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World War One: Remembering Pettinain’s Fallen

Impact of World War One on Upper Clydesdale

The Great War (later known as World War One) broke out 28 July 1914 (though Britain did not declare war until 4 August 1914) and continued until 11 November 1918. It is estimated there were 20 million deaths and 21 million wounded – numbers that are bearly comprehensible.

The effects of war on all communities, in all countries, were horrific. In rural communities such as ours, the losses, so keenly felt in families, also had a major impact in the agricultural industry. As agricultural workers enlisted for military service and farm horses were requisitioned by the authorites, the impact on agriculature was significant. The situation was compounded by u-boat attacks. By 1917 Britain only had three weeks supply of food left to feed the nation. It was in this year that the Women’s Land Army was founded. With the help of these women, farmers wives, men too old to serve in the military, school children, prisoners of war and conscientious objectors, along with improved agricultural techniques and machinery, the challenges were gradually overcome.

Field of Poppies
Poppies: An enduring symbol of remembrance for those who have fallen in conflict and of hope for a peaceful future

Remembering Pettinain’s Fallen

To appreciate the impact of World War One on Upper Clydesdale, we’ll be examining the experiences of just one small, rural community – the village of Pettinain.

Unlike many of the Lanarkshire villages, Pettinain only ever had one Church, the Church of Scotland building. Its site is in a prominent position on the hilltop beside the old village. Unfortunately, it was closed by the Church of Scotland in 1995 and sold to the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust for a nominal fee of £1, to avoid it being sold for housing.

Inside the church there is a beautiful marble tablet which records the Roll of Honour* of those men from the church and the parish who sacrificed their lives. Two of the Rev James MacMeekin’s sons, Guy and James, are listed on the memorial, highlighting the heartbreak that families suffered. Private John Potter, who sadly has no known grave, but is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France is also on the memorial.

* “A Roll of Honour” is a list of people whose deeds or achievements are honoured, or who have died in battle

The Stories Behind the Names on Pettinain’s “Roll of Honour”

Details about the war dead listed on Pettinain’s memorial have been kindly provided by Mr Joe O’Raw from Craigneuk, Wishaw:


Captain Guy S. P. MacMEEKIN M.C.
12th Battalion Royal Scots

Guy died of wounds on 5th May 1918 as a prisoner of war. He almost certainly received his wounds during the attack by the Germans in late April near Hollebeeke, which was part of the German Spring Offensive (The Kaiser’s Battle). Guy was part of the 27th Brigade 9th Scottish Division, and was the son of the Reverend James and Mrs MacMeekin, of The Manse Pettinain and the first of their two sons to die in the war. Captain MacMeekin had previously won the Military Cross for bravery in the field.

Guy is interred in:
VALENCIENNES (ST ROCH) COMMUNAL CEMETERY. France.
Plot V. Row A. Grave 24.

Second Lieutenant James MacMEEKIN
5th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers

James was killed in action on 27th May 1918 during the German Spring Offensive (The Kaiser’s Battle), three weeks after his brother Guy. He was 20 years of age, was part of 149th Brigade 50th Division and was the son of the Reverend James and Mrs MacMeekin, of the Manse, Pettinain. Strangely enough James was also buried by the Germans originally in Pontavert German Cemetery which was mostly destroyed in later fighting.

James is now commemorated in:
LA VILLE – AUX – BOIS BRITISH CEMETERY, France.
Pontavert German Cemetery Memorial 17.

Second Lieutenant William A. HUNTER
Royal Air Force

William died on 3rd July 1918 at the Training Depot Station. He was 21 years of age and was the eldest son of Mr and Mrs David and Elizabeth Hunter, of St. Ronan’s Road, Lanark. William had been employed as an apprentice with the family business, Hunter and Jack, in Glasgow in 1913 and worked there while studying engineering at evening classes at Glasgow Royal Technical College from 1913/14 until 1916/17. He joined the Royal Flying Corps at the age of 19 on 26th August 1917 and trained as a pilot. Sadly during the final stages of his training his aircraft came down in the sea off Gullane, East Lothian and he was drowned.

William is interred in PETTINAIN CHURCH YARD.

Second Lieutenant Andrew PRENTICE
Royal Air Force

Andrew died on 16th October 1918 when his plane accidentally collided with another plane, probably during a training flight. Andrew was flying at 5,000 feet and was coming down out of a cloud when he collided with other plane at 1,000 feet. Andrew was 19 years of age and was serving at 42nd Training Depot Station. He was the son of Mr and Mrs Charles and Mary Leathead Prentice, of ‘Westraw’ Mains. Previous to enlisting Andrew was in the employment of the Royal Bank, Lanark.

Andrew is interred in PETTINAIN PARISH CHURCH YARD.

Private Thomas THOMSON
5th Battalion Cameron Highlanders

Thomas was killed in action on 14th July 1916 during the capture of Waterlot Farm, which was part of the Battle of the Somme. Thomas was part of 26th Brigade 9th (Scottish) Division, and was born in Barony Parish Glasgow and enlisted at Glasgow. He was the son of Mr and Mrs Robert and Jean Ogilvie Thomson.

Private Thomson has no known grave and is commemorated on:
THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, Somme, France.
Pier and Face 15B

Rifleman William BARRIE
10th Battalion Cameronians/Scottish Rifles

William died of wounds on 22nd July 1916 almost certainly received in the attack on the ‘Kink’ in the Loos Sector, France. He was part of 26th Brigade 15th (Scottish) Division, was born in Pettinain, enlisted at St. John’s Kirk, and resided at Carstairs.

Private Thomson is interred in:
LONGUENESSIE (ST. OMER) SOUVENIR CEMETERY, France.
Plot IV. Row A. Grave 13.

Private John POTTER
2nd Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

John was killed in action on Saturday 25th September 1917 on the first day of the Battle of Loos. He was 39 years of age, was part of 19th Brigade 2nd Division, ‘B’ Company, born in Motherwell enlisted at Lanark and resided at (High) Cloburn. John was the son of Mr and Mrs Alexander and Catherine Potter, of Uddingston; husband of Mary Ritchie Smith Potter, of (High) Cloburn, Carmichael.

Private Potter has no known grave and is commemorated on:
LOOS MEMORIAL, Pas de Calais, France.
Panel 125 – 127.

Private Andrew K.H. MILLER
9th Battalion Cameronians/Scottish Rifles

Andrew was killed in action on 4th April 1917 in the Arras sector during the build-up to the Arras Offensive, which started on 9th April 1917. He was part of 27th Brigade, 9th (Scottish) Division and had previously served with the Lanarkshire Yeomanry No. 1711. Andrew was born in Carluke, enlisted at Hamilton and resided at Braidwood and was the son of Mr and Mrs R. Miller, of Coraigburn, Braidwood.

Private Miller is interred in:
HIGHLAND CEMETERY, Roclincourt, France.
Plot I. Row B. Grave 9.

Gunner/Signaller Robert CROSBIE
Royal Garrison Artillery

Robert died of wounds on 14th July 1917 in the Ypres Salient, Belgium. He was 21 years of age was born at Crossford, enlisted at Hamilton and resided in Bothwell. Robert was the son of Mr and Mrs Thomas Crosbie, of Auchinraith estate, Bothwell.

Gunner Crosbie is interred in:
VLAMERTINGHE NEW MILITARY CEMETERY, Belgium.
Plot III. Row E. Grave 1.

The Pettinain War Memorial

There is a circular graveyard surrounding the church at Pettinain where the war memorial is sited. The circular shape suggests the cemetery could be quite an early example of a Christian place of worship. It has been purported that this shape was chosen because there were no corners for the Devil to hide in! However it may also hark back to the pagan practice of worship within stone circles.

It is within this churchyard, and in an elevated peaceful spot, that the statuesque War Memorial stands proudly above the surrounding countryside.

Further Research

If you are interested in researching wartime history further, the following resources may be of value:

  1. Research on The Commonwealth War Graves commission https://www.cwgc.org/ provides information on Cemeteries in Scotland, where War Graves are located, including two at Pettinain. Sadly, there are many in Scotland and the rest of the UK.
  2. For those wishing to see the Roll of Honour memorial inside Pettinain church this can be arranged by contacting Daphne Alexander via the Museum. The Redundant Churches Trust http://www.srct.org.uk/ is a charity and donations for arranged visits will go a long way to upkeep the property.
  3. There are several pamphlets published by Lanarkshire Family History Society https://www.lanarkshirefhs.org.uk/ listing the fallen at some local cemeteries. Biggar Archaeology Group have also surveyed Biggar Cemetery and listed the War Graves – see http://biggararchaeology.org.uk/survey-of-st-marys-churchyard-biggar/
  4. There is a great deal of information and photographs about the two World Wars held in the Biggar Museum archive. You can access these by arranging a visit to the archive. Please complete the online booking form or telephone 01899 221050.
  5. Details about The Crimean War and the Polish Soldiers of WWII are on display inside the museum.

Author: Elaine Edwards & Charlie Todd
Date: 2nd Nov 2021 Back to Blog
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