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Ardross 'unknown soldiers' group seek help in Great War tribute bid

By Hector MacKenzie

June Munro (left) and Joan Scott at the Ardross Church War Memorial. Picture: Ian Rhind
June Munro (left) and Joan Scott at the Ardross Church War Memorial. Picture: Ian Rhind

AMATEUR time detectives seeking to honour Ross-shire men who lost their lives in the First World War have appealed for help in unravelling the mystery surrounding fallen local heroes.

With the centenary of the start of the Great War set to be marked in August 2014, activists in Ardross have set themselves a mission of commemorating men from the district involved in the brutal conflict.

They hope to pay tribute to the men and their families by finding out as much as possible about forgotten servicemen whose names are inscribed in a memorial inside Ardross Church.

The memorial, which lists the names of the fallen from the Estate of Ardross, was unveiled by General Sir Walter C. Ross of Cromarty in 1922.

June Munro, who lives in Ardross, initially launched an appeal through the letters column of the Ross-shire Journal in June. In it, she listed all of the names and ranks of those featuring on the memorial. Volunteers have since been busy following up leads and cross-checking information passed on by readers and local historians.

It’s understood like-minded activists in other Ross-shire communities may be interested in pursuing a similar project, raising the possibility of joint working to share information and useful tips.

Mrs Munro said: “We will, of course, research official records but there must be descendants or members of the families of those men who have personal information or photographs that can help us build a picture of their lives so cruelly cut short. If anyone can help us we would be most grateful. We are a small group of ladies involved with Ardross Church who wish to honour the memory of these men.”

Information locally has been given by Iain MacLeod at Dingwall Museum and Mhairi MacKenzie at Ross and Cromarty Heritage Society.

Mrs Munro added: “We are still using the memorial itself as our starting point but are becoming aware of some discrepancies in spelling and numbering. So far we have no information at all on seaman John MacKay, Royal Naval Reserve; Private Roderick Matheson of the 2nd Battallion Seaforth Highlanders or Private Colin MacKellar of the 4th Battallion Seaforth Highlanders.

“We would welcome any information about any of the men listed, especially the three mentioned and particularly about their lives before the war and of course any photographs there may be that we could hopefully borrow and copy.”

Can you help? Interested in getting involved? A list of names on the Ardross memorial can be obtained by emailing June Munro on juneandrobmunro@aol.com or Margaret Black on maragretblackardross@gmail.com. It can also be seen at Alness Heritage Centre.

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