Postcards sent to troops during WWI found hidden in train station roof

·3 min read
Postcards sent to WWI soldiers were unearthed at Stirling station during renovation works. (SWNS)
Postcards sent to WWI soldiers were unearthed at Stirling station during renovation works. (SWNS)

Postcards sent to troops during the First World War have been discovered in a train station during a refurbishment.

Workers renovating the roof at Stirling station, in Scotland, found a bundle of old postcards and documents containing notes sent to soldiers mainly stationed in the barracks at Cambusbarron, Stirling.

Many of the official Caledonian Railway branded postcards, found earlier this month, were dated April 1916 and requested troops collect kit bags and parcels from the station.

During World War One, a number of regiments were stationed in barracks around Cambusbarron, which is believed to have consisted of training camps including areas for live shooting practice.

Many of the official Caledonian Railway branded postcards were dated April 1916. (SWNS)
Many of the official Caledonian Railway branded postcards were dated April 1916. (SWNS)

To track down what happened to the soldiers addressed by the postcards, Network Rail contacted the regimental museums for the Gordon Highlanders, the Cameron Highlanders and the Black Watch.

They wanted to find out where they had been stationed during the war and if they returned home.

The information gained from the Cameron Highlanders Museum revealed the 8th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders left for France in July 1915, landed at Boulogne and took over a sector in the line at Loos on 6 August.

The 8th Seaforth’s first major battle was in Loos on 25 September, which resulted in the battalion tragically losing 718 of the 776 it had started the day with.

A soldier Network Rail was able to track was Captain and Quartermaster Arthur James MacDonald of the 8th Battalion of the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders, who was wounded on 28 October, 1918, possibly at the Battle of Cambrai.

Because this came so close to Armistice, it is thought he likely survived the war and made it home.

Helen Agnew, Network Rail project manager for the Stirling Station roof works said: “It’s been incredible to see these postcards, many of which are more than one hundred years old and to find out about some of the items that were sent on the railway.

"Finding these items in the roof of the station has already offered a fantastic insight into the past but to be able to trace any family members of those who served would be incredible.”

The postcards requested troops collect kit bags and parcels from the station. (SWNS)
The postcards requested troops collect kit bags and parcels from the station. (SWNS)

Ernie Pope, coordinator for The Highlander’s Museum who was instrumental in the research into Captain MacDonald added: “I believe the importance of remembrance is that everyone of us, in this country, will have a distant relative who either, took part in the Great War, or was impacted by it.

"We should never forget the suffering, loss and sacrifice made by so many during one of the darkest periods of world history.

“Let us all hope and pray we never see it’s like again.”

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Network Rail is appealing for anyone with information on Captain and Quartermaster MacDonald or the following men to come forward: 2nd Lt. J M or H Campbell of the 11th Gordon Highlanders; Private W Reddiford of B Company of the 11th Gordon Highlanders; Private George Rankine of the 6th Black Watch; Officer Commanding A Company, 11th Gordon Highlanders.

The postcards and papers are in a fragile condition and will be properly preserved before being put on display in the future.

Watch: British First World War soldier laid to rest in Belgium

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