Battle Of Loos 24th Sep – 18th Oct 1915
Sometimes life can be hectic, too busy to pay attention to what is around us. Other times there are signs to make sure we don’t miss out…
Towards the end of last month we had to have some electrical work carried out in the sanctuary. As our electrician lifted floorboards to work under the pews he began to notice red coloured flashes from the corner of his eye. Turning round, he realised it was colouring the area of the church around where he was working and was coming from the window. The autumn sun was hitting the magnificent stained glass in just the right way. Being drawn to admire the artwork more closely he noticed this particular window commemorates Captain William McLeod McMillan of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, killed at the Battle of Loos exactly 100 years ago. Touched by this, especially the significance of the date, he mentioned it to Margaret Auld who went out to the church gardens to cut some flowers to place by the window, and opened the remembrance book at the page with William’s name inscribed.
The Battle of Loos was the largest British battle that took place in 1915 on the Western Front during World War I, lasting from late-September to mid-October 1915. Captain McMillan was in the 11th Battalion of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and died at the age of 39. He was the eldest son of Robert McMillan, shipbuilder in Dumbarton and at the time of his death was chairman and managing director of the family firm, Archibald McMillan and Son, Ltd. In 1904 Captain McMillan had married Catherine Young Denny, daughter of James Denny, shipbuilder, a director of the other major shipbuilding family in Dumbarton, William Denny and Brothers, Ltd. Captain McMillan was survived by his widow and two sons.
for more about the battle itself, see www.1914-1918.net/bat13.htm
Dorothy Wordsworth, sister of the more famous William (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Wordsworth) visited Dumbarton in 1803 (see her account here: http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/…/wordsworth-…/09.html) and again in 1822. On a tour of our churchyard she commented on the grave of William McAlla, a young soldier who died falling off the the top of the eastern part of Dumbarton Rock, then a garrison. The inscription on the gravestone contains a verse:
“In memory of William McAlla, Light Company, Ayrshire Militia, who was cut off in the flower of his youth by a fall from the East Rock of Dumbarton Castle, 26th June 1812, in the 24th year of his age.
No more the shrill reveille shall convey
Unto his breathless corpse the dawn of day,
No evening drum will beat
To him the tidings of the sun’s retreat;
No more he’ll breathe the sweet salubrious gale,
Nor listen more to love’s unwearied tale,
Nor tune the pipe to nature’s charming choir,
Nor yield again to youth’s ecstatic fire.
This stone was erected in his memory by his brother officers.”
Dorothy was not impressed with the quality of this verse, commenting that she considered it rather poor.
Captain James Lang, a renowned steamship skipper who gave his name to the pub The Captain James Lang in the High Street, is buried in the churchyard at Riverside. The gravestone is a little worn now, but a modern plaque next to it preserves the inscription. The full text on the original stone reads:
“Agnes Lang, in memory of her husband, Captain James Lang, who died 15th June 1850, aged 45 years; also their daughter Marion Houston, who died 22nd January 1842 aged 2 years and 3 months.”
Dumbarton Riverside Facebook Photo of the grave
The Napier family vault, at the back of Riverside’s churchyard, contains the graves of members of the famous engineering family, including Robert Napier
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