War Memorials

As soon as the war was over, thoughts turned to paying lasting tribute to those who had lost their lives in battle.

The notice at the top right of the page for a public meeting to discuss a proposed war memorial was published in the Barrhead News on 15th November 1918. (Barrhead News image (c) British Library Board. All rights reserved. Shelfmark: 1918 SCT 3937 [1918]).

In addition to public memorials such as those in Mearns, Barrhead and Thornliebank, many churches marked the loss of congregation members with their own tributes.

Examples included the memorial window at the back of Neilston Parish Church, the memorial plaque in the north wall of Eaglesham Parish Church and a beautiful tablet in the then Busby West Parish Church which bore the biblical inscription:

'And ye are not your own, for ye were bought with a price'.

The war memorial in Mearns was originally sited in front of the old Mearns Primary School as shown in the second right photograph.

It was moved to its present location - the John Russell Memorial Garden adjacent to the bowling green - where there was a service of re-dedication led by the Royal British Legion (Scotland) on Sunday 15th April 1984.

The move was driven by a desire to place the memorial more centrally within the community and allow more freedom of access.

Discussions about how best to commemorate the local men who had served in the war took place in Barrhead only a couple of days after the war ended. Barrhead's public memorial was finally unveiled in Cowan Park at the end of 1922.

Provost Morrison oversaw the proceedings and Reverend Short of Barrhead Parish Church delivered a religious message. The memorial was unveiled by Major Heyes.

It records the names of nearly three hundred local men who gave their lives in the war, as well as one woman, Rebecca McFarlane, the daughter of the Gateside Laundry manager and a wartime nurse.

The Duff Memorial Hall, Busby

A prominent personal memorial to individuals lost in the war is the Duff Memorial Hall in Busby, where the community library is located.

Thornliebank War Memorial Association Programme, 14 May 1939

A partner in a Glasgow jewellery firm, William Duff was a notable member of the Busby community and was the Session Clerk at Busby West Church from 1894 to 1930.

His son William was a Lieutenant in the 7th Battalion Cameronians and was only twenty-three years old when he died at Gallipoli in 1915.

At the start of 1919, Mr and Mrs Duff announced that they had bought vacant ground at the corner of Main Street, so that a hall could be built in memory of their son.

They gifted £5000 worth of war bonds to the trustees of the Busby District Library: half was to be used for the building and equipment and the other half was to be used by the trustees as an endowment fund.

Sadly, in August of the same year, the Duff's other son, John, also a lieutenant, died in Burma of pneumonia. As a result, it was decided that the building would be known as the Lieutenants' Duff Memorial Hall.

In the photograph of the opening (second photo from bottom, right), Mr and Mrs Duff are in the middle of the front row. The man in uniform behind them is Colonel Blair of the 7th Cameronians.

Remembrance services

In the years after the war, local people continued to remember those who had fought, either through remembrance services in November, or at war memorial anniversaries.

The programme shown bottom right here marks the seventeenth anniversary of the unveiling of the memorial at Thornliebank in May 1939.

It is sobering to note that only a few months after this took place, the people of East Renfrewshire would find themselves at war once more.

More information

The Scottish War Memorials Project aims to record and photograph all types of war memorials across Scotland, including civic, personal, regimental and church memorials.  Entries are available to browse by area on the project forum site (see 'Renfrewshire' for items relating to East Renfrewshire).  See the external websites section below for the link.