Forgotten no more

A memorial has been laid to honour three Glasgow children who died in Britain's worst rail disaster.

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But 96 years after their deaths the names of the Maryhill children are still not known – and the man behind the memorial has made an appeal to find out who the three youngsters were.

At 6.50am on May 22, 1915 five trains were involved in a horrific pile-up at Quintinshill, 10 miles from Lockerbie.

The ensuing inferno took fire officers almost 24 hours to control – and killed 227 people.

All but 12 of the dead were members of the Royal Scots, a volunteer battalion that was travelling from Larbert, Stirlingshire, to join a steamer waiting to take them from Liverpool to Gallipoli, Turkey, for action in the First World War.

The non-military dead included the three children, who were never identified and were buried in unmarked graves, side by side in Glasgow's Western Necropolis.

An unnamed adult is also buried in one of the graves with one of the children.

Last year, Falkirk councillor and amateur historian William Buchanan laid a wreath at Larbert station in honour of the troops who died, and paid to have a gravestone put in as a permanent memorial.

It was while doing further research on the tragedy that he discovered the three children had also died on the troop train.

It is not known why they were on board, but it is thought they may have sneaked on the train at a siding in Maryhill and still been on board when it pulled out to collect the troops at Larbert.

Mr Buchanan said: "They were killed in what was a horrific accident.

"The troops who died were taken through Edinburgh on horse-drawn carriages with thousands of people paying their respects. But the children were probably put in a cart and dumped into the unmarked grave in the Western Necropolis."

Mr Buchanan decided to pay for a memorial stone to mark the two graves the children were laid in.

It carries the words: "The Lost Children Of Maryhill – tragic victims of Quintinshill rail disaster who died May 22, 1915. They were sadly never named or claimed."

He also wrote this poem in memory of the youngsters:

God took you safely in his arms

And carried you to Heaven so long ago

But we shed our tears for you now

And promise you will never be forgotten.

A memorial and dedication service, attended by Mr Buchanan, Glasgow Lord Provost Bob Winter, Falkirk Provost Pat Reid, members of the Royal Scots Guards, and West Of Scotland British Transport Chaplain Steven Black, will be held at the cemetery for the children.

Mr Buchanan's daughter Jena, 12, is due to say a few words as a poignant link from one young generation to another and the Royal Scots will play the hymn Abide With Me.

Mr Buchanan said: "The service will be emotional for me because I got immersed in the tragedy of Quintinshill.

"For many years I have tried to keep alive the vast history of my area.

"The link for us to Quintinshill is that the Royal Scots were billeted in Larbert and left Larbert station on that fateful journey.

"Over the years I have recognised the anniversary and last year I put a plaque up at Larbert station.

"Reading through some reports just a few weeks ago I saw a clip that astounded and saddened me.

"The burned remains were found of three children who apparently got on that train and became victims of that inferno.

"After some investigation they were thought to be from Maryhill and were buried, un-named and unclaimed. There was an outpouring of grief for the troops but I wondered who remembered these poor children.

"How could three children go missing and no-one be looking for them? It is incredible and I pray this service may bring out more information about their identity.

"We don't know their names or where their parents are, but someone is bound to have missed them.

"We hope people reading the Evening Times will remember a story told by their granny or auntie about three children who went missing."

Lord Provost Bob Winter is also Labour councillor for Maryhill.

He said: "When Councillor Buchanan wrote to me about the Lost Children Of Maryhill, I immediately knew the plight of these unidentified children would strike a chord with Glaswegians.

"I hope the service brings him closer in his quest to solving the mystery of their origins. The death of children is always dreadfully difficult and it is with heavy hearts that we acknowledge the fate of these youngsters, who along with many brave soldiers, lost their lives during the First World War."

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