When I was asked to look into Dundee Corporation Works’ Department The Roll of Honour – I thought “A CHALLENGE”. It lists the names of 74 men, their rank and regiment. After a bit of quick investigation of names we figured out that only two of the men were killed in action (they are noted by a diamond on the roll). The rest survived the war.
Now, how was I going to find out about these men, all I had was a name and a regiment. Not a lot to go on. So I decided to start with John Johnston, one of the men who died during the war. There are many sources you can use to find out about First World War soldiers, including databases of killed soldiers and medal roll cards on Ancestry, the Dundee local directories and ScotlandsPeople for censuses, births, marriages and deaths. Not knowing ages, where they men came from or even what job’s they did with the Council, this was quite a task. I started with John Johnston. Of course the other great resource is the Great War Dundee Project’s Roll of Honour which is working to gather more information about the men listed on the Dundee Roll of Honour and other lists of men who fell during WW1. As there is only one John Johnston in the R.N.V.R. on this roll then this must be him.
John Johnston was born on 28th July 1877. John, was a Masons Labourer and married Margaret Harkins a Jute Worker in Dundee 1908. He joined up on 27th September 1914. But John wasn’t in the army – he was in the Naval Reserve. He was an Able Seaman in the Brakes Battalion – one of the infantry battalions formed in the 63rd Division of the Navy. He served in the Dardanelles and Greece. John was killed in action on 13th November 1916. He has no grave but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.
Royal Naval Division service records can be downloaded from the National Archives’ website. We found John’s service record and we found out a bit more about him. He lived at 50 Mains Road when he enlisted. He was 5 feet 6 1/2 inches tall, with auburn hair and grey eyes. More importantly his service record confirms that John was a ‘Corporation Employee’. Sadly we don’t know exactly what job John did for the council but we do know, thanks to the Roll of Honour that it was in the Works Department. In the 1911 census John and Margaret were living at 29 Hospital Wynd and John was listed as a ‘Plater’s Helper’ at a Shipyard. Presumably he worked in a similar physical job for the council. As the Works Department fixed roads and other physical work this makes sense. Read more about John on the Great War Dundee website.
I then decided to see if I could find anything about any of the men who survived the war. This is generally quite difficult as a large proportion of their service records were destroyed by bomb and fire damage in WW2. One of the men I did manage to find something on was Ernest Lorimer.
Ernest Hardie Lorimer was born on 31st March 1889 at Park Terrace. He was the son of Adolphus (a milliner) and his wife Isabella Barrow. Parkview 3 Balgay Road (Blackness Road) Dundee. Brother to Adolphus, Nettie, David, Sydney, Patricia and Frances – Ernest was the third youngest. By 1911 Ernest was working as a clerk and two years later he joined the territorial army. As a member of the T.A. he was called up to full service quite quickly and was embodied on 5th August 1914 to the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry. At this time he was noted as a Commercial Traveller working for A Lorimer & Co – his father’s company. He was 5 feet 9 1/2 inches tall.
His Army service record is quite detailed so we know quite a bit about what he did in the was. In June 1915 he was promoted to Lance Corporal. He was serving in the mediteranean in late 1915, as he was admitted to hospital in Malta with Dysentery in November. He then returned to the UK a month later and recuperated in hospital in Bristol. He must have returned to the front as by November 1916 he is transferred to the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) and went back down to a private. He managed to get back up to a Lance Corporal in December. He was discharged before the end of the war on 20th September 1918 as he was no longer fit for duty. He had received a severe wound to the right of his chest earlier in the year and had ceased his duties in June.
One thing that is a little surprising is that Ernest works for his father – not for the Council’s Works department. So is this the same Ernest Lorimer? Well there was one document in his service record that gives us a clue. There is a letter from the Dundee City Chambers on 6th September 1918. They are acknowledging receipt of Ernest’s discharge certificate and pointing out the discrepancy of his rank being Private and not Lance Corporal. Does this letter mean that Ernest was back in Dundee and was working for the Council in the Works Department. Perhaps he was using his clerking skills. Unfortunately records showing the names of employees of the council don’t survive, so we can’t check this.
So it seems that the Roll of Honour includes men who served in the department before and after the war. If you are have any information on any of the men on the roll please get in touch with us or leave a comment on this post. The men listed on the Roll of Honour are:
|Thomas||Adamson||Army Service Corps|
|Daniel||Bertie||Fife and Forfar Yeomnry|
|Alexander||Brown||Royal Defence Corps|
|John||Bruce||Road Construction Coy Res|
|James||Cockburn||Royal Garrison Artilliery|
|Thomas||Cunningham||Road Construction Coy Res|
|Edward||Duguid||Royal Field Artillery|
|John||Fagan||Royal Naval Divison|
|Thomas||Ferrier||Royal Naval Divison|
|Thomas||Flynn||Royal Field Artillery|
|James||Forbes||Royal Scots Fusiliers|
|James||Fyffe||Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders|
|Charles||Gibson Jun||Highland Cyclist Corps|
|Bernard||Gillies||Royal Garrison Artilliery|
|James||Howitt||Army Service Corps|
|William||Ireland||Royal Naval Divison|
|John||Johnson*||Royal Naval Divison/Drakes|
|Felix||Keirnan||Highland Light Infantry|
|Joseph||Kelly||Road Construction Coy Res|
|Richard||Kinsella||Royal Field Artillery|
|John||Kirk||Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders|
|George||Livie||Royal Navy Vol Res|
|Ernest||Lorimer||Fife and Forfar Yeomnry|
|David||Lorimer||Royal Naval Divison|
|George||Lowden||Royal Army Medical Corps|
|Archibald||McDonald||Royal Marine Labour Corps|
|Dennis||McGinley||Royal Naval Divison|
|John||McGregor*||2nd Battallion Highland Light Infantry|
|Frank||McGuckin||Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders|
|Hugh||McKay||Royal Naval Divison|
|Robert||McKenzie||Road Construction Coy Res|
|James||McLaughan||Road Construction Coy Res|
|Robert||Milne||Road Construction Coy Res|
|Edward||Mulligan||Royal Garrison Artilliery|
|John||Napier||Road Construction Coy Res|
|Frank||Orrock||Royal Naval Divison|
|Frank||Paton||Army Service Corps|
|Alexander||Reid||Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders|
|Alexander||Robertson||Royal Naval Divison|
|David||Russell||Royal Naval Divison|
|Peter||Scott||Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders|
|Robert||Smith||Royal Defence Corps|
|Robert||Stewart||Royal Naval Divison|
|James||Stratton||Army Service Corps|
|Alexander||Tait||Royal Naval Divison|
|Christopher||Ward||Highland Cyclist Corps|
|James||Ward Jun||Royal Engineers|
|Harry||Webster||Kings Own Scottish Borderers|
|David||Whammond||Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders|
|John||White||Road Construction Coy Res|
|William||Whyte||Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders|
|David||Whyte||Royal Defence Corps|
|Edward||Will||Royal Field Artillery|
*Killed in action