Cowdenbeath, Kelty, and the surrounding areas did more than their fair share of supplying men to meet Kitchener’s demand, and if like proportion had been drawn from the whole of Britain; Britain’s army at that time would have been of several millions. Over 1300 men enrolled in the first 3 weeks of World War One, men drawn from all classes, shop keepers, shop assistants, Druggists, Colliery officials, Dentists, Engineers, Tailors and tradesmen of all sorts were represented, although the miners were the largest majority.
Dundee Evening Telegraph 3rd November 1915
Few counties in Scotland can show a better recruiting record than the kingdom of Fife. The miners of Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly, Kelty, and Lochore have made a magnificent response. This has been described as an engineer’s war, but it is no less a miners war. The man who knows a shovel and can excavate into the bowels of the earth is one of the most indispensable members of the greatest voluntary system the world has ever seen. The Fife miner has already shown his worth in the trenches, and more than one D.C.M. has come to the district. Never in any war before has the collier been of such value as in the bombing and mining enterprises in the trenches of France and Gallipoli. The stream of recruits in Fifeshire has not dried up, and again this week the spirit of patriotism is again being manifested. The mining recruit is rolling up, and as a result of Lord Derby’s scheme a thousand extra men of the mining type should be easily forthcoming.
The men of Kelty and their gallantry were second to none. Kelty men won at least 12 D.C.M’s (Distinguished Conduct Medal) which was second only to the Victoria Cross for N.C.O’s and enlisted men. At least 20 Military Medals, 2 Croix de Guerre medals.
Fife Free Press 13th November 1915 “How Fife Black Watch man gained the D.C.M”
Private William Watters 2nd Black Watch has returned to Kelty for a short furlough, after being discharged from a military hospital in Sheerness. He was wounded and gassed in the big advance on the 26th September. Private Watters was the first Fife man to gain the Distinguished Conduct Medal during the present war, but owing to his reticent manner he reframed from giving any of his friends any information regarding his accomplishments in the trenches. It was during a desperate attack by the Germans on the 23rd November 1914, that Watters along with four of his company were awarded the D.C.M. The five men belonging to the 2nd Black Watch held a trench against great odds till reinforcements arrived. One of the five was killed while another named Stewart, who belonged to Dundee, lost his sight. Watters related to how he saved the latter’s life while a big Prussian was making straight for Stewart with the bayonet. He (Watters) put up his hand to stop the blow, and received the bayonet right through his hand. Private Watters enlisted in the 2nd Black Watch 6 years ago, and was 4 years in India before proceeding to France in October last year. His brother Robert was a reservist, and joined the 1st Black Watch, was killed in October last year, while Sapper John Watters is in France at the present time. All three are the sons of a widowed mother.
Dunfermline Journal 11th September 1915, “D.C.M for Kelty Cameron”
In the line of D.C.M. awards appears the name of Sapper Peter McCallum, 170th Company Royal Engineers. At the outbreak of war McCallum who resides at Kelty, enlisted in the Cameron Highlanders but was not long in being transferred because of his knowledge of mining to the Royal Engineers. Since performing the act of gallantry he has had some exciting experiences, in one in which he received as many as thirty-two wounds. Describing the circumstances in a letter home he said: – “In order not to hinder those who were in the trenches, I tore off to a dressing station after being shot by a German machine gun. I ran regardless of a shower of bullets coming thick as a rainstorm right into the dressing station. I had eight holes in my trousers and nine in my flying braces during that fifty yard sprint, so you see I ran a very good race. I wrenched off my jacket first thing and had a look to see whatever had happened to me. The blood was spurting both back and front and I knew there was no time to be lost, I was lucky to get the doctor at once. He was not long in bandaging me up and in fifteen minutes from the time I was struck I was being driven in an ambulance motor to Bethune.
They told me that I had saved my life with that sprint when interviewed with regard to the matter. Peter seemed a bit surprised and declared that he along with others that he and others had done the same feat on many other occasions. When asked what he really had done to merit such a distinction he stated that they blew the Germans to Jericho. Peter is an old soldier having served six years in the 1st Cameron Highlanders. When war broke out he re-enlisted on the 7th August with his old regiment but latterly was transferred to the Royal Engineers owing to his mining experience. On the 12th of March he was promoted to the rank of Corporal for gallant service at Neau-Chantelle. Peter is at present in Kelty recovering from his wounds and hopes to rejoin the firing line shortly. (Peter McCallum died of wounds on the 28th July 1916 near Becourt, France)
Dunfermline Journal 29th January 1916 “D.C.M. for Kelty man”
The announcement that Private Patrick Tague, 2nd Battalion Royal Scots Guards, has been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for conspicuous bravery in France has been received with much satisfaction in Kelty, where his wife resides. Private Tague joined the 2nd Scots Guards shortly after the outbreak of hostilities, and went to France in February 1915. During the month of September last year he came home for a short furlough and was married to the daughter of Mr Patrick Gordon, Main Street, Kelty. He returned to the front just before the big advance on the 25th September, which he came through safely, and was afterwards wounded on the 17th October. The official account of the bravery act is as follows “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty near “Big Willie” trench on October 17th 1915. He led a bombing attack, and continued throwing bombs after he was wounded. By his personal bravery and example he kept the bombers together and would not leave his post until ordered by an officer” (Private Patrick Tague died due to chest wounds, on the 13th February 1916 in a London hospital and is buried in Linlithgow Cemetery)
Dunfermline Journal 5th February 1916 “Another Kelty D.C.M.”
Mr William Deans, 2 Grievesland Terrace, Kelty, has received a letter from his son Sergeant Peter Deans, stating that he has won the Distinguished Conduct Medal, he writes “I suppose you will have seen in the papers that I have been awarded the D.C.M. also the other sergeant on the gun section. We got it for a bit of work which we did in the big attack, so I can tell you that they are all proud of their machine gun in the battalion” Sergeant Peter Deans who is well known in Kelty joined the 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders three years ago, his regiment being one of the first to land in France in August 1914. Afterwards he was transferred to the Machine Gun Section. Prior to enlisting he was a piper in the Kelty and Blairadam band and for some time acted as secretary for that body. He is 22 years on age, and worked as a miner before joining the army, Sgt Deans is the fourth Kelty man to receive the D.C.M.
Dunfermline Journal 9th February 1918 “Bar to D.C.M”
16613, Sgt P Deans M.G.C. (Formerly 1153 A and S.H. Kelty) for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Though wounded he kept his gun in action. It was largely due to this N.C.O’s fine example that the company rendered efficient and complete service under the most difficult circumstances after both losing the commanding officer and half the gun personnel at which period the n.c.o. took over command of the complete action, and handled it in an irreproachable manner.
Dunfermline Journal 2nd September 1916 “5th Kelty D.C.M”
Private Andrew Hunter, Cameron Highlanders, was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in March 1915, “for continued good work in leading a successful night raid on the German trenches” Private Hunter who came to Kelty 11 years ago lived with Mr Willian Andrew, Adams Terrace. He joined the army on the outbreak of war and came with his regiment from India to France. After taking part in much of the heavy fighting he was wounded last September, and at the beginning of the present month was discharged from the army being unfit for further duty. Returning to Kelty he sought for the people he previously stayed with, but learned that he had left the district. Hunter never mentioned the matter regarding the D.C.M. to anyone, but for an accident his possession of the honour might never have been known. When interviewed he felt no desire to speak of the incident but when pressed he ultimately produced the coveted honour and was persuaded upon to have his photo taken. He is 27 years of age, and has commenced work in the job where he worked prior to joining the army. He is presently residing at Grievesland Terrace, Kelty.
Dunfermline Journal 29th June 1918 “Distinguished Conduct Medals”
Among the recipients of the Distinguished Conduct Medal this week from the King at Buckingham Palace were two Fife heroes, 345018, A/CSM W Henderson, Royal Highlanders, (Kelty) For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He reorganised and led his company under heavy fire in an attack after his company commander had become a casualty. He showed splendid courage throughout. ( The other recipient was Cpl J Yardley, Cardenden)
Dunfermline Journal 26th October 1918 “Kelty man’s D.C.M”
The latest list of D.C.M. awards contained the name of Sergeant W Crawford, Royal Engineers, Kelty, who has for nearly two years performed the duties of “section sergeant” during which time his courage unfailing devotion to duty, and initiative have been an excellent example to the men under him, whose efficiently he has brought to a high standard. Sgt William Crawford also held the Military Medal.
Distinguished Conduct Medal Citations
S/2026, Corporal C.G. Flockhart, 10th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Kelty, Fife) London Gazette 3rd September 1919. From 25th February to 16/17th September 1918. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during the past six months as N.C.O. of Battalion Signallers and as chief linesman. He has never failed to maintain communication between Battalion headquarters and companies in the front line at a very standard of excellence. In August and September, in the Somme advance, he showed great skill and ability in adapting his command to the altered conditions of warfare, and by his keenness, determination and great personal gallantly, set a very fine example to those under him.
Distinguished Conduct Medal Citations
409711, Battalion Sergeant Major, V. Turner, 211th East Lancashires, Territorial Forces (Kelty) London Gazette 11th March 1920. For cool courage and devotion to duty throughout recent operations, particularly between period 17th September to 11th November 1918. He has been in charge of ammunition convoys which have several times come under heavy shell and machine gun fire, and he has on every occasion extricated his party successfully.
Dundee Courier 11th October 1918 “Kelty Colonial wins D.C.M”
Sergeant Adam Cunningham, New Zealand Forces, whose parents reside at Woodend Park, Kelty, has been awarded the D.C.M. Sergeant Cunningham emigrated to New Zealand ten years ago, where he was employed as a miner. He enlisted shortly after the outbreak of war, and has seen much service. He has been once wounded. “After an enemy counter-attack he noticed a large party of the enemy in a trench. He immediately collected twelve men and charged the enemy, who were taken by surprise, and some fifty were captured at the cost of very light casualties. During hard fighting, lasting several days, he distinguished himself by his gallantry and dash.
Dunfermline Journal 20th July 1918 “French cross for Kelty hero”
Mr James Sinclair, Grievesland Cottage, has received information that his son Private Tom Sinclair, trench mortar battery, has been awarded the French Croix de Guerre for bravery on the field during the operations on June 11th 12th and 13th when in support of a French battalion. Private Sinclair joined up on the outbreak of war and has been over three years in France. A younger brother has seen the same length of service, while a brother in law after serving through the Gallipoli campaign was taken prisoner in France during the operations in France.
Dundee Evening Telegraph 29th March 1918
The pleasing news has reached Kelty that Sergeant John Carstairs, whose parents reside at Bridgend, Kelty, has been awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre for meritous service. Carstairs who is 30 years of age is a time serving soldier having enlisted in the Seaforths 14 years ago. In this campaign he has been transferred to the Engineers, and has been once wounded two brothers are on active service.
Dunfermline Journal 24th July 1915 “Distinguished in the field”
Mr Colin Terris, Keltyhead, Kelty, has received the following communication from his son “37th division Expeditionary Force. Lance Corporal James Terris Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, your commanding officer and brigade officer have informed me that you have distinguished yourself by your conduct in the field. I have read their report with much pleasure signed Major General commanding 37th division. Lance Corporal James Terris only in his twentieth year (having reached his twentieth year somewhere in France) has almost completed four years of service in the army, having begun his service when only 15 years of age. He joined primarily for the purpose of furthering his musical education as a bandsman, but despite this fact he took a especially keen interest in rifle practice and turned out to be one of the finest shots in the battalion. When war was declared the 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, to which he belongs, had the distinction of being the first regiment of the Expeditionary Force to land in France, and although he has seen many of his comrades shot down by his side he has so far never received a scratch. His kilt although bears the signs of not being bullet proof. Jim has been engaged as a stretcher bearer for most of his time at the front. Sgt Major Markey well known in football circles and presently in Perth Red Cross hospital recovering from wounds, speaks highly of young Terris’s courage and daring in face of imminent danger. The Lance Corporal is expecting to get home shortly, and no doubt his old comrades in the Kelty and Blairadam Brass Band will be prepared to give him a rousing reception.
Dunfermline Journal 24th October 1914 “A local hero”
Among the first Cameron Highlanders mentioned in Sir John French’s dispatches 7638, Sergeant J Ford, Kelty, (previously miner) attested at Edinburgh on the 15th September 1905 aged 19.
There were also at least 20 men who were awarded the Military Medal who lived in Kelty
Private James McGarry, Royal Warwick’s, Sergeant David Reid. Private George Marshall, A.S.C. Sergeant Johnstone Crawford, R.E. L/Corp James Terris, A&S.H. Corp Hugh Macaulay, Gordon Highlanders. Private John Boyle, Royal Irish Fusiliers. Private Owen Lochrin, A&S.H. Private Robert Hoey, Gordon Highlanders. L/Corp G Wyse. Private William Penman, R.A.M.C. L/Corp James Penman, A. &S.H. Sergeant T Stenhouse, Sergeant John Wallace, A&S.H. Private James Deas. Sergeant David Stevenson, Canadians. Corporal William Mitchell, A&S.H. Sergeant Robert Cowan, A&S.H. Sergeant Major William Henderson, Private John Henderson.