We know the tale of Old Mortality, within Walter Scott’s novel of that name, where we hear the story of Robert Paterson, a Scotsman of the 18th century, who late in life decided to travel around Scotland re-engraving the tombs of 17th century Covenanter martyrs, but there is a modern day equivelant right here in Carrick.
Ex-serviceman David Hunter has compiled extensive files on the many war graves in Carrick.
David served in the British Army of the Rhine and in Malaya. After service in the army he worked in the coal mines before joining the police and finished his career in Girvan.
David began by telling how war memorials need not be the structures we are most familiar with.
“It might surprise you to know that war memorials can be the strangest objects,” he said.
“In New Zealand one war memorial is a beer bottle and here in Carrick Victory Park, which was gifted to the town by the Bargeny family after World War Two, is also classed as a war memorial.
“I have visited practically every church in Carrick. I made a record of every war memorial and everything connected to the wars.
“However in Maybole some of the war memorials had went missing but I am glad to say they have now been found. These are classified as war memorials and we have some strange war memorials. After WWI the war graves commission erected temporary wooden crosses when they buried the soldiers’ bodies and two of these were brought back to Dailly. There is one in Old Dailly which went missing and the one at the cemetery here is deteriorating badly. It was going to be taken out of the cemetery but we have put it up in the church.
“Dailly has no Commonwealth war graves, Girvan has a large one at Old Street, most of the graves are connected to the sinking of the Godisha. There are 20 in Girvan in Doune Cemetery and 30 in Maybole. There is one in Kirkoswald and 37 airmen are buried in Dunure.
“Most of the war graves here were servicemen and women who died of their wounds or in training.
“Many of the airmen were from Turnberry. There are a lot of Commonwealth war graves in this country, These were men and women who died of their wounds here and others who died during training etc. I also discovered that there were two men from Kirkmichael who won the Victoria Cross. I have asked the community council there about building a memorial and with Maybole being the capital of Carrick, could there be a cairn built there? One of these men was an officer and one of the first to receive the VC. He was a young lieutenant who led an attack on enemy positions. The other was a private in the Ashant War and he went to the Isle of Wight to receive the award from Queen Victoria herself. He was killed in action. They made a grave marker and years later an officer found the grave and exhumed the body and brought it home.
“The two main churches latterly in Maybole were old parish church and west parish church, better known as Glen parish and memorials were like Dailly in that they had scrolls. when the churches were closed down Glen Church was made into flats and outside this church is this memorial which is still intact.
“But there was another plaque which was from the church and that went astray, but has been found recently. It listed the names of those killed in World War one. In the same church was a scroll similiar to the one in Dailly which has also been found, this had a kilted soldier on the top. It would be nice to see them displayed in the town hall in Maybole. Still in the parish of Maybole in the old church at Minishant, Mrs galbraith of Auchendrain had a brass plaque inside church with three names of those who died in WW2 but that went missing in around 1985.
Carrick Academy in Maybole has two war memorials, a framed scroll of all the men from Maybole who took part in both world wars. . there’s a war memorial in Girvan and there are also names in Girvan Academy.
“The number of men on the war memorial in Dailly who have no known grave is unbelievable, and that’s only Dailly, every other village is the same. This year is the centenary of the Great War and there’s to be national events, but I would like to see events all over Carrick.
“I would like to see schools in Maybole and Dailly involved. In France and Belgium and Holland there are graves of British troops in private cemeteries and the locals adopt those and schoolchildren regularly place flowers on these graves and here we only do it once a year.”