25579 Michael Tonner McNamee (MM) (Private) – Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) 17th Battalion.
My relative Michael McNamee died of wounds on the 19th of October 1918 at No 2 Canadian Casualty Clearance Station, while his division was engaged in the Battle of Ypres (28th September – 2nd October).
Michael was 22 years of age and was born and raised in Hamilton. He also enlisted in Hamilton and was part of the 106th Brigade 35th Division. Prior to enlisting he was employed as a Coal Miner at Ferniegair Colliery.
During his army service Michael had been awarded the Military Medal (MM). He was five feet four inches tall and weighed 98 pounds and was the son of Thomas McNamee and Jane Rankin Adams and their home address was 35 Church Street.
Michael is interred in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Plot XXX Row H, Grave 3.
WORLD WAR 2 1939-1945
Written by Wilma Bolton.
Despite the carnage of World War 1, the 1930’s brought war clouds gathering again over Europe and on the 3rd September, 1939, Britain once more declared war on Germany.
As the country mobilised for war, notices appeared in the Hamilton Advertiser informing the civilian population on issues such as gas masks, the blackout, evacuees, rationing and registering for National Service. The intimations page also underwent a change in content when the headings, Deaths on Active Service, Missing in Action and Prisoner of War were added.
May and June 1940 saw 338,226 troops rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk. Many Lanarkshire soldiers were killed or captured during this evacuation of the British Expeditionary Forces, or when fighting with the rear guard protecting the troops on the beaches. Among the soldiers being evacuated were Eddlewood brothers Owen and Charlie Lawless. Owen was killed in action. Charlie survived and fought throughout the duration of the war.
Two High Blantyre brothers, Robert and Jim McCulloch of Stonefield Crescent were also among the survivors. Unable to re-embark at Dunkirk the brothers who were in different units, both managed to reach Brest where they were picked up by one of the hundreds of vessels involved in the rescue. They were overjoyed when they met on board. Robert was lucky to be there, a wallet tucked into in his breast pocket had stopped a piece of shrapnel which undoubtedly would have killed him.
During the nights of the 13th-14th and 14th-15th March 1941, German bombers flew over Hamilton heading for Clydeside. The sky was lit up by searchlights and the town echoed with the noise from the local anti-aircraft guns firing at the planes, as they flew overhead. Aided by the light of a full moon, the bombers discharged a cargo of 105,300 incendiary bombs, bringing death and destruction to Clydebank.
Within two hours of the air raid starting, a large convoy of Hamilton first-aid ambulance and rescue vehicles, fire engines and mobile canteens left for the blazing town. Among the rescue teams were highly trained First Aid Party (F.A.P.) personnel including John Anderson, house factor; Andrew Adams, Portland Place; Gus Le Blonde, Scott Street; John Henderson, lorry driver, Portland Park; Paddy King winding engineman, Arden Road; Guy Lang, newsagent, Morgan Street; Johnny Logan, Alness Street and Bob Roxburgh, optician. It was to be four days before they returned home. Three men from the rescue teams were injured; Samuel Wright and Frank Bebbington received crushing injuries when bombed buildings collapsed on top of them and John Paul received a serious knee injury.
Blantyre also sent a substantial number of rescue personnel in a convoy of eighteen vehicles, nine of which were destroyed during the bombing. Among the rescue teams was Thomas Limerick a former miner and trained first aider from Bairds Rows. Two of the Blantyre rescue team were injured. Vincent McInerney suffered a compound fracture of his arm and David Paterson sustained serious back injuries.
On the 16th March, seven hundred Clydebank refugees arrived at Hamilton and were transported to sixteen previously earmarked rest centres at churches and halls throughout the town. Most of them had lost everything they owned and arrived with only the clothes they stood in.
Among the many families to take refugees into their homes were the McCrums of 54 Mill Road, Hamilton. Mrs Isabella McCrum had been helping with the refugees at Low Waters School where she worked as a cleaner. On returning home, she informed her husband Robert that all the refugees had been found accommodation with the exception of one family of five adults; a mother, three daughters and a son who did not want to be split up. Feeling sorry for them, they went to the school and brought the family back to their home. This family, the Langs, were to stay with the McCrums for the duration of the war. They were living in two bedrooms; one of them normally used by the McCrum girls who were hastily moved down into the living room to sleep. The other bedroom had been used by the four McCrum sons who were away fighting with the British army. One of them John; a Gordon Highlander fought at El Alamein and was wounded by shrapnel in Sicily but survived his injuries. George, a paratrooper also survived the war as did Robert, who fought with Wingate’s Chindits in Burma, but William, a Royal Scot, was killed fighting in Burma.
There were many local soldiers engaged fighting the grim battle against the Japanese in Burma. Another one was Cameronian, James Spiers one of three Earnock brothers, all of whom were regular soldiers fighting for their country. James was killed in Burma and has no known grave, Alexander, a Seaforth Highlander was captured at St Valerie while defending the soldiers being evacuated from Dunkirk. The third brother John, fought in Europe with the Cameronians. Both men rose through the ranks, Alex to become a Major and John a Captain.
On May 5th a bomb fell on the railway sidings behind Whitehill Road, Burnbank. Luckily there were no casualties.
The country was stunned when on 24th May; H.M.S. Hood was sunk with the loss of 1,417 men. Three young Hamilton sailors, William Pennycook, John Mullen and John Kirkland were among the dead.
In October,May Baillie a young Hamilton nurse, survived 8 days in an open raft after her ship was torpedoed 700 miles from land. She married two weeks after returning home.
Also in October, Lance-Corporal Jimmy Welsh, 6 Neilsland Drive, Meikle Earnock found himself in the thick of the fighting at El Alamein. During the bombardment he heard a sound which brought a lump to his throat. Rising and falling above the thunder of the guns he could hear the pipes of the gallant 51st Highland Division playing the soldiers into battle. The battle of El Alamein was won, resulting in the retreat of Rommel’s Afrika Korps and eventually the surrender of 250,000 German and Italian troops in North Africa.
By November the Government was calling on all “patriots” to give up disused articles of copper, pewter, zinc, lead, brass, bronze, aluminium to make munitions. Collection points were arranged and the people started clearing out their unwanted ferrous metal. The children of Russell Street, Hamilton helped, by having a door to door collection for scrap. Every piece of scrap paper was also collected and recycled.
All over Lanarkshire, people organised back door concerts, whist drives and other forms of entertainment to collect money for the war effort. Prisoners of war were not forgotten. Weekly lists appeared in the Hamilton Advertiser naming contributors to the Red Cross Prisoner of War Fund for food parcels and clothing.
Many local men were decorated for outstanding bravery and among them was Second Officer John Inglis of Burnbank who was awarded the George Medal in December 1942 for his courage when his ship was attacked by enemy aircraft.
1943 saw a turning point in the war and the country was now on the offensive instead of the defensive and winning major victories.
Sunday 26th October was designated “Battle of Britain” day and ceremonial parades and thanksgiving services were held all over the county. The same week saw the repatriation of 790 prisoners of war and civilian internees. Among the men repatriated were James Steel and Matthew McDonald from Burnbank and George Hall, Graham Avenue Eddlewood. Welcome home parties were held for all three men.
In February 1944 there was great excitement in Burnbank when Mrs Lily McGauchie proprietrix of a newsagents shop telephoned the police about a suspicious customer. It was just as well she did; he turned out to be an escaped German prisoner of war.
Among the mighty armada crossing the channel on D-Day June 6th were many of Lanarkshire’s sons. The Death on Active Service columns in the Hamilton Advertiser told of the high price of freedom being paid by local families. Among the dead were Earnock man Brian Cameron and Arthur Russell from Blantyre.
September saw the lights go on again after blackout restrictions were relaxed. This delighted the local children, many of whom had never seen the streets lights on.
In December the Home Guard held a “Stand Down” parade in Hamilton, three months later on May 7th 1945 the war in Europe ended and Hamilton celebrated with flags of all shapes and sizes flying from buildings and windows. Banners were thrown across streets, fairy lights were connected up and by nightfall the town was a mass of colour. Thousands of people danced in the streets and fires were lit on the top of Earnock and Neilsland bings.
At Larkhall there was cheering and singing around a bonfire at the “Old Cross,” after the official announcement that the war in Europe was over. Music was provided by Larkhall Home Guard Pipe Band and reels were danced at Charing Cross. In Blantyre the celebrations lasted three days, with bonfires, music and dancing.
The war with Japan continued for three months after V.E. Day but at midnight on August 15th, Larkhall folk were wakened by the sound of Trinity Church bells ringing out the news that the war with Japan was over. The bells were soon joined by hooters and sirens all loudly announcing the welcome news. By half past twelve bonfires were blazing all over town and spontaneous street parties were being held in Hamilton Road, Hareleeshill, Old Cross, Raploch Cross and Strutherhill.
Thirty minutes after the midnight announcement of the Japanese surrender, victory fires were lit all over Hamilton. The Old Cross was thronged with delighted citizens who danced eightsome reels to the music of pipers. Eventually most of the crowd made their way to the Council’s open air dance floor and danced the night away to the music of Tommy McLaren’s dance band.
In Blantyre’s Morris Crescent, there was a fireworks display using fireworks formerly employed in A.R.P. exercises. In High Blantyre, an effigy of the Japanese Emperor was burnt on one of the celebration bonfires after it was paraded throughout the village by children shouting “we want Togo” and all over the village, street parties were held to celebrate the end of the war.
Ⓒ Wilma S. Bolton. 2018.
A pencil of light hovered over the sky,
The moonlight revealed each passer-by,
Slowly the beam travelled westward, then
Clear-cut as crystal, compelling as youth,
Between two tall houses, then over the
Roaming the skies with a careless ease,
Touching as lightly as the wind on the
Who would have thought it was searching
Ref. Hamilton Advertiser. 27/4/1940. Page 4.
COCHRAN FAMILY TREE.
Ian Cochran contacted Historic Hamilton as he was wanting to know more about his family history. Ian asked,
“My father was James (Alexander) Cochran he was a killer worked in slaughterhouse he came from Hamilton, my mother Annie (Reid) Cochran came from Hamilton as far as i remember she always said came from the Fore Rows also as far as i remember she worked as cleaner in Hamilton school we were a family of 11 i had 8 sisters 2 brothers.
My brothers were killers too, all my family uncles, father, cousins. grandfather all worked in slaughterhouse when people used to ask who i was and when said Cochran they used to say not the killer Cochran’s they were well known in Hamilton.
And going back i was told grandfather killed the first bull in Hamilton slaughterhouse he even at one time had to kill one of the white cattle from Chatelherault.
I never knew my grandparents they passed very early, also my father used to tell me my mother’s ancestors were related to the Grahams of Claverhouse and these were the ones who betrayed the Covenanters because when i was small if they ever had arguments my father used to call her an old traitor (jokingly). If there is anything else i can provide if i can …”
Ian, here’s what I found.
To start, I have to say that your ancestors in every generation came from a large family and therefore to fully research your family tree it would take many weeks and months to fully research each member, I would really suggest that you look in to genealogy and take this up as a hobby, it is really fun and when you uncover a new member of your family, there is usually a story behind it.
As you stated, your parents were indeed Hamiltonian’s born and bred in Hamilton and they were an integrated family within the community. The slaughterhouse in Hamilton employed many men and when they worked there it was usually a job for life. My great uncle Jimmy Brunton was also an example of this, where he worked there from a young age until his retirement.
So, before I move on down through your family tree I will tell you where your parents lived. Your mum was born on the 4th of June 1906 at number 2 Fore Row, she was born at 10:30 AM and your grandfather James Reid signed her birth certificate. So, you are absolutely correct that there is a connection with Fore Row. When your mum lived on this street she would have been looking up at the creepy Muir Street cemetery where she may have even possibly played as a kid.
Your mum continued to live at 2 Fore Row right up until your she married your dad in 1924, so 2 Fore Row was indeed your mum’s family home and I have to mention around this time people moved around a lot, but this wasn’t the case with your grandparents, they seemed to like it here.
Your Grandfather on your mum’s side was born in Newarthill and this is where he lived with his parents in his younger years. He was tragically killed at the age of 41 where when at work he was run over by a train and he received a broken leg and arm and serious head injuries. This was indeed a very sad tragic accident.
A local newspaper covered his story and had given a brief account of what happened. But your grandfather’s death must have left a big empty hole within the family and left your gran a widow who had to bring up five kids on her own. It is unknown at this time if Ross colliery provided a pension for her.
Staying with your mum’s side of the family, your great grandparents were called Alexander Reid & Ann Marie Thomson and they were from Holytown. They married on the 5th of June 1863 and your Great grandfather was a Railway Brakes Man and Alexanders parents, your 2 X Great Grandparents were called Robert Reid who was a Railway Gate Keeper and Mary Lambie. As I stated, if you would consider taking up family research as a hobby, you will indeed find out much more about your family, but as we are venturing away out of Hamilton I have stopped researching this line here, but there is much more to uncover.
So, your Cochran linage, this is a massive family to research and I have gone as far as I could, however, the Cochran’s were a really well-known family of Butchers who lived around the Renfrew and Paisley areas.
Your father James Alexander Cochran was born in Hamilton on the 2nd of August 1903 at 10 Low Patrick Street, a street that no longer exists in Hamilton. At the moment I am unsure how long your father lived at Low Patrick Street, but I later find your family living at 11 Guthrie Street where they lived for roughly ten years. I next find your father living at 48 Chapel Street when this is the stated address on his marriage cert to your mum.
So, your parents married on the 6th of June 1924 at the manse on Union Street. The best man at the wedding was a man named John Faulds of 3 Postgate and Anne Martin of 39 Muir Street so these two people would have been close friends to your parents, perhaps you may know of them?
If I stay on your father’s side of the family, your grandparents were called Robert Cochran & Jane McIlveen Alexander. Your Grandfather was born at Paisley around the year 1874. Your Grandmother was born around 1868 at New Cumnock in Ayrshire.
During my research, I see many deaths as the result of tuberculosis (TB) and your grandmother sadly contracted this and succumbed to the disease where she died the at the family home of 48 Chapel Street, she was only 42 years of age. She died on the 16th of August 1916 and an obituary was written by your grandfather and appeared in the Hamilton Advertiser a week later.
Your great grandparents were called James Alexander & Jane McGavin, James was born in Sorn, Ayrshire around 1846 and Jane born in Mauchline around the year 1850. This side of the family lived around Ayrshire all their life.
I did uncover some pictures of your great, Great Grandparents on the Alexander side and they were called William Alexander & Jane Mcilvean. This side of your family came over from Ireland
I see a family resemblance to you in William Alexander, perhaps you carry a lot of his genes. So, the family came from Ireland and they settled in Ayrshire. William died in Catrine, Ayrshire on the 19th of February 1891 and Jane died on the 4th of February 1902 at Sorn, Ayrshire.
On the Alexander side of your family, your 3rd great grandfather was called John Alexander and your 3rd great grandmother was called Jane Roy, both were Irish. Yet again, if you research your family tree, you could learn a lot more. On Jane McIlvean’s side of the family your 3rd great grandparents were called John Mcilvean & Jane Hamilton, so here is your Irish family connection. If I could give an estimated birth year for all four of the 3rd great-grandparents, then the range would be between 1765 & 1805.
Moving back to your Grandfather Robert Cochran’s family, your great grandfather was also called Robert and he was born around the year 1850 at Paisley. He married your great-grandmother who was called Agnes Anderson. Your great-grandfather was a butcher to trade and if I were to take an educated guess, he was probably the son of a Butcher. I say guess, as I can’t find any further information on this line of your family and the reason for this is because there were so many Cochran’s living at Paisley & Renfrew around this time, there are also quite a few Robert Cochran’s to go through and to establish the correct one, this will require extensive research.
One thing which I did find is that your Great Grandparents Robert and Agnes immigrated to Wentworth, Ontario in Canada. They saw out the rest of their days here and you great grandfather Robert died on the 23rd of June 1931 at Wentworth. Agnes died on the 13th of March 1937 also at Wentworth.
Ian, I have discovered that you have lots of living cousins in Canada & America, below is a picture of one of your cousins who died in 2005, his name was Norman Gilbert and he lived in New York, USA and I can also see a family resemblance in him that has similar facial features of yourself. I found that there is still living family members connected to this man in America and also in Canada.
One thing that I would say while researching your family is that I have only just scratched the surface. You descend from a very large family with each generation having many brothers & sisters. I really hope that you or someone in your family do decide to take up family research as a hobby, it is really great fun and you have lots of stories to uncover and even more living cousins waiting to be met.
I’m sorry that I could not dedicate more of my time to your research, but I only focus on families living in Hamilton and even though you, your parents and your family are all Hamiltonian’s with great connections to the town, your ancestors were spread across other regions of Renfrewshire & Lanarkshire, thus making it harder with my research.
If you do decide to take this further, then please let us know what or who you find, and you never know, you may even find that “Grahams of Claverhouse” connection.
Written & Researched by Garry McCallum – Historic Hamilton.
Who can remember the old Science block at St. John Ogilvie. Share your memories and tell us your stories.
As some of you will know, I have moved back to Hamilton after being away for 18 years. I went out for a pint with my old pal Andy (Blue T-shirt) and we went to Guys Bar in Meikle Earnock.
This was the first time that I had been in Guys Bar since I was 14 years old and no I wasn’t drinking in it, I used to sell newspapers in the pubs at night and this was where my round started before making it dow it down Low Waters Road and over to Peacock Cross.
For those of you who haven’t managed to sample the fresh lager & cider, I would like to tell you that they serve a great pint. They also sell good food with the restaurant at the back of the pub.
Guys Bar is a cosy wee pub with friendly staff and I can see this becoming my new local. So if your passing, why not pop in for a meal or a drink? It’s an old Hamilton pub with a relaxed atmosphere.