Cluny Hill Cemetery, Forres

Cluny Hill Cemetery, Forres

This year I have had to cancel three holidays to France. I have missed seeing friends over there and missed visiting the CWGC cemeteries.

But in early July I booked a crossing, and I was going. During the next few weeks things changed leaving me questioning should I go? This uncertainty went on, should I go, should I change plans and go to Scotland on a family history trip. Yes, I was going to France. No, I was going to Scotland. What to do? A big decision. I decided after a few sleepless nights that I was going to Scotland. With my crossing to France now cancelled I needed somewhere to stay in Scotland. Do you know how hard it is to find a holiday place this year? Well, I can tell you it was not easy!

With a place to stay all sorted, it was time to sort it was time to get my family stuff sorted! With my family tree uploaded to Ancestry (as a back-up and so I can access via my phone), the laptop was packed, as was the rest of the baggage and I set off for Morayshire via my cousin’s house in Edinburgh.

I had made a list of the places, cemeteries, I needed to visit and over the days ticked them off. I have a system for walking cemeteries. In one beautiful cemetery that was never going to happen due to how it was laid out. The majority of the site is in woodland – not only are there trees to consider but the burials are on a hillside, a steep hillside. Difficult as it is to see every headstone the site is beautiful and I don’t think I missed many. By the way, I’m talking about Cluny Hill Cemetery in Forres, Morayshire. In the wooded areas, you walk on beds of lush moss and kick pine cones as you walk.

One of my relatives was a silversmith in Forres, he was also a respected Magistrate, Baillie, Provost and did much to beautify the Cluny Hills. I suppose I have him to thank for how wonderful the hills surrounding the cemetery are.

The cemetery is the final resting place of my silversmith, his family and a few others that are included on my tree, or if they aren’t there already, they soon will be.

As I said earlier Cluny Hill Cemetery is set on a very steep piece of land, and a visit is not really for the faint-hearted or those unsteady on their feet. While I was there I found several headstones of interest. One of these is to a WW1 soldier whose headstone is on a relatively flat area just inside the top entrance.

“Erected by Wm Forbes in loving memory of his wife Isabella Clark who died at Forres 23rd Jan. 1898 aged 33 years. Also his sons Duncan who died at Mosstodloch 22nr Feb. 1916 aged 24 years and L.-Corp. A C Forbes 1st Gordon Highlanders Killed in Action 29th April 1916 aged 23 years and the above Wm Forbes who died 24th June 1923 aged 70 years.

With this research being Scotland based, the majority of records are only available via Scotlandspeople, a pay per view site, it could be a little costly. I can, however, use worldwide sites to get the information but have no images to confirm details. I am relying upon transcripts in many cases.

You will no doubt know that I’m looking into the life of A C Forbes of the Gordon Highlanders.

Alexander Clark Forbes was born in 1893 in Forres, Elginshire (Morayshire), to William Forbes and Isabella Clark.

Before his enlistment on 22nd of May 1915, Alexander lived in Denny and worked as a policeman.

Alexander enlisted aged 22 in Aberdeen according to Soldiers Who Died in the Great War (SWDTGW). From the family headstone, we know that he served in the Gordon Highlanders but with a little bit of research it is known that he served in the 1st Battalion with service number S/10226.

AC’s service records have survived and from them, we know quite a lot about our soldier. For instance, he was 5′ 10 ½” tall, had a 39″ expanded chest and had a brown birthmark on his left foot. William, his father, lived at Fern Cottage, Mosstodloch – the family must have moved there after the census of 1901 as another family is living there then.

Alexander embarked at Southampton on the 1st of July 1915. His first months in Europe seem to have been quite eventful – he is in Field Ambulance 142 with Pyrexia in November. Shortly after he is at another Field Ambulance with Myalgia before being discharged to his unit. Shortly after being discharged, he is awarded 10 days FP No. 1 in the field. In March he is back in the UK for leave. After returning he is promoted, unpaid, to Lance Corporal (in the field), unpaid. the following month he is Killed in Action.

Alexander rests with over 1000 other casualties of war in Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, Belgium. His father was to receive the 1915 Star, a sum of money (just under £10) and a small pension of 5/- a week from November 1916.