Letters to WW1 soldiers discovered during Stirling Station works

Network Rail

LETTERS and postcards dating back to the First World War have been uncovered during works to renew the roof of Stirling Station.

The Network Rail project involves the full refurbishment of all slate roofs, with the non-glazed roof sections of the A-listed building being inspected and repaired.

The site team discovered the ‘treasure trove’ of historic notes and postcards during an inspection of the crawl space of the station’s roof.

Stirling Station (Cornfield, Shutterstock)

They dated back as far as 1912, with several being dated April 1916 – having been sent to troops and regiments stationed in the barracks at Cambusbarron, with the letters requesting that they collect kit bags and parcels from the station.

Following the discovery, Network Rail contacted the regimental museums for the Gordon Highlanders, the Cameron Highlanders and the Black Watch in a bid to trace the named soldiers, and determine where they were stationed during the war, and if and when they returned home.

Information gained from the Cameron Highlanders museum has revealed that the 8th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders left for France in July 1915, landed at Boulogne and took over a sector in the line at Loos on 6th August.

The first major battle for the 8th Seaforth was the attack at Loos on 25th September which resulted in a high number of casualties and the battalion losing 718 of the 776 men it started the day with.

Having clear detail on some of the postcards has allowed the Regimental Museum to identify and trace Captain & Quartermaster Arthur James MacDonald of the 8th Battalion of the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders. Captain MacDonald was wounded on 28th October 1918, possibly at the Battle of Cambrai.

Given that this was only several weeks from Armistice, the Regimental Museum believes that it was likely he survived the war and possibly returned home. Network Rail said it is keen to hear from anyone who has any information on Captain & Quartermaster MacDonald.

The organisation is appealing for any information on the soldiers and their regiments named in the postcards:

  • 2nd Lt. J M or H Campbell    11th Gordon Highlanders
  • Private W Reddiford   B Company 11th Gordon Highlanders
  • Private George Rankine 6th Black Watch
  • Officer Commanding A Company, 11th Gordon Highlanders

Helen Agnew, Network Rail project manager for the Stirling Station roof works, said, “It’s been incredible to see these postcards, many of which are more than one hundred years old and to find out about some of the items that were sent on the railway.

“Finding these items in the roof of the station has already offered a fantastic insight into the past but to be able to trace any family members of those who served would be incredible.”

Ernie Pope, coordinator for The Highlander’s Museum, added, “I believe the importance of remembrance is that everyone of us, in this country, will have a distant relative who either, took part in the Great War, or was impacted by it.

“We should never forget the suffering, loss and sacrifice made by so many during one of the darkest periods of world history. Let us all hope and pray we never see it’s like again.”