'I'm avoiding the white wine and snipers - and could you send me a copy of the Evening Times?'

AS he recovered from a wound sustained in battle Corporal David McFarlane had only one thing on his mind - getting a copy of the Evening Times.

Loading Comments
Soldiers of The 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland in Loos British Cemetery in Loos-en-Gohelle, where more than 59,000 British troops were lost in the Battle of Loos
Soldiers of The 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland in Loos British Cemetery in Loos-en-Gohelle, where more than 59,000 British troops were lost in the Battle of Loos

McFarlane had signed up as a private in the 7th (Service) Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders in 1915.

He wrote dozens of letters and postcards from the Front in France to his mother and sisters in Glasgow.

The young man told how he was not impressed with the white wine, was learning how to avoid snipers, how to make himself "tolerably comfortable" in the mud and rain and that he had found a kind landlady to wash his clothes.

McFarlane sustained a flesh wound in his right arm but said he was pleased his watch was still working and that he regretted losing his safety razor.

But there was something else he missed and he wrote asking for a football edition of the Evening Times to be posted out to him rather than the London paper his sister sent.

McFarlane survived the war determined to be a doctor, graduated from Glasgow University in 1924, married a masseuse and settled down in a medical practice.

The Great War was a time of incredible, bravery, determination and tragedy.

And the stories of Glasgow University graduates sum up the courage it took to face the unimaginable horrors of conflict.

Hugh Mann, the elder son of Rev John Mann of Shettleston, graduated in 1911 set for a career in the ministry.

At the start of war, he enlisted in the Camerons and was involved in the Battle of Loos, the largest British offensive on the Western Front in 1915 and which left 59,000 British soldiers dead.

On September that year he wrote to his wife: "Our battalion had a terrible smashing up - 75% casualties. Shall I tell you the story?

"It's a good one and I expect you'll see it in the paper some day - the charge of the 44th Brigade.

"We formed up in our trenches the day before while a most terrific bombardment went on.

"At day-break, we went over the parapet and at once men dropped.

"We got over the German line but were held up for 10 minutes at the barbed wire in front of Loos.

"We got it cut and went thro' the town. What scenes."

Mann continued: "We were under heavy machine gun fire from the houses and each house had to be bombed. Then as we pushed back, they came tumbling out with their hands up shouting 'camarade, friend'.

"We got to the top and away beyond but our left flank had not come up and so we had to fall back.

"The fire here was terrific and our own shrapnel was giving us fits.

"We took up position on the near crest of the hill and entrenched, or tried to, there and at this spot we hung on till we were relieved at 11 that night.

"I never knew before what absolute physical exhaustion was. To add to our joy, the rain was in torrents.

"Altogether, hell can hold no hotter corner.

"For hours, we held that damned line against constant counter attack and ceaseless enfilade fire and always one was waiting one's turn to be hit. It was horrible.

"I have lost nearly all my friends. I am the only sergeant left in D Company and the company numbers only 54 but the Germans won't forget the 44th."

A month later Mann, who was promoted to captain, was invalided home and became engaged in recruiting work but returned to France in 1917.

In October he was severely wounded and for a month "lingered in much suffering". He died on November 12.

Despite the horrors of war, some young men went out of their way to enlist.

Alexander Maclean was educated at Hillhead High School and joined Glasgow University officer training corps.

He found a job with a shipping company and was posted to an important post with the firm in Chile.

When the war began Maclean was determined to enlist but found more than a few obstacles in his path.

Enemy warships were cruising in Chilean waters making it impossible to book a passage home.

Along with two companions, he attempted to get a train across the continent to Santiago but that route was closed because of heavy snow.

Undeterred, the three young men made the perilous journey over the Andes on mule back.

They eventually made it back to the UK and Maclean was posted to Egypt and Gallipoli, served with the Black Watch in Salonica in Greece and in 1916 transferred to the RAF.

On April 12, 1918 Captain Maclean was sent on a low level reconnaissance mission over the battle front from which he never returned.



Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.


Have you got a story?

Contact the news desk on 0141 302 6520 or email news@eveningtimes.co.uk
A weekly round up of social highlights

A weekly round up of social highlights

Cat's Eyes on Glasgow

Chilling in Glasgow's first Ice Bar and getting Mhor than I bargained for




Michelle McManus

Michelle McManus

Columnist Michelle McManus is Sussed in the City, and loves to chat about anything and everything.

Games news:

Putting the world to rights

Gail's Gab

My thoughts after Police Scotland are ordered to apologise over IRA interrogation techniques slur.

Janice Bell

Janice Bell

You couldn’t make up half the stuff that happens to PA Janice Bell- some of the jams she gets herself into are worth a story or two.