Homecoming of Willie Angus fit for a hero

Homecoming...for Willie Angus
Homecoming...for Willie Angus

LANCE CORPORAL William Angus was born at Polkemmet Rows, Armadale, in 1888. Initially a miner, he became a professional footballer, making one appearance for Celtic.

However he left Celtic to become captain of Wishaw Thistle - a club that he was to have connections with for the rest of his life.

At this time in his life he was living in Carluke.

A member of the Territorial Battalion of the Highland Lift infantry he was mobilised in 1914.

The unit that he was in was transferred to the 8th Royal Scots in 1915.

It was in this unit that he won his Victoria Cross as a Lance Corporal.

He won his V.C. in the fighting around Givenchy-la-Bassee in the Pas de Calais about 19 miles from Lille in Belgium on June 12, 1915.

He took part in an assault on German lines which was led by Lieutenant James Martin.

Unfortunately as the trenches were mined a retreat was ordered.

It was at this time that Lieutenant James Martin was wounded. The Lieutenant was only 15 yards from the German trenches but Lance Corporal Angus volunteered to rescue him.

The mission was exceptionally dangerous but Lance Corporal Angus reached Lieutenant Martin. Lieutenant Martin lay underneath an embankment where German machine gunners were positioned.

He was in a desperate position – a request for water from the Germans was met by a bomb being thrown at him.

Taking the rope that had been put around him Lance Corporal Angus attached it to Lieutenant Martin then gave him a sip of brandy.

As both men began their hazardous journey back to the British trenches 70 yards away, the Germans opened up with everything they had.

During the trip back to the British trenches Lance Corporal Angus received forty wounds, including losing sight in one eye as well as injuries to his legs, arms, head and shoulders.

Despite these injuries he got Lieutenant Martin, a fellow citizen of Carluke, back to the British trenches.

His commanding office Lt Colonel Gemmill recommended him for a V.C.

His selfless act was described as one of the most courageous ever undertaken in World War One.

On his return to Britain he was given the Victoria Cross by King George V in Buckingham Palace on August 30 1915.

Shortly afterwards he returned to Carluke. Arriving by train he was taken by Lord Newlands, chairman of the Lanarkshire Territorial Force and Lieutenant Martin (the man he rescued) to a reception at Carluke Cross.

The whole town turned out to greet one of Britain’s greatest heroes of World War One.

Others from Carluke however were to follow in Lance Corporal Angus’ footsteps and get a V.C.

These were Sergeant Thomas Caldwell in 1918 and Lieutenant Donald Cameron in World War Two.

Maybe these men were inspired by Lance Corporal Angus’ actions on June 12, 1915.

Finally, it is an amazing to record that all the Carluke V.Cs were photographed together after World Ward II and despite his injuries William Angus lived until 1959.