Insh – St. Eunan Church & Churchyard

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.

This entry was posted in Highlands, Scotland, U.K. Churches, Memorials & Cemeteries - Back in Blighty. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Insh – St. Eunan Church & Churchyard

  1. Nick Kilner says:

    Another fascinating post. A superb find, or number of finds actually. And yes, I’m on it ;-). Poor Prudence, presumably a result of childbirth at that age. One can only hope that the thought of them being reunited again a mere two years apart gave the family some comfort in their grief

  2. Nick Kilner says:

    So here’s my initial instinct regarding Samual Murdoch Hutchison – He wasn’t serving as an enlisted soldier when he died. I’ve checked for misspells (hope I spelt that correctly, or should that be spelled?) in the CWGC database and still not returned anything that fits, so it’s difficult to draw any other conclusion. Added to which he doesn’t have any rank on his headstone, whilst others in the same cemetery do. And yes, I’m aware that the same could be said for his brother, who also appears on the same headstone and is known to have served, but a little piece of me wonders if that was deliberate, because Samual wasn’t in service. Also notable is the fact that the headstone states ‘died in France’, not ‘Killed’ in France. That’s quite a distinction.
    I can only see two other possibilities. 1, He went off to war and decided not to return to Scotland, his family assuming he had been killed. This is extremely unlikely given they have a date of death for him, but people have been known to fake their own deaths. And 2, the CWGC have missed him. Whilst we know they are by no means infallible, this would be extraordinary. More digging required.

    • Peter Mackay says:

      belated in January 2024!
      Samuel Murdoch Hutchison of 1st Cameron Highlanders (S/ 25452) is recorded by CWGC as being buried in the Bray Military cemetery on the Somme. He formerly served in Royal Horse and Field Artillery. He is also commemorated, with his brother Alex, on the Insh village war memorial, as a private

  3. Magicfingers says:

    Spot on. Died in France. Not killed. So what was he doing that he died in France, is on the Roll of Honour in the church, but not deemed to have ‘served’ according to the authorities/CWGC? More digging required.

  4. Daisy says:

    Love the post. In the wilds of Scotland and what appears to be a beautiful location for a church full of history. From Scotland and off on a tangent to Tanganyika in East Africa and the Battle of the Tanganyika Lake, the longest stretch off fresh water in the world. Some amazing characters on both sides and strange battles…

    You would hope all the sailors were off the Barham prior to that gigantic explosion however it sunk within 4 minutes of 3 torpedoes hitting the ship with a loss of over 860 men. The British Pathé News footage is horrific…

    Dear Prudence… poor girl.


    • Magicfingers says:

      Yeah, I love finding out where some of the names in churchyards take me. Not only Tanganyika, but some burial forms unlike the ones we are used to for European burials too. As you mention the Battle for Lake Tanganyika, I presume you know the story of Mimi & Toutou?

      The exlposion when the Barham goes up still makes me flinch, and I’ve seen it dozens of times.

      • Daisy says:

        But those diversions can see hours slip away… I don’t mind.

        Yes, Mimi and Toutou; sent from England by ship, then in South Africa by train, then river boat, and finally hauled through the jungle by oxen to Lake Tanganyika. What a logistical triumph… Mimi and Toutou; Mia-ow and Bow-wow in French… hilarious!

        In their first action they captured Fifi… of course, what else would they call a commandeered German vessel. Fifi? In French; tweet-tweet… like a bird. Hilarious!

        What about the illustrious Germans? Another logistical triumph. The Graf von Götzen, 220 ft long and 1,575 tons was built in Germany, packed into 5000 crates and assembled in secret at Kigoma on the lake. The ship is still there as the MV Liemba sailing up and down the lake.

        Further reading? Captain Geoffrey Basil Spicer-Simson DSO, RN was a Royal Navy officer described as; “a man court-martialled for wrecking his own ships, an inveterate liar and a wearer of skirts.”

        In the preceding photo of the Barham you can see men on the upturned hull just prior to the explosion. Horrific footage!


        • Magicfingers says:

          Ah, I don’t think I know, or remember, about the Graf von Götzen – thanks for that – mind you, few people know much about the fighting there at all. I wonder whether I could get over there one of these days – my missus used to live in Zambia for a few years so she’d love to go back to that neck of the woods……
          Those men on the Barham’s hull – some must have survived, but not many – look at the size of some of the debris hitting the water………. terrrible.
          Btw, we have found Murdoch Hutchison – he is listed as Hutchinson on the CWGC database.

          • Daisy says:

            Definitely a forgotten front, few would know about it… true. If you organise a trip, count me in!
            A story about Mimi. Prior to leaving England they thought it would be a good idea to do some tests on the Thames, including the 3-pounder gun. They hit the target with the shell but the gun and the gunner were thrown into the river by the recoil. They had forgotten to bolt the gun properly to the deck. Where was the British Pathé News film crew when this happened? Would prefer to watch that funny video rather than the demise of the Barham.
            Good work on Murdoch Hutchi(n)son…

  5. Magicfingers says:

    I shall bear that in mind – stranger things have happened. Imagine standing by the lake discussing Mimi (nice story btw) & Toutou as the MV Liemba chugs past………

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