Was Arthur Ramage Carluke’s greatest hero?

Arthur Ramage
Arthur Ramage

When folk describe Carluke as the “bravest town in Britain”, it is usually based on the evidence of the three VCs awarded to local men.

Their valour will never be doubted but their fame has led to the man who perhaps had a better claim to being the most decorated Carluke hero of the First World War being relatively forgotten today.

His name was Arthur Ramage and a humble ceremony at the town centre war memorial on Tuesday, August 1, will mark, to the day, the 100th anniversary of him falling in action at that nightmare battle of Passchendaele.

Like so many young men who laid down their lives for their country in that conflict, Arthur owed little to the nation he died for; he had a particularly hard childhood followed by going down the mines at an early age.

However, he had some inbred instinct to serve and joined the Territorial Army before the outbreak of war and so was one of the first to be sent abroad to the Front with the Highland Light Infantry.

Given his war record before his death at the age of 25, its a miracle that Arthur lived long enough to fight and die on August 1, 1917.

The centenary commemoration of his life – and death – is being organised by the Carluke Parish Historical Society whose spokeswoman recalled: “An unassuming and modest young man, Arthur was recognised not once or even twice for his bravery but five times!

“He received the Distinguished Conduct Medal, Military Medal and Bar and Croix de Guerre as well as being mentioned in dispatches.

“The first of these medals – the Military Medal – was earned by Arthur on September 25, 1915, during the Battle of Loos in which 17 young Carluke men paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“On that dreadful day, he was attached to a machine gun section and, despite the fact that all the other men in his section became casualties, he continued to work his gun until he was himself wounded.

“After a time, he recovered consciousness but instead of thinking of himself he crawled out into the open and helped many who were more seriously wounded than himself, bringing his officer and several comrades back to the safety of the trenches.

“A bar was added to Arthur’s Military Medal in October 1916. This was in recognition of having saved an officer’s life while under a hail of enemy fire. The Distinguished Conduct Medal followed in the first months of 1917. On this occasion, Arthur was being recognised for voluntarily carrying out a successful reconnaissance mission on a farm held in some strength by the Germans.

“It was also for this action that the French Government awarded him the Croix de Guerre. Only two weeks after the ‘London Gazette’ published Arthur’s DCM citation, he was shot by a sniper while returning to the trenches after a successful engagement with the Germans.”

A full account of Arthur’s life and deeds will appear in Carluke Parish Historical Society’s second book on Carluke and the Great War, 1917-1919. It is hoped the book will be published in the late autumn.

If you have any photographs or information relating to this young man and are willing to share them contact CPHS via the Gazette on 01555 664256..

The society is planning to commemorate Arthur Ramage and his passing by holding a short wreath-laying ceremony at the War Memorial in Market Place at 11am on Tuesday, August 1.

All are invited to join in paying homage to a truly gallant Carlukian who won most of his medals for saving lives rather than taking them.

His was a short but truly admirable life.