Carluke cop’s 102 year-old cold case

Lt Morton added to national war memorial ap. 2019
Lt Morton added to national war memorial ap. 2019

When former Carluke policeman Patrick Anderson retired 22 years ago, little did he know he’d still be investigating ‘missing persons’ cases today.

And the ‘missing’ he is tracking down are the World War One heroes whose names failed to make it onto war memorials alongside their comrades.

Taking up research into this field in retirement, he has so far had the names of more than 20 heroes belatedly honoured and the latest is a man from Carluke, the town Patrick served in between 1970 and 1976.

While his names DOES appear on the Carluke memorials at Market Square, the Old Cemetery and in St Johns Church, Lt.James MacLaren Morton’s death in action on the Western Front on May 3, 1917 was missing from the central Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle. Until former Sergeant Anderson took up the case, that is.

Now 73 years old, he told the Gazette: “Last year I was looking at a website of staff listed on the Royal Bank of Canada roll of honour for the Great War and saw that James MacLaren Morton was listed, having joined the bank in 1911 after serving the Bank of Scotland for five years before emigrating. He was born in Carluke on June 4, 1891 in Chapel Street.”

Patrick discovered the family later moved to John Street, Carluke. When war broke out, James joined the Canadian army and after surviving many fierce actions - including the iconic Battle of Vimy Ridge - he eventually fell leading his men of the 31st Canadians at Fremoy. He was only 26 years old and has rested in a military cemetery in France ever since.

Patrick has a theory that the omission of his name from the National Memorial in Edinburgh could have been down to him being born a Scot but dying in a Canadian army unit rather than a British Army one. Now the National Memorial trustees have agreed to put his name, 102 years after his death, on a roll of honour headed with the words “We Shall Remember Them”. While men like Patrick Anderson are still about, they certainly will.