Until now these lads have been forgotten in the mists of time. They do not appear on a war memorial yet they died for their country, so how can this be?
The answer comes in different forms, in the case of Pte George Ross he was posted missing at the Battle of Loos in 1915 and never mentioned other than two short lines in the paper. By the time the names were added to the memorial his family were dead or no longer in the area.
A generation on, much the same fate befell Sapper James Holgate, drowned at sea when his transport ship was torpedoed of the coast of Gibratar 1943. His parents were dead and his family out with the village had a struggle to prove his connection to Newtongrange. After some research we were able to prove he was from Newtongrange and that his brother in the RAF had been a POW in Germany.
Others such as Pte George Noble from the Parachute regiment were the victims of rigid interpretation of ridiculous ‘rules’ drawn up. George was conscripted in 1945 whilst he was attending the 21st Midlothian Scouts summer camp. He took to the Army well and joined the Parachute Regiment. WW2 ended but he was still in service, following a tour of Palestine, which was no picnic, he returned to the UK for training. On 5th May 1947 George stepped out of a Halifax bomber over Wiltshire, his parachute did not open and he was killed when he hit the ground. He was laid to rest with full military honours in Newbattle Cemetery.
Despite this he does not appear on the memorial, as he is ‘not a victim of war’.
Well for the record the Commonwealth War Graves Commission list him as a WW2 casualty so he bloody well is.
Two other lads, not accepted as they had died by accident, one was killed when his aircraft ditched in the sea in training, the other died whilst working on his ship. What the hell does it matter how they died? The reason they died is they were serving their country, this is what happens when ‘jobsworths’ rule the world.
However a new dawn has risen in Newtongrange, the Community Council now agree that these lads should appear on the war memorial. The only question being where, and how can we raise the money.
I was once asked, in all seriousness, by a local ‘worthy’ after having campaigned successfully to have Gunner Vasily Nikitenko RGA added to the memorial, I will spare him his blushes by not namimg him.
“When the hell are you going to stop finding these names, it’s a bit of a nuisance trying to fit them in, we can’t just let anybody in ye ken. ”
For the record I retire soon so I will have more time on my hands so –
When the last man is Remembered, or the big man upstairs decides my time is up.