The Cumnock Chronicle

9th May 1947

From the Cumnock Chronicle of the 9th of May 1947

New Cumnock



Members of New Cumnock Higher Grade Former Pupils’ Club witnessed the realisation of a year’s faithful and ungrudging work on Sunday afternoon, when a memorial tablet was unveiled in the school in honour of twenty-one former pupils who lost their lives on service during the Second World War.

The erection of the memorial tablet has been due to the initiative and untiring efforts of the School’s Former Pupils’ Club. At the annual general meeting last year, Mr John Hunter, a member of the Club, moved that the Club should take steps to have erected in the school a memorial tablet, worthy of the former pupils of the school who had given their lives in the last world war (1939 – 1945). The other members unanimously agreed to the proposal and preliminary steps were taken at once. Advertisements were put in local and other newspapers, requesting information about those who had fallen, and asking for donations to help to meet the cost. Parents were invited to subscribe through their children at the school, and the committee of the club did splendid service by visiting people in their homes and collecting subscriptions. The club itself gave generously from its funds. The response was generous and eventually the amount collected was considered sufficient to defray the cost.

In the meantime, Messrs Archibald Hamilton, Engravers and Art Metal Specialists, Glasgow, were asked if they would design and prepare a suitable memorial. They agreed to do so. As the committee desired the new tablet not to differ too much from the memorial already erected in the school in honour of the former pupils of the school who fell in the First World War (1914 – 1918), a representative of the firm visited the school to give advice on the matter. Sometime later the firm submitted its design. This, with a few minor alterations, was approved by the committee, and Messrs Hamilton were asked to proceed with the preparation of the memorial itself. This work took several months to complete, but the tablet was finally erected in the school on Wednesday of last week, in readiness for the dedication and unveiling ceremony on Sunday last.

The Rev A. Burnett conducted the simple little service on Sunday, at which the next of kin of the fallen were invited to be present.

The service commenced with the singing of the 23rd Psalm (Miss Janet Mills at the piano), after which, Mr Burnett took his lesson from the VII th Chapter of the Book of Revelations:-
“After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes and palms in their hands:
And cried with a loud voice, saying, salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
And all the angels stood round the throne, and about the elders, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God.
Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen
And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, what are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said unto me, these are they which have come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more: neither shall the sun light upon them, nor any heat.
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”

A two minutes’ silence was then observed, followed by prayer.

In his dedication address, Mr Burnett said that they were met that day to do honour to the memory of twenty-one young men of New Cumnock Parish, and all former pupils of the Higher Grade School, who had made the supreme sacrifice in the Second World War. They formed part of a mighty host drawn from many liberty loving nations who. on land, on sea, and in the air, placed their bodies between their homes and the most cruel despotism that had ever assailed free peoples, and so saved the world from sinking back into barbarism.

“We are proud that from our own homes sprang heroes who, in the hour of our country’s danger, did not count the cost, but were ready to die rather than that the foot of a foreign tyrant should desecrate the land they loved, and so-

We are remembering today the bravest and the best
The gallant and the gay gone west
Clamour of time or change can never drown
The thought of what they won in high renown
Nor can the grave blot out the memory
Of all they gave for us

We parted from them with prideful sorrow; we followed them with our prayers and we did our best during their absence to assure them that, in a tangible form at home there were hearts anxious for their welfare and yearning for their return. These have not returned to see the fruits of victory which they did so much to see achieved and they have found an honoured sepulture in distant lands.

There is no need of a memorial to remind us who they were, for their names are written in our hearts and their heroic deeds will live in our memory, but that those who come after will know that, in the greatest crisis in human history, twenty-one young men who were nurtured in this school made the supreme sacrifice, a memorial tablet has been erected and will be unveiled shortly by the beloved headmaster, Mr Dow.

This memorial is the result of the efforts of the Former Pupils’ Club. They, I understand, initiated the project, raised the necessary funds and brought the work to completion as a token of their love and gratitude to comrades’ alas’ now no longer with them. It shall remain in this school as a source of joy and inspiration to succeeding generations of pupils, but do not let us conclude that we have discharged our obligations to our fallen comrades when we have raised a memorial to their memory and have inscribed their names on perishable brass. That would be to prove unworthy of the service which they have rendered and the sacrifices which they have made. Let this memorial be a challenge to us to live worthily of all that has been done and sacrificed for us. Let not the high ideals for which they fought and suffered and died be tarnished by us with selfishness. Let not the gratitude which fills our hearts today be a transient emotion. Let not the God, whose help we sought in the dark days of defeat be forgotten by us in the days of peace, but let us enthrone Christ in our hearts, honour God in our public and national life, and work together in the spirit of brotherhood and mutual helpfulness for the peace and prosperity of our beloved land, and for the building of a new and better land, that we may become the pioneers of a better age and make the past a power and the future a joy for those who shall come after us.”

Mr Burnett then asked Mr William Dow, Honorary President of the Former Pupils’ Club for the last twenty years and who, as headmaster of this school, knew intimately the lads whose names were inscribed upon it, to unveil the memorial.

As he performed the ceremony, Mr Dow quoted the immortal lines from Laurence Binyon’s “For the Fallen”-

“They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary nor the years condemn;
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them”

At this point Mr Burnett dedicated the memorial tablet to the glory of God. He then engaged in prayer and terminated the service with the Benediction.

“The Last Post” and “Reveille” were sounded by Mr John Dalziell.

The tablet, which is mounted on a mahogany frame, is of rolled brass, and the lettering is incised. Down the centre of the tablet is an unsheathed sword, on either side of the blade of which are placed the names of the fallen. The hilt of the sword is surmounted by a cluster of laurel leaves in green. The tablet has a border of Celtic design and the inscription reads:-

“New Cumnock Higher Grade School. In Remembrance, 1939 – 1945”

Under the names the inscription is continued

“Their name liveth for evermore.
Erected by public subscription under the auspices of the Former Pupils’ Club”

The twenty-one names are:-

(Webmaster’s note – the names and units followed as per the inscription)

We think it only fair to mention that the final cost of the tablet was considerably more than was at first anticipated, and the Former Pupils’ Club had again to dip into its funds to meet the extra expense. The Club thanks the public for their generous response to the appeal for assistance, and the school owes a lasting debt of gratitude to the Former Pupils’ Club, and particularly to its energetic secretary, Miss Mary McBlain, and her fine committee, for their hard work, and the success which has attended their efforts to attain their ideal – the erection in the school of a beautiful memorial in honour of the noble dead.

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