All posts by Joe McKeown

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ROYAL BURGH OF WIGTOWN & DISTRICT COMMUNITY COUNCIL Monday 9th May 2016, 7.30 pm, Wigtown County Buildings

  1. Apologies
  2. Call for any Urgent Business
  3. Police Matters
  4. Approval of Minutes of previous meeting (11 April 2016)
  5. Updates & Reports 1. Consultations WP 2. Planning WP 3. Louis McGuffie Memorial (to include Parking and Bus Stop)
  6. Tasks from previous meeting: 1. Derelict properties (Robin/Cllr Geddes); 2. Machars Federation (Nick); 3. Community Resilience: to include storage container (Matt/Nick/Jock);
  7. Wigtown Week
  8. Communications, correspondence, etc.
  9. Councillors’ Issues
  10. Other Urgent Business
  11. Next meeting – Monday 13 June 2016, AGM at 7:30 pm followed by the normal business meeting at 8.00 pm, County Buildings, Wigtown


private john mc dowal

Private John McDowall

2nd Battalion, Canadian Infantry

Died 26 April 191poppy6

John McDowall was born on 12 September 1880 at Elrig, the son of farm labourer John McDowall and his wife Jessie McDowall (nee McCreadie). He was part of a large family with 5 brothers and 2 sisters. His early years were spent in Mochrum but, by 1911, John and his parents had moved to Wigtown, living at 19 Harbour Rd with John working as a baker. However it was not long before he emigrated to Canada.

On 22 September 1914, shortly after the outbreak of war John McDowall  enlisted with the Canadian East Ontario Regiment. His Attestation Papers show that he was working as a bar tender at the time, stood 5ft 3½in tall and had dark hair and hazel eyes. The Regiment was part of the first 32,000 Canadian soldiers to travel to Europe from Canada, arriving at Plymouth on 25 October. After a period of training they arrived in France and were in action at the Second Battle of Ypres.

John McDowall was killed in action on 26 April 1916 and is buried at Woods Cemetery, near Ypres. The cemetery contains 326 burials from the First World War and includes numerous burials of John’s comrades from the 2nd Battalion, including Thomas McCheyne, who died on the same day and who is named on Wigtown War Memorial.

private thomas mc cheyne

Private Thomas McCheyne    2nd Battalion, Canadian Infantrythomas mc cheyne

Died 26 April 1916

Private 81625 Thomas McCheyne was born on 18 August 1889 at Kirkinner, the son of Thomas Candlish McCheyne (a gamekeeper) and his wife, Elizabeth (nee McClelland). He was one of four local men to die in the war who had emigrated to Canada, and enlisted when war broke out, returning to fight for the mother country. Thomas had emigrated in about 1906 along with some of his siblings and enlisted on 12 December 1914 having had 3 years service with the 12th Manitoba Dragoons. He was a member of the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regiment).

The first contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, (including the East Ontarios) sailed on October 3 1914, comprising the 1st to 17th battalions. (By the end of the war there would be two hundred and sixty numbered battalions in existence.) Training and reorganization commenced upon arrival in the United Kingdom and it was not until 26 January 1915 that the Division was officially organized and moved to the Ypres Salient in April. The Canadians withstood German attacks – aided, for the first time on the Western Front, by the use of poison gas – and finally retired to secondary positions on 26 April, where they held on until 4 May.

Two weeks later, the Division was in action again at Festubert. Aiding in a diversionary offensive by the British armies, the Canadians suffered 2,204 casualties for gains of only 600 yards. Another futile attack was launched at Givenchy in June 1915, after which the Division moved to Ploegsteert. The Canadians began a long period of static warfare which would last them throughout the winter. Active operations resumed again in the spring of 1916, participating in the Battle of Mount Sorrel, and then restoring the situation at Sanctuary Wood. It was at some time during this resumption of activities that Thomas McCheyne fell, dying on 26 April 1916. He is buried at Woods Cemetery at Ypres in Belgium which contains 326 First World War burials, 32 of them unidentified. John McDowall, also from Wigtown, died on the same day and lies close to Thomas in the Cemetery.

Thomas McCheyne had no fewer than five cousins who were killed in the war; four are commemorated on Kells Parish War Memorial, New Galloway and one on Kirkmabreck Parish Memorial, Creetown.