Newbattle at War a history of the Parish at war   

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Remembering the lads of Tynecastle High School

An article recently appeared in the Edinburgh Evening News regarding former pupils and a teacher of Tynecastle High School  who had fought and died in the Great War, extracts of which follow below. Can you help add any additional information about these lads? I have started the ball rolling with a little more.

If you can help please feel free to contact the website or Mr Neil McLennan at Tynecastle High School.


The Story

THE forgotten First World War soldiers who attended and taught at a city high school are to be remembered with a new memorial in their honour.

Pupils and teachers at Tynecastle High are carrying out painstaking research into the school's history to identify their predecessors who fought and died in the Great War.

As the school was built in 1912, it was previously thought that no-one from Tynecastle had been called up to fight for king and country.

But, after the discovery of a plaque at a car boot sale which read, "To Tynecastle's war dead 1914", the school's history department began to investigate the possibility that pupils and teachers may have fallen in the Great War.

After trawling through log books from when the school first opened and matching old registers up with the Commonwealth War Graves records, the research team have so far discovered 14 pupils and one teacher who fought and died on the front line.

The school plans to unveil a new First World War memorial when the new Tynecastle High opens next December.

As well as the 15 dead soldiers, the history department has also discovered the existence of two survivors – the Thomson brothers – from a photograph taken in 1918. Not much is known about the brothers, and the school is particularly keen to hear from their relatives to try and piece together what they did after the war was over.

Neil McLennan, principal teacher of history at the school, said: "We are digging up Tynie's lost boys one by one.

"We would like to set the kids a cross-curricular challenge and get the art department and technical department to come up with an appropriate memorial.

"There are documents referring to the fact that a lot of technical teachers went away to do munitions work and home economics teachers trained soldiers up in domestic sciences, so Tynecastle was helping the war effort in various ways."

The research has also taken them back to the few months war poet Wilfred Owen spent teaching English literature at the school during his time recovering from shell-shock at Craiglockhart military hospital.

Mr McLennan is investigating how Owen's time at the school from September 1917 influenced his poetry as part of the project.

He said: "He came down from Craiglockhart war hospital with a group of other officers but the only one I've been able to identify is Owen because it's corroborated by letters to his mother where he mentions the school very fondly.

"He had a very close relationship with the kids and I'm convinced that Tynecastle had a lot of influence on his poetry.

"I'm convinced that Anthem For Doomed Youth was inspired by seeing the children whose fathers and brothers had fallen and what impact the war was having on families back home and the loss of innocence."

Lieutenant Colonel Roger Binks, of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, said: "This certainly is a good idea because it allows people to find out how to do research, widen their experiences and pick up stories that they would never have found out otherwise."

The fallen

Alexander Grimmond Henderson 19 July 1918, aged 19. Black Watch (Royal Highlands)
Born Paisley
8th Bn. formerly 2378, 38th T.R. Bn

Ronald Forbes Pte 57622 27 February 1919, aged 19. Native of Edinburgh. Highland Light Infantry

Robert Thomson
Pte 59799 11th August 1918, aged 19, of Caledonian Crescent, Edinburgh. Royal Scots formerly 3714 Lothian Borders Horse.

William George Stirling Pte 41712  18 August 1918, aged 18, of Downfield Place, Edinburgh. Kings Own Scottish Borderers
1st Bn. formerly 7613 53rd T.R.

Donald Urquart Addison Pte 33199, 14 April 1918, aged 19, of Westfield Road, Edinburgh. Kings Own Scottish Borderers
1st Bn. formerly 4703 78th T.R.

James Samuel Pte 42560, 21 September 1918. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
5/6th Battalion

William Forwell
Pte 203159 16 September 1918, aged 20, of Duddingston Park, Portobello, Edinburgh. Enlisted in 1914. Seaforth Highlanders 8th Bn. formerly 1978 R. Scots. Died of Wounds as POW, Moselle, Germany.

Alexander Gerard Pte 350946 9th Battalion Royal Scots 1 August 1918, aged 19.

Alexander Murdoch Pte 38860, 19 August 1918, aged 19. 10th Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)

Thomas Rigby Ronald 5 October 1918, aged 19, of Gorgie Road, Edinburgh. Royal Field Artillery  Died of Wounds, War Hospital, Warrington, Lancashire.

John Williamson
Pte 59735, 13 September 1918, aged 19, of Saughton Avenue, Edinburgh. Royal Scots formerly 3400 Lothian and Borders Horse.

Gordon Porteous Leighton Pte 41910, 28 June 1918, aged 18, of Myrtle Terrace, Edinburgh. Kings Own Scottish Borderers 2nd Bn., formerly 54271 H.L.I.

James Stephen Orkney Pte 37095, 15 April 1918, aged 19, of Westfield Road, Edinburgh.9th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment

George Swan Pte 132436, 10 April 1918, aged 19, of Gorgie Crescent, Edinburgh. Machine Gun Corps Infantry

William Stewart Anderson Gunner 120841, 9 October 1917, aged 33, teacher. Died of wounds.