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Family Connections with the First World War
Until about four years ago I had not known of any family members who were involved in the First World War. I had read a lot of accounts of WW1, particularly accounts from the trenches, but had not known of any relatives who had been involved. My cousin Irene’s recent book The Fifth Son mentions Robert A. Johnston and Stewart Johnston and caused me to find out more about the family connections I had with the First World War.
I have now discovered four family members who fought and died in that war. And doubtless there were others.
David Paterson (born 1891) was a son of my great great grandfather Stewart Paterson. David Paterson was my father's mother's mother's half-brother. He went to fight in World War I with the Royal Canadian Regiment and was killed in Flanders on 3 August 1916 aged 25. He is buried in the Menin Road South Military Cemetery, Belgium. He is commemorated on the war memorial in the centre of Earlston. He was a lance-corporal.
He had emigrated to Canada around 1910 and later enlisted at Halifax Nova Scotia on 23st August 1915. His detailed Canadian Army record says
that he was 5ft 11ins in height and that in civilian life he was a carpenter. He was unmarried.
I found the picture of David Paterson on the Coldstream & District Local History Society website where it says that he “had farmed in Saskatchewan ... On outbreak of War he left his land in the care of a neighbour, enlisted and came over to France with the second Canadian Contingent“.
Robert A. Johnston (born 1877 in Earlston) was a brother of my grandfather Andrew Johnston. He was a private in the Gordon Highlanders. He was taken prisoner and was moved to Germany. He was shot in the back while trying to escape from the POW camp on October 16th 1918 - less than a month before the end of the war.
I have not yet been able to discover where he was taken prisoner or when. The details of the escape would also be fascinating to find out about – for example was it a mass escape, or was he escaping on his own?
He married Sarah McDougall on June 5 1903. They had had two children, Christine Johnston and Robert Johnston. Sarah McDougall died of tuberculosis on 20 October 1911 at 103 Edington Street, Glasgow.
Robert A. Johnston’s Glasgow address at the time of his death was 86 North Watson Street. (North Watson Street was later renamed Callander Street.)
Stewart Johnston (born 1880 in Hawick) was another brother of Andrew Johnston. He was killed on April 9th 1917. He was a private in the Highland Light Infantry (42612). [Also Royal Scot Fusilier, 29020]I have not yet found any evidence of him being married. The “Glasgow Roll of Honour” has his address as 26 Edmund Street, and this is the same address that his sister Helen Johnston (Aitkenhead) lived at. In the 1901 census he is not listed with his parents and other siblings at 138 New City Road, so it seems he had moved out of the family home by that time.
He is buried in Tilloy Lane Cemetery, Tilloy-les-Mofflaines (Plot C.10).
I now find it interesting that I knew my grandfather until he died when I was about 16, he even lived with us for a while, yet I knew nothing about the fact that he had two brothers who had fought and died in the First World War. Maybe it's not the kind of thing you just talk about.
Jasper Younger Paterson was the son of my great great grandfather's brother Fyfe Paterson.
Jasper was born on 5th August 1882. He died in the First World War on 29 June 1917 at the age of 35. He was in the 43rd Battalion of the Canadian Infantry. He is buried at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, Pas de Calais, France.
He was a cousin of David Paterson and, like him, had emigrated to Canada. The Canadian records list his parents as Fyfe and Janet Paterson, of Eckford, Roxburghshire, Scotland.
His father Fyfe Paterson died, in Edinburgh, five weeks after Jasper’s death.
Stewart Paterson (born 27 May 1883) was my grandfather’s cousin. He was the grandson of Stewart
Paterson, molecatcher. Read his WW1 connections here
Glasgow Valuation Rolls
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Canadian Army Records
“Glasgow Roll of Honour” - Evening Times
“The Fifth Son - memories of a Glasgow childhood 1916-1938” by I.J.Williams about her father’s early life
Website of the Coldstream & District Local History Society