James Neilson GRAHAM

Regiment:               Royal Garrison Artillery, 4th Highland
                               Mountain Brigade  

Rank & Number:    
Gunner, 2369 & 300062  

18 December 1892; Rawflat, Ancrum,

                       1970; Ayr  


JAMES NEILSON GRAHAM was born 18 Dec 1892 in Rawflat, Ancrum, Roxburghshire, to parents Alexander Scott, a farmer, and Elizabeth Neilson Kerr (who married in Bowmore, Islay on 7 Nov 1886). He died, aged 77, in Ayr in 1970.  

On 1 June 1928 at Fincurror, Lesmahagow, James (aged 35, dairyman, of Meadowbank, Dalserf) married Jane Gavin (aged 23, dairymaid)  

In the 1901 Census, James, aged 8, is living Raesflat Farmouse, Ancrum, with parents Alex (43, b. Kilmacolm, farmer/grazier) and Elizabeth (33, b. Kilmacolm) and siblings Elizabeth (13), Alexr (12) and Mary S (5)  

In the 1911 Census, aged 18 and an apprentice ship carpenter, he is living Castlepark, Fairlie with parents Alex (53, grazier) and Elizabeth (43, married 24 years, 6 children/5 living) and sisters Elizabeth (23) and Jessie (8)    

Named on the Largs & Millport Weekly News Roll of Honour printed 21 Nov 1914 and the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald Roll of Honour printed Dec 1914 (Graham, Gr. James, Castle Park, Fairlie, Bute Mountain Battery).  His medal index card shows first theatre of war entered was Egypt on 2 Aug 1915.  On 1 Jan 1916, the Largs & Millport Weekly News printed a letter of thanks to the Cigarette and Tobacco Fund in which he described some of his experiences at Gallipoli and asked if “some of the kind folks of Fairlie might see their way to send this little section of ours a musical instrument of some sort – a good big mouth organ would be lovely for the winter evenings”.   The newspaper confirmed that his request had been fulfilled, and the mouth organ, along with the football and boxing gloves requested by other soldiers, were on their way to the Dardanelles.  He received the 1914-15 Star and the British War and Victory medals.

Extracts from the Largs & Millport Weekly News:-  

21 November 1914
Local Roll Of Honour:  The following is the first instalment of what we hope will eventually be a complete list of all connected with this district who have at present answered the urgent call to arms in the great crisis of our national history:-   Bute Battery, 4th Highland (Mountain) Brigade, Royal Garrison Artillery (T)   Fairlie - Graham Gr., James, Bute Mountain Battery           

1 January 1916
Fairlie Cigarette And Tobacco Fund:  Writing to Mr. Wm. Miller, Fairlie, acknowledging a parcel of cigarettes, Gunner James Graham says:-    You must really excuse my delay in thanking you for the splendid gift of cigarettes which I received, but really we have been kept “on the hop” for over a month now, learning this new branch of the Artillery to which 23 of us have been attached.  The cigarettes were splendid, and I handed them round the tent the night I received them, and all of us agreed that they were “kings” to the “special” brands made for poor Tommy in the trenches.  I am on a fine staff job for the winter here, and although we are still under canvas our winter house is about ready for occupation, so we will be nice and snug for the next few months.    
Our company of N.C.O.’s and gunners is from the Mountain Brigade, and our commanding officer is from a big East of England R.F.A. Territorial Battery, so we are all Territorials, and anyway we don’t need any regulars with their ghost stories, etc.  Our gunners belong to various places . . . . .  We have Jamie Ramsay with us, and he is really a splendid cook.  If you could only sample some of his roast beef, boiled cabbage, potatoes, and a lot of other things he turns out, you would be surprised.  There are four Largs lads too,  two from Millport, and four frae “Bonnie Rothesay Bay”, complete the sort of local contingent.  Then Campbeltown has a representative, Oban has a few, and the remainder are drawn from Ross and Cromarty, also Stornoway.    
I heard from my sister that you expect to get Mr. Gollan back among you soon again.  My old village must have a changed appearance now, and a good many houses are mourning the loss of dear ones.  I hope your nephew will get on all right over here.  We never hear a word from the fighting line here at all, but we get a war telegram daily telling us of all the fighting on the other fronts of this terrific struggle for supremacy.  Our mails seem to be coming better via the new route, and it was time they enquired about the poor soldiers’ parcels going astray so often.  This island is well equipped now, but I must not say too much about these affairs, as that would be treading on dangerous ground.   
The only thing I would like to say in closing is that perhaps some of the kind folks of Fairlie might see their way to send this little section of ours a musical instrument of some sort – a good big mouth organ would be lovely for the winter evenings.  I hope this note finds you and your committee all enjoying good health, and may you have a successful wind-up to this famous year of 1915.   
Gunner Graham’s request for a mouth organ has, we believe, been anticipated, and one sent out, but anyhow the lads will not be allowed to lack the means whereby they may beguile the winter evenings when not otherwise engaged “entertaining” the Turks.  Another request is for a football, and a kind friend having provided same, it has been despatched at once, as we understand the gallant gunners are entering a strong team in the “Gallipoli” Cup competition.  Another friend has kindly provided two pairs of boxing gloves, so Johnnie Turk may expect some smashing blows in the next round of the big fight.  

29 January 1916        

Gunner James Graham, R.G.A., recently invalided from the Dardanelles through an attack of dysentery, is home on furlough this week and is looking quite fit again.

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Fairlie Community Association SCIO
Scottish Charity No. SC028785