The Cumnock Chronicle

May 25th 1923

From the Cumnock Chronicle of May 25th 1923

New Cumnock



On Sunday afternoon the memorial stone set up to the memory of those former pupils of Bank Public School who fell in the war, was unveiled by the Rev James Hamilton, Kilmarnock, chairman of Ayrshire Education Authority. The service was conducted in the open, and despite occasional heavy showers there was a splendid attendance from all parts of the parish. A platform had been erected beside the memorial, and at the other side seats were provided for members of the committee and their wives.

Mr John Cowan, headmaster, presided, and he was supported on the platform by the Rev Mr Hamilton, the Rev John Mechie, Bank Church; the Rev William Gilmour, Baptist Church and Messrs John Nicol, James McEwan and James Tweedie. Led by the children’s choir, the 23rd Psalm was sung, after which the Rev Mr Gilmour engaged in prayer.

The chairman said that in introducing to them that day the Rev James Hamilton he was not introducing a complete stranger. In addition to being the chairman of the Education Authority of Ayrshire, Mr Hamilton was a well-known and highly respected clergyman in Kilmarnock. He represented the Authority at their service, and while it was not an easy matter to secure his services, they were very pleased to have him with them on such a memorable occasion.

Mr Hamilton on rising to unveil the memorial said:- I can assure you I count it a very great privilege and a very high honour to be asked to take part in the proceedings of this afternoon. This is really a historic day in the annals of Bank Public School. We are met for the purpose of commemorating the deeds of gallantry, heroism and sacrifice on the part of those thirty-two pupils of this school who gave all that men could give in order to maintain our liberty and honour. I have not the slightest doubt but there are many features connected with the war which we desire to forget, things that we would desire to be blotted from our memory if that were possible. But there are other features which were revealed to us in connection with the war which must be so long as life in this world endures, must be unforgettable, and among those things that we can never forget is just


by these lads who were educated in our Scottish schools. I would be the last to minimise the importance which attaches to the great public schools of our country. There is perhaps a tendency today to over-emphasise the influence of the larger schools of the towns and cities at the expense of what might be termed our country schools. But when we think of the past history of our country schools, and when we judge them by what they produced, I think they will bear most favourable comparison with any schools throughout the land, however namely those schools may be. From our country schools there have gone those who have risen to positions of high distinction, who have brought glory and honour to the British Empire, not only in the fields of war, but also in those other fields which have been perhaps productive of more valuable assets to our nation. Christian missionaries and pioneers; men who have led the way in commerce and in trade; and artisans of no mean ability – these and many others have


into various parts of the world and have contributed to the national well-being and welfare. The Empire owes more perhaps than it can estimate to the training and the teaching which has been given in our country schools in Scotland, during the past two generations at least. Then there is the grit inherent in the Scottish character developed in the country schools, and I have no doubt that from Bank School there has gone a goodly company who, by reason of their character and industry, have acquitted themselves in their various spheres and callings as to shed distinction on their old school. But this afternoon we are not here to recall those who achieved distinction in the realms of politics or commerce or industry, but to commemorate the lives of those who in another way enriched and


No higher distinction could be brought to this school than has been added to it by those thirty-two lads who laid down their lives on the wild fields of war. It is true the country has owed much to the playing fields of our great English public schools, but Scotland, Britain and the Empire owe an immeasurable, an incalculable debt to its country schools. It was in these that a vastly unreckonable number of our soldiers received their education, training and in great measure the physical, moral and mental equipment with which they went forth to fight battles of their country. Bank Public School has done its duty and done it nobly. I understand from amongst the old pupils a great company took part in the great campaign, and of those thirty-two paid the great price, the greatest price any man could give on behalf of his fellow men. On the threshold of life, when life was sweet and full of promise, and before they received any opportunity in the big world, these lads brought glory and lustre to this school and village. And it is well that you should


and what they accomplished; that you should raise this memorial to your unreturning brave. Here is a monument which will remain as long as this school stands. In erecting it you are honouring your gallant dead, but you are also honouring yourselves. It is your recognition intangible form of their heroism and sacrifice, and it will long remain an emblem of their devotion to duty; of patriotism; of their fidelity unto death to those principles which form the bedrock foundation of the highest and best character of any man or any nation. This monument will be the silent witness of the mould out of which these brave and gallant lads were cast – the lads who loved their country and gave their lives for their countrymen. May none of the present, may none of the future pupils of this school, may none of us whose schooldays are past, be unworthy of the glory and lustre which these lads have brought to their native land. May we all prove by our lives that we are worthy of what they accomplished for us at so great a cost to themselves.

Mr Hamilton then cut the cord supporting the Union Jack that covered the stone, and said – I unveil this memorial and dedicate it to the glory of God and the everlasting memory of thirty-two brave boys of Bank Public School who gave their lives in the Great War.

Mr Nicol then read the names inscribed on the stone. The Last Post was sounded, and as the last note died in the distance, the Rev Mechie engaged in the dedication prayer.

Mr Mechie said – O Lord, our God, as we have set up this simple memorial lovingly, reverently, enduringly, we turn to Thee in lowly prayer for its further dedication. Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it; and we know that unless in this memorial we have been truly seeking the greater glory of Thee our God, all our intentions and all our attainment will have failed. This stone which we now solemnly dedicate is a tender and loving tribute by many to the memory of those – our sons and brothers and fathers – the unreturning brave, who in the days of their youth attended this school around which so many associations cling. As we thus think of them we pray for those who were connected with them by the ties of blood; to whom their loss came home with keenest, sorest pain. May their hearts be uplifted now, and always by the comfort of the thought that their dear ones are


of those who loved not their lives unto the death, but manifested in their dying a spirit akin to the spirit of Him who said, “Greater love has no man than this; that he lays down his life for a friend.”. And for us taking part in this service, we ask that we may be found worthy of all that this memorial stands for – the supreme sacrifice which these Bank Schoolfellows made. They died that we might live; may we seek in all sincerity and earnestness to use our time, our strength, our every opportunity for advancement of the cause of righteousness and of peace; for the bringing in of the Kingdom of God by loyalty to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ; and by manifesting always the mind and spirit which were in Him. May the solemn service of this day be used of Thy Spirit, specially


the young men and maidens gathered here, to start out on the great adventure of living with the firm resolve, the high endeavour to be good and pure and true, to do what in them has to make the world better; to be worthy of those whom today we are gladly and gratefully remembering. May there be here for all of us a new call to faith, to prayer, to compassion, to all unselfish service and purpose – the call to make the future fairer than the past, to make the past appear a troubled dream. All these things we ask for Jesus’ sake and for the glory of His name – Amen.

Mr McEwan said the committee had honoured him in asking him to hand over the memorial to the custody of the Education Authority. He was pleased to ask Mr Hamilton to take over the stone – their token of respect for and pride in the boys of Bank School who laid down their lives for the cause of Liberty and Right in the Great War.

Rev Mr Hamilton said it afforded him great pleasure, and it was indeed a great privilege, to take over the memorial stone in the name of the Authority. He assured all that it would be cared for and kept in good repair and in a manner worthy of those whose memory it honoured.

The Chairman, speaking of the monument, said that when all arrangements had been made the final choice had fallen on a rough-hewn block of grim, grey granite. It is rough and unpolished, like ourselves, who are common working folk. Yet in its roughness there is a certain majesty and dignity of appearance that is most fitting. When we look on the stone it will be with a feeling of pride and thankfulness. While the tear may be in our hearts, we will not let it be seen in our eyes; we will not sorrow as souls without hope.

After Mr Mechie had pronounced the benediction, the children of the school filed past the monument at the salute, and each one in passing laid a flower at the foot of the stone. Wreaths from the infant, junior and senior classes were placed alongside those of the committee. Then followed the Boy Scouts of the 46th and 47th Troops under Captains Morison and Burgoyne, with their wreaths, and after them came the general public.


The memorial stands about ten feet high. It is mounted on a square plinth and is of rough granite, and on the side facing the public road is a polished panel on the upright column bearing the inscription; “In honour of the Bank School Lads who fell in the Great War 1914 – 1918” and the names of the fallen in relief. It is erected in front of the school building in a railed enclosure. Round the border of the enclosure Mr Jackson, school janitor, has arranged a beautiful rock garden in miniature, which greatly enhances the site of the memorial. The thirty-two names on the panel are:-

Andrew Armstong, Camerons
Matthew Brown, R.S. Fusiliers
Matthew Campbell, Gordons
Robert Clapperton, R. Field Artillery
William Collins, Royal Scots
Maitland Crolley, R.S. Fusiliers
Thomas Davidson, R.S. Fusiliers
Thomas S Dick, Machine Gun Corps
Nisbet Gray, Black Watch
Andrew Hart, Scots Guards
William Hill, Machine Gun Corps
William Hunter, R.S. Fusiliers
John Jarvie, K.O. Scottish Borderers
James Kerr, K.O. Scottish Borderers
Robert Martin, Scots Guards
Robert Martin, Seaforth Highlanders
John B Melvin, Black Watch
George Miller, Camerons
Robert Murray, Duke of Connaught’s (sic) L.I.
David McClymont, R.S. Fusiliers
James McCulloch, R.S. Fusiliers
John Nisbet, R.S. Fusiliers
Alexander Rorrison, R.S. Fusiliers
Hugh Samson, Ayrshire Yeomanry
Robert S Seaton, 66th Canadians
George Sloan, Machine Gun Corps
James Stevenson, R.S. Fusiliers
Alexander Sweden, R.S. Fusiliers
Richard Telfer, Camerons
David Trotter, R.S. Fusiliers
Matthew Watters, R.S. Fusiliers
David McSephney, R.S. Fusiliers

The headmaster wishes publicly to acknowledge the great services rendered by Mr John Jackson, janitor, for all that he has done towards making the memorial a success; also the School Girl Guides, the committee, and the parents, whose enthusiasm made the proposal a success from the beginning.

(Webmaster's note - the names on this monument are included because they are listed along with the regiments which are not on the memorial itself)

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