World War One heroes not given hero’s welcome on return to Lanark

Comrade certificate...for Great War veteran
Comrade certificate...for Great War veteran

ALTHOUGH – especially this year – we make much of honouring our dead of World War One, were their comrades who survived the conflict given a hero’s welcome when they returned to Lanark?

A long-lost journal passed to the Gazette suggests that they were NOT.

And, even worse, it tells how even the widows and orphans of our ‘glorious dead’ had to practically beg their ‘grateful nation’ for enough support to survive.

A unique insight into exactly how Lanark coped with the aftermath of the Great War is given by the official Minute Book of the town’s Royal British Legion Branch, the entries starting just seven months after the war’s end.

It comes to the Gazette via John Neil, whose grandfather Thomas joined the Lanark Legion shortly after its formation on the night of Friday, June 6, 1919 in the YMCA in the Westport.

Somehow, the book eventually found its way into his keeping and, although he died some years ago, the family only recently came across the precious volume and other artefacts he’d kept from the time, including Thomas’s own membership card.

Just four ex-officers and 12 former NCOs and privates attended that first meeting but by the end of the year the Legion – then still called The Comrades of the Great War – numbered more than 200.