boarder in the house of William Hannon(?) and his family  on what looks like Maber Street, Burlington, Ontario.  Alex’s occupation was given as servant.