Up on Holy Hill, the little church of St. Eunan looks down on Loch Insh, as it has done for more than 1,300 years.
A brief climb,…
…and the very first headstone proves far more interesting than it appeared at the time.
It was only on my return home that I was sure that we had a Great War casualty mentioned here, as ‘who died in service in G.E.A.’ is clearer on the photograph than it was in real life, and anyway, because there are only so many hours in a day, sometimes in cemeteries or churchyards you have to shoot first and see what you’ve captured later – a bit like the old days of photography, except a digital screen allows me to know that I have, at least, captured something. In fact, Corporal P. G. MacDonald, who served with the South African Engineers, died on active service on 17th March 1918 in German East Africa. His records show that he was originally buried in Songea European Cemetery in what was at the time Tanganyika,…
…although, on the face of it, there’s appears to be some potentially dodgy identification going on with regard to some of the men listed here – check out the right hand column on this 1926 register of the graves at Songea.
Fast forward to 1975. Tanganyika has been Tanzania for ten years under the vehemently anti-colonialist Julius Nyerere, and a new cemetery, Dar-Es-Salaam War Cemetery, has been created outside the city to cater for 660 First World War graves of all nationalities whose original resting place, Dar es Salaam (Ocean Road) Cemetery, had been demolished in 1968 to make way for a new road. By the mid-seventies another 1,000 graves have been brought in from cemeteries across the country where their continued maintenance could no longer be guaranteed. I wonder why?
Dar-Es-Salaam War Cemetery now contains nearly 1,800 Empire, or Commonwealth, burials, of which a few dozen are Second World War, and there are over a hundred Great War casualties from other nationalities, mainly Belgian and German, who are also buried there.
Back in Scotland,…
…pity poor Henrietta, 62 years widowed.
Because I like the lichen, and because the headstone behind, background right, is of interest.
Two sons and a grandson.
Forty three year old Temporary Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Hugh Charles Madden, 1st Bn. Irish Guards and veteran of the South African War with the 16th Lancers, would die of wounds received on 12th November 1915. Fifteen months earlier, in September 1914, following the retreat from Mons, Madden, a major at the time, was O.C. No. 4 Company, 1st Bn. Irish Guards, a role he held until the following summer. July 1915 would see him recalled from duty to become Senior Major with the newly formed 2nd Bn. Irish Guards, due to embark for the battlefields on 17th August – by which time Madden had already returned to France where, on 16th August, he took command of his old battalion, 1st Bn. Irish Guards, being gazetted as a Temporary Lieutenant Colonel in early September. A month later, on 11th October, a few days after the official end to the Battle of Loos, a shell landed in the doorway of Madden’s headquarters dugout, seriously wounding the battalion’s Catholic Chaplain, Rev. Father John Gwynne, slightly wounding the Adjutant, Lord Desmond FitzGerald, and breaking both of Madden’s legs, and yet, as is the way of these things, leaving a number of others untouched. Although moved to a safer dugout, it was impossible to evacuate the wounded men until after dark, and it took seven hours to clear the trenches, Madden being carried out on a sitting litter, and transport them to hospital in Béthune, where Gwynne died the next day, from what I can gather to the dismay of the whole battalion. Madden’s wounds too would in the end prove fatal, and he died in hospital in London on 12th November. He is buried in Currin Church of Ireland Churchyard, County Monaghan, in Ulster. Both his sons would fight in World War II, where one would earn a D.S.O. and the other would die; his wife, who outlived him by nearly forty six years, lies here, and it is thanks to her (and Rudyard Kipling) that I can tell you this story.
Lieutenant Murray’s ship, the destroyer H.M.S. Duchess, was escorting the ill-fated battleship H.M.S. Barham on 12th December 1939 when the two ships collided in thick fog in the Mull of Kintyre. The Duchess capsized, her depth charges exploding as she sank, killing 124 of her crew, including George Wingate Murray. He is remembered on the Chatham Naval Memorial.
These stills come from the Pathé News film of the end of the Barham two years later in November 1941 – available in all its grotesqueness on YouTube.
T’other side of the same headstone. Dear Prudence.
The names of both Alexander & Samuel (Murdoch) Hutchison can be found on the Roll of Honour in the church, as we shall see shortly, although an initial cursory check only comes up with one on the CWGC database. A more thorough check reveals that both are actually there, but Samuel is incorrectly named as Hutchinson, with an ‘n’ – I suppose I shall have to inform the CWGC of this at some point.
Interesting little place, eh? There are worse places to spend eternity.
And if you ever visit, and you’re very lucky, you might spot one of these. And it might spot you, too.
For Nick & Ian.