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1919 Thomas G Winning back from the War

Cornet Tom Winning with Acting Father Charles Grieve dancing the reel at the Volunteer Park Games on Friday 6 June 1919, celebrating the first Common Riding after World War 1.

Technically, the War wasn’t yet over -the Treaty of Versailles wasn’t signed until after the Common Riding on the 28th June; and the national Peace Day celebration was not held until 19 July – with 15,000 troops marching past a temporary wood and plaster Cenotaph

and here a film of Kilmarnock’s Peace Day.
[Peace Day was not just a day of parades and bonfires – Luton Town Hall was burnt down during a riot by ex-servicemen unhappy with unemployment and other grievances] In Hawick, mill workers were demanding increased pay and a 44 hour week, and at the start of the Common Riding in June 1919 the National Union of General Workers had voted 1745 to 134 for strike action, and the issue went to arbritration.

In Hawick, Peace Day was a Saturday and the day of the Vertish Hill Sports, and a record crowd climbed the hill for the childrens races and later watch some of “the celebration bonfires which were lit the length of Britain” [quote from Derek Robertson’s excellent “All These Fine Fellows”]

The Commo Riding was marred by an accident at the Nipknowes when a charabanc’s brakes failed, killing two schoolboys, Richard Bell and Robert Irvine, who were walking on the pavement; and three men Robert Dickson a demobbed soldier  from Langholm, William Reid from Selkirk and Lee Barnes, Cavers.  Andrew Landles, father of the 1921 Cornet, recalled that

on our return from the Moor I was just below the Nipknowes on the Vertish Hill, when a motor bus passed. One of our party remarked that the bus was going too fast considering the busy state of the road, but little did we know that the driver had lost control. We had not gone far when we heard a terrible crash. The bus had toppled over and four people were killed and many injured.  … I carried the body of a fine young boy down to the mortuary

It wasn’t until the end of August that there was a Welcome Home parade in Hawick for ex-servicemen. 800 marched along from Dovecote Street to Buccleuch Park cricket ground, where various speeches were made, before the crowds moved next door to the Volunteer Park for a programme of sports, including “Race for men with crutches” and”Race for maimed men”

Neither Tom nor his Acting Father had been so unlucky, but it must have been a Common Riding which mixed great happiness with great sadness and uncertainty for the town.

Both had served in the Lothian and Border Horse,
Tom in the 1/1st A Squadron, being demobbed after service in France and Salonika as a Sergeant in 1919; and
Charles as a Squadron Sergeant Major in the 2/1st, which formed as a second-line regiment in September 1914 and remained at home throughout the war, in Dunbar.

On the Teviothead Church Roll of Honour – 3rd from bottom – Squadron Sergeant Major Charles W Grieve Lothian & Border Horse, and at the top, Major S Strang-Steel, Tom’s captain in A Squadron, 2/1st.

[Charles’ Service Record includes his letter to his CO Lt Col Lord George Scott 2/1st in April 1916 asking he revert to Private – but Teviothead honoured him with his 1914 Territorial rank]

The two men lived next to each other, just up the road at Branxholme.
Tom was born, a twin though John died young, in 1888 in Branxholme Knowe on the Hawick side of Branxholme Castle; and Charles in 1883 in the much larger Branxholme Park. So in 1919 they were aged 31 and 36

Tom’s father was a solicitor, active member of the Hawick Archaeological Society, Chairman of Hawick Parish Council, laid the foundation stone of Lodge St John 111 etc; and Tom’s mother Jemima had been on the Committee which in 1914 had organised the 400th anniversary pageant of 1514

Charles’s family were farmers – the Grieves farmed 600 acres at Branxholme Park; and across the river at Southfields; and Charles still decribed his occupation as a “gentleman” on his Army records when he was in his 30s.

They had both gone to George Watsons College in Edinburgh, Tom at the age of 10 in 1898. Watsons was and is a day school,  so Tom was a boarder with an Edinburgh family – in 1901 he was with Mr and Mrs Cameron in 3 Graham Street , just off the Ferry Road past the Heriots ground, and a surprisingly long way out from the school which was then in Archibald Place behind the Chalmers Eye Pavilion. [but actually only 22 minutes on the 27 bus nowadays ] His older sisters Maria 19, and Alice 17 were also boarders in the house, along with the Cameron’s three daughters and two sons aged 3 to 13. He can’t have wearied for lack of company – maybe Watsons was a place he could get away from it all – he is credited with composing a school song “Hail to the Old School”

Tom joined “C” Squadron Lothian and Berwickshire Imperial Yeomanry a Territorial cavalry regiment in 1905, at the age of 17, and served as a trooper until 1908 age 20, when he attended Edinburgh University. From 1908 to 1910 aged 20-22, he attended Law classes. Charles must already have left – he was an undergraduate in the 1901 census.

Whether either graduated, or needed to graduate, is unclear.
[Charles lists his occupation as “gentleman” in 1903 when he joined “A” squadron of the Imperial Yeomanry so didn’t have an occupation, but was presumably living off the income of the Branxholme Park farm. Up to the outbreak of the War, his seervice record shows him attending the sumer camps at Hedderwick, Dunbar; and promotions to Sergeant and Squadron Sergeant Major]

Tom was now a law apprentice at James Barrie WS Hawick [maybe 1905 when he probably left school]  and  then probably 1908-1910 at T S Paterson & Davidson , Edinburgh when he attanded the law classes.

By 1911 he was back in Hawick – and at the age of 23 President of the Callants Club, and at 24 in 1912 a partner in Guthrie and Winning solicitors, High Street, Hawick.

In September 1914 age 26 he joined up to the Lothian & Borders Horse Yeomanry, as the Imperial Yeomanry had been retitled in the 1908 Army re-organisation , and with the other squadrons moved to Amisfield Park, now Haddington Golf Club, for the winter where “the inevitable wet weather reduced the horse lines to an indescribable mass of mud” War Record

the first winter of the war will always be a recollection of vigorous trainingcarried out in spite of a constant struggle gaianst adverse conditions andvaried by a succession of alarms of enemy landings; a memory of mud and troop-training, musketry and roadside control-posts, a midnight stampede of horses, and constant issues and recall of ammunition, coupled wityh ominous announcements that “all men are confined to camp tonight because theres a ‘scare’ on

In May 1915, they moved to Hedderwick, Dunbar; in July they were issued with cavalry swords; and finally at the end of July 1915 the squadrons were separated, with C Squaadron and Charles remaining in Dunbar for the rest of the war, and Tom’s “A” squadron moving to Salisbury Plain for further training, and then on 21 September 1915 left for France, detraining at Longeau near Amiens, and moving up to be in reserve for ther Battle of Loos.

They were not used there, but moved by train in October to Marseilles  where

chaos held undisputed sway. Units of every kind were inextricably mingled at the Borely Racecourse in a camp where the mud rivalled that at Amisfield

At the beginning of December 1915, the squadron embarked for a destination unknown – until they landed at Salonika now Thessalonika  “Greece’s Hippest City

But at the time, Salonika was a major port in the area which was still recovering from the Balkan Wars of 1912 when it had been one of the main objectives and had been captured by the Greeks; with a pro-German Greek government, a confusing mix of Serbian , French, Greek and British forces, and on the doorstep of enemies Bulgaria , and Turkey and the Gallipoli straits.

For the rest of the winter, the Lothian and Border Horse were digging an entrenched camp on the hills behind the town – to defend the town against the Bulgarians 30 miles to the North. By Christmas 1915, “A” Squadron was on outpost duty outside Salonika, undertaking reconaissance of the unknown country between the British and the Bulgarian forces. Most of the activity was small scale – a seargeant and ten men sent to bring in prisoners from one village; a small party to recover arms from another.
In summer 1916 the British and French forces advanced from their positions in Salonika, and reained there until the final campaign of 1918.

“A” squadron with the now Sergeant Tom Winning moved up to the Struma Valley to support the Monastir Offensive following Romania’s entry into the war.

Overall, this was a considerable and complex Front – the Allied force of 400000 men had 6 Serbian, 5 British, 4 French, 1 Italian infantry divisions and 1 Russian infantry brigade  supported by 1,025 artillery pieces and 1,300 machine guns.
The Central Powers had the Bulgarian First and Second Armies, and the German Eleventh Army, together with  Turkish forces protecting the Greek/Turkish border.
The attacks on the River Struma were not seen as major events, but were to be conducted by the British as demonstrative attacks to pin down as many Bulgarian and German troops as possible. The Lothian and Border Horse history noted “a visit which will long be remmebered for the grapes and melons and fruit of every kind which grew in profusion about evacuated villages”

“A” squadron was then sent to the Doiran Lake front and stayed there until the final advance in September 1918, defending a sector extending from Doiran Station to the village of Surlova

During their time the “A” squadron helped newly arrived detachments strengthen the resolve of the Greek Army to join the Allied rather than the Central Powers; continued with mounted patrol duties; and took part in raids on Bulgarian villages to the east of Lake Doiran.

In July 1918 they were withdrawn for a month’s intensive training in preparation for the general advance. On September 28th they entered Bulgaria, and after the armistice with Bulgaria on 30th September, they moved to Serbia in a liaison role between scattered Grek, Serbian and British forces there, then were transferred back across the border into Bulgaria once more , staying for a fortnight close to the Turkish border, until the armistice with Turkey was signed on 30 October 1918; after which it began the return to Salonika, arriving before the end of November.

Sergeant Tom Winning was returned to Hawick in January 1919, and demobbed in March 1919.

Then – Cornet in June 1919 at age 31

His Lass was Peggy Davidson who must have been a charming and lively Lass, with a real twinkle in her eye, to judge from the photograph which accompanied her obituary in the Hawick News in July 1986

Peggy Davidson, 1919 Lass, died July 1986.
Founded the Cornets Lasses and  Acting Mothers Association in July 1954.
Captain of 1st Hawick Guides.
Unmarried, lived in North Berwick, and Spittal, near her farmer brother at Merlewood, Berwickshire.

Tom continued to work in Hawick after the war , and play his part in the town

First President of the Mosstroopers Club in 1920

Secretary of Common Riding Committee 1923 -1925
Tom Ker had been the previous Secretary from 1908 until 1925, so presumably Tom Winning took over with a similar long term expectation, but in 1925 he seems to have left for Edinburgh to set up Hamilton & Winning solicitors at 94 Dundas Street, Edinburgh.

This lasted until 29 when he was appointed Secretary of Grand Lodge of Scotland – a considerable Masonic appointment at the helm of the Head Office for Scottish Lodges at home and overseas.
He must therefore have been an active member of Lodge St John 111 in Hawick
[his father certainly was – John  Gray Winning, Provincial Grand Deputy Master gave the toast “The Grand Lodge of Scotland” at the laying of the foundation stone of the Lodge St John 111 in Commercial Road, October 1922]

The Grand Secretary was, and is, an important post – in 1930 it was being reported as significant support that “Grand Secretary Bro TG Winning supports the formation of a Watsonians Lodge in Edinburgh for the hundreds of Watsonian Craftsmen in Scotland”

Part of the job entailed substantial travel, and pasenger lists record some of those – all without Mrs TG on passenger list!

in 1930 he is returning from either Capetown, South Africa on the Orient Line’s “Cronsay”
in 1931 from St John’s, Halifax to New York on the SS”Rosalind” and then to Glasgow on the “Transylvania”
in 1935 from Tangier on the “Sibajak”

[here on the Tangier trip, he travelled in company with half a dozen Edinburgh accountants and solicitors , with occupation given as his usual  “Secretary” on what must have been some sort of Masonic knees-up]
in 1936 from Hamilton, Bermuda on the SS “Queen of Prussia” Here in the company of Lord Belhaven, a previous Grand Master – usually he travelled alone.
in 1937 from New York to Southhampton on the Berengeria
in 1938 from Newfoundland on the Furness Line “Boston”. “The members of the district grand Lodge …. held a dinner at Woodstock in honour of R W Bro T G Winning J.P. Grand Secy of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, paying a short visit to Newfoundland”

By 1938 he was very much an establishment figure – note that he is now a Justice of the Peace. From 1932 his number is in the Edinburgh Telephone Directory as Mr & Mrs TG Winning Edinburgh 31160

1932 – 39 12 Learmonth Place, Ed 4

in the Comely Bank area

19 July 1939 he attends [hopefully with Mrs TG in tow] the installation of HRH Duke of Kent as Grand Master, England at Olympia, in the presence of Most Worshipful Brother The King.

1940 – 1941 7 Darnaway Street, Edinburgh 3

a substantially grander house off Moray Place

His death in 1941 age 53 was noticed around the world of Scottish masonry – most unusually on a ship evacuating civilians from Japan on the outbreak of war

The death  of Wor Bro TG Winning, Grand Secretary, informed by letter of 19 August 1941 to Emergency Meeting of Lodge “Star in the East” held on board evacuation ship SS Gripsholm on 8 August 1942  at which the minutes of the regular meeting of November 11, 1941 held at the Masonic Temple Yokahama, Japan were read, voted and confirmed.

A strange way to hear of the death of a Cornet – my Granny’s cousin.

I have used Derek Robertson‘s “All these Fine Fellows”  Copies available from the Library ! but a new edition is due in 2014. It is a great piece of work – highly readable, very touching at times, and it gives a tremendous feeling for what Hawick went through during the War .

About Neil Wallace

Born in the Haig Maternity, lived in Dovemount Place, and started school there at Trinity. To Burnfoot Primary then the High School. Moved away from the town to Cardiff, then Edinburgh, and now an exile in Suffolk.


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