Council snub tribute plan for Glasgow war hero

PLANS for a tribute to a Glasgow war hero have been snubbed by the council.

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Councillor David McDonald points out John Meikle's name on the war memorial
Councillor David McDonald points out John Meikle's name on the war memorial

Officials have turned down a request from the commun-ity of Nitshill to name a new street after Sergeant John Meikle, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroism during the First World War.

Sergeant Meikle died as he single-handedly, and armed only with a revolver and a stick, took out a German machine gun.

The former Nitshill railway station clerk was given the UK's highest mili-tary honour, for "conspicuous brav-ery and initiative".

But despite his legend, there is no memorial to him in the city after it was vandalised in the 1970s and moved to Dingwall in the Highlands, where his batta-lion was stationed during the war.

Local people, backed by Greater Pollok councillor David McDonald, have since been looking at ways to honour the fallen hero.

They approached a comp-any building homes on disused land near the station with the idea of naming a new street after Sergeant Meikle. Councillor McDonald said they agreed it would be a fitting tribute.

But the plans hit the buffers after Glasgow City Council wrote to councillor McDonald stating that their guidelines "do not allow the use of names of people", dead or alive, to be used for streets.

Mr McDonald has hit out at the "stupid policy" and urged the council to overturn it.

He said he is "shocked" as there are streets in the city which take the names of people adding that a local war hero should be held in the same esteem.

Mr McDonald said: "The council says it does not name streets after people, but we all know streets in Glasgow named after Kings, Queens and famous statesmen such as Nelson Mandela.

"The same privilege should be awarded to ordinary Glas-wegians, like John Meikle, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

"I hope that the council will overturn this stupid policy and work with the local community to honour John Meikle in a fitting and lasting way."

John Meikle worked for the Glasgow, Barrhead and Kilmarnock Railway at Nitshill and lived in the area.

He enlisted in the Army on February 8, 1915, at 19, later becoming a sergeant in the 4th Battalion, The Seaforth Highlanders.

He was killed in action on July 20, 1918, near Mar-faux, France, while success-fully disarming a German machine gun using a fallen comrade's weapon.

Sergeant Meikle had also won the Military Medal for an earlier act of bravery.

War records contain a letter from the soldier's commanding officer, Captain Claude Hamilton Harris, to his parents following his death.

It reads: "Your boy has been under my command since he joined the Battalion. To tell you what I thought of him is absolutely an imposs-ibility, as I cannot praise sufficiently his beautiful character, or describe his wonderful personality.

FOR his acts of bravery and gallantry John received the army's highest award, the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery and initiative."

The directors of Glas-gow, Barrhead and Kilmarnock Railway also paid tribute to Mr Meikle as a "faithful member of the staff of the railway at Nitshill station".

Councillor David McDonald previously contacted Net-work Rail to ask about renaming the railway station after him.

Network Rail said they would be happy to help find an appropriate way to honour Sergeant Meikle's memory but renaming the station would have proved too costly.

Mr McDonald said: "With the centenary of the Great War, schools, history groups and the community in Nits-hill are working to keep John Meikle's memory alive and to create a new memorial.

"One suggestion widely supported is to name the streets in a new development next to the station after John. I was shocked by the council's response to this request."

The letter, from the head of the council's planning and building control, Forbes Barr-on, states: "This department has set conditions for staff to follow for street naming which includes not allowing the use of names of people."

It states that when a new street name is required, guidelines must be adopted.

These include avoiding existing street names or those which sound similar to other areas and "it is development and regeneration services practice not to use proper names of people (either living or dead)".

The letter ends: "I hope you find another way to provide recognition for this person."

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: "It is extremely unusual for streets in Glasgow to be named or renamed in someone's honour and is long-standing policy. Indeed, the last time we recall such a decision was made was for Nelson Mandela Place, almost 30 years ago.

"We will be recognising all of Glasgow's First World War Victoria Cross heroes later in the year when the city is at the centre of the UK's commemorations of the centenary of the war."

linzi.watson@eveningtimes.co.uk

l Don't miss our series looking at the First World War on Tuesday

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