Thursday, 10 July 2014

Royal Recognition of a Denny Veteran

Sergeant William Scobie

Through the efforts of a Denny lady, a letter has been received from the Private Secretary
of Queen Alexandra enclosing a gift of £5 for Sergeant William Scobie, Springfield, Denny.
The communication referred to is as follows:

Sandringham, 1st September

Dear Madam, Many thanks for your letter and enclosure of 25th instant, which, together
with previous correspondence, I have submitted to Queen Alexandra, who desires me to
send you the enclosed donation of five pounds for Sergeant Scobie, and to say that Her
Majesty is very glad to assist this deserving old soldier, who has done such good service
to his country. Queen Alexandra is sorry to learn that this old veteran is now such
an invalid and Her Majesty much regrets that his long and strenuous service
does not entitle him to a pension to provide for him in his declining years.
I am, dear madam, yours faithfully,
H. Streatfield, Private Secretary to Queen Alexandra.

Sergeant Scobie fought throught the Afghan and Egyptian campaigns. In 1880 he took
part in the long march from Cabul to Kandahar under Lord Roberts, a march of 320 miles –
one of the most brilliant and famous in military history, at the close of which a brave
company of men routed the Afghans under Ayoob Khan, with terrific slaughter, and
captured the whole of his guns. In 1882 Sergeant Scobie took part in the battle of
Tel-el-Kebir. For his services in these wars he possesses four medals, one of which was
presented by the Khedive of Egypt. For 15 years, Mr. Scobie served in the Volunteer force,
retiring with the rank of sergeant. In this capacity he attended the funeral of Queen Victoria.
When the late Lord Roberts came to Falkirk to unveil the South African memorial, Sergeant
Scobie was one of the few remaining veterans present to greet their old leader.
For over fifty years he has been one of Denny’s most respected citizens, during twenty-nine
of which he rendered good and faithful service in the gas works. Sergeant Scobie is the Most
Worshipful Grand Master of the Western Grand Lodge of Free Gardeners of Scotland, as well
as a life member of the Masonic Lodge. For over a year now this gallant old soldier has been
confined to a sick-bed as a result of the strenuous army life in his earlier years.
Her Majesty’s gracious letter has cheered him up exceedingly. We understand that several
friends in the district are endeavouring to secure a small pension for him to brighten and
comfort him in his old age.

1st Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, 58 Bde., No. 685.
Second Afghan War 1878 – 1880 (Afghanistan)

The Medal Roll for the above campaign states that William Scobie was entitled to ‘Clasps’
and ‘Bronze Star Medal’ for actions in service company at Charasiab, Kabul and Khandahar.
The record also states that he would be proceeding to England this ‘Trooping Season’
for transfer to the 1st Class Army Reserve.

1891 Census, Living at East Borland, Denny, Stirlingshire
WILLIAM SCOBIE, age 32, Gas Stoker, born Airdrie
Catherine Scobie, wife, age 29, born Denny
John Scobie, son, age 4, born Denny
Marion Scobie, daughter, age 1 month, born  Denny

1901 Census, Living at Old Mill Gas Works Cottage, Logie, Stirlingshire
WILLIAM SCOBIE, age 48, Gas Stoker, born Airdrie
Kate Scobie, wife, age 39, born Denny
John Scobie, son, age 14, Grocer’s Apprentice, born Denny
Ellen Scobie, daughter, age 5, born Denny
Annie Scobie, daughter, age (under) 4 months, born Bridge of Allan

1911 Census, Living at 76 Herbertshire Street, (Hawthorn Cottage) Denny, Stirlingshire
WILLIAM SCOBIE, age 52, Gas Stoker, born Airdrie
Catherine Scobie, wife, age 49, born Denny
Helen Scobie, daughter, age 15, born Denny
Annie Scobie, daughter, Scholar, age 10, born Bridge of Allan
James Scobie, son, Scholar, age 8, born Bridge of Allan
Mary Scobie, daughter, Scholar, age 7, born Denny

The 1911 Census lists that William & Catherine has been married for 26 years,
had a total of 10 children, but only 4 survived.

Why did they not mention their eldest son John?

Denny Cemetery

In loving remembrance of my dear father
Who died at Hawthorn Cottage 31st May 1921
Also my dear mother
Who died at the above address 31st July 1921

Obituary, Falkirk Herald, 4th June 1921, ‘The Late Sergeant Scobie’

On Tuesday a highly interesting personality passed away after a long lingering
illness in William Scobie, who spent the greater part of his manhood in serving his King
and country. In 1876, when 17 years of age, he enlisted at Stirling in the old 72nd,
and was discharged in 1888 with the rank of Sergeant. During his lengthened service,
among the decorations he received were:
Afghanistan medal and three bars - KandaharKabul and Charasia;
Egyptian medal, one bar, Telelkebir;   Star – Kabul and Kandahar;
and Egyptian Star.

On his retiring from the regular Army, he joined the Volunteers, and served in them
15 years, and in 1894 was the champion shot of the battalion. When in the Volunteers
he was one of those who represented the battalion at the funeral of Queen Victoria. Some
time ago, the service in the Army of Sergeant Scobie and the fact that he was an invalid
came under the notice of Queen Alexandra, who sent a donation of £5, and the accompanying
letter said that “Her Majesty is very glad to assist this deserving old soldier, who has done such
good service to his country, and regretted that his long and strenuous service does not entitle
him to a pension to provide for him in his declining years.”

Sergeant Scobie was a Past Master of the Order of Free Gardeners, and was presented with
jewels on his retirial from so exalted position. In his later years, when able for work, he was
an employee of the Town Council. Sergeant Scobie was 62 years of age, a quiet-living,
lovable man, and not like one who had undergone the rugged wear and hardening of so
many campaigns. He was most reticent of his experiences and not given to flaunt his
exploits before the public. The funeral, which took place on Thursday, was carried
through with all the rites observed by the Free Gardeners on the burial of a departed
brother. There was a large gathering, including deputations from Dennyloanhead and
Kilsyth. Rev. J. Davidson, Chaplain of the Lodge, was the officiating clergyman, and at the
opening of the Lodge,Bro. J. Henderson, R.W.M., presided,
Bro. J. Baldwin was Marshall.

John (M.) Scobie, son of William & Catherine Scobie

John Scobie was born at East Borland, Denny 16th May 1887
Father: William Scobie, Labourer, mother Catherine Scobie nee McDougall
(Details transcribed from Birth Certificate)

William & Catherine’s Date of Marriage is listed as 5th April 1885 at Denny which
matches the details given on the 1911 Census.

John was killed in action in WW1

Commonwealth War Graves Commission/Scottish National War Memorial:
Royal Highlanders (Black Watch), 1st/7th Bn.
Date of Death: 17th March 1917
Additional information: Son of William and Catherine Scobie, Denny.
Husband of Margaret Scobie, Stoneywood, Denny. Born Denny
Buried at Ecoivres Military Cemetery, Mont-St. Eloi

Commemorated: Denny Cemetery Memorial, Denny Town Memorial,
Denny West Church Memorial (housed in Westpark Church),
Denny Masonic Lodge (St. Andrew No, 176,  Denny & Loanhead)

Denny & Dunipace Roll of Honour Details: John, McD. Scobie, Stoneywood,
Private, 1/7th Black Watch, No. 6650.  Joined June 1916.  Killed in action.
Leaves a widow.

Medal Index Card: John M. Scobie, Private, Royal Highlanders
Nos: 6650 & 292805

Soldiers Died in the Great War: John Scobie, Private, No. 292805
Black Watch (Royal Highlanders), 7th (Fife) Bn. (Territorial)
Born Denny, Enlisted Denny, Died of wounds 17th March 1917

Falkirk Herald, 24th March 1917, ‘Killed by a Shell’

Mrs. John Scobie, 55 Herbertshire Street, received a letter on Friday morning from an
officer in her husband’s regiment to the effect that her husband, Private John Scobie,
Black Watch, had been killed on 17th inst., through a hostile shell striking the billet in
which he was housed. In the letter the officer says: “ It is my painful duty to confirm the 
sad news you must now have received regarding the death of your husband.
On 17th March, 1917, a hostile shell struck the billet where your husband was housed.
He received injuries, to which he succumbed shortly after. Your husband was a most
efficient soldier. He specialised as a Lewis gunner and was one of the keenest members
of his team. He was thoroughly reliable, fearless and loyal. I shall miss him very much.
He was popular with all ranks, and officers, n.c.o’s and men join me in sending you deepest
sympathy in your sore bereavement. Your husband is buried in a small cemetery near by,
and a suitable cross will mark his grave. I feel sure it will be some consolation to you in the
hour of your great sorrow to know that your husband played a manly part in the great struggle,
and made the supreme sacrifice in support of the best of causes.”

 John is listed on Denny’s memorials as John McD. Scobie
‘McD’ possibly being McDougall -  his mother’s maiden name.

As there is no names given for his wife, a marriage was sought which unfortunately,
when found, has brought with it more questions than answers!

The following details are transcribed from the Marriage Certificate:
At the Free Church Manse, Denny, on 8th August 1913
John McD. Scobie, Grocer age 26 of Hawthorn Cottage, Denny,
Son of Maggie McAulley, Domestic Servant (deceased)*
Margaret Forsyth, Typist, age 20 of Union Terrace, Duke Street, Denny
Daughter of Alexander Forsyth, Coal Miner and Margaret Forsyth nee Anderson

*Why would he list Maggie McAulley as his mother?

By co-incidence, there was a male child born in 1887 to a Maggie McAlley!

But clearly - this child was named Joseph!


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