Visiting the Scottish National War Memorial in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle arouses in me similar emotions to visiting Delville Wood on the Somme, or the graves of soldiers from West Africa in the cemetery at Dido’s Valley. Sometimes it’s the sheer scale of the burials, sometimes the poignancy of the wording on a headstone, or the distance of the cemetery from the bereaved families, that I find hard to contemplate.
I was at the Scottish National War Memorial last week intending to look for the memorial book in which I had been told a relative of James Douglas Cockburn ‘thought’ his name was recorded. It’s one of three such books placed in front of this memorial. The 4th South African Infantry Regiment, known as The South African Scottish, was raised as follows: A Company was raised from soldiers serving in the Cape Town Highlanders, B and C Companies from the first two battalions of the Transvaal Scottish Regiment, while D Company was raised with the ‘encouragement’ of the Caledonian Societies of Natal and the Orange Free State. If you visited the exhibition in the Scottish National Museum in 1914, you may have been struck by a huge image depicting a group of soldiers in the South African Scottish in their kilts, taken in June 1918.
James Douglas Cockburn served in the London Scottish in the Great War and his name is recorded on the Ham War Memorial, one of several war memorials, that I have been researching in the London area. It’s not unusual to find Londoners serving in Scottish regiments and on Ham war memorial we have, besides the London Scottish, two from the Scots Guards, and others in The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), the Seaforth Highlanders and the Highland Light Infantry. Sometimes, such as is the case with the War Memorial in Trinity United Reformed Church in Wimbledon, at least fifty percent of the surnames are clearly Scottish.
Here is the entry for which I was looking.