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Great War hero commemorated in Carluke

Published Thursday, 01 November 2018

Piper: Corporal Joe Davies, Army School of Bagpipe Music; Captain Gerry McQuade, Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, Provost Ian McAllan, Lady Susan Haughey and Christopher Duncan.

One of Carluke’s WW1 heroes has been honoured at a special commemoration in the town.

Provost, Ian McAllan, led the proceedings, along with Lord Lieutenant, Lady Susan Haughey, as a memorial stone was blessed and laid in memory of Sergeant Thomas Caldwell in Market Square.

The event, organised by the council with support from Thomas Caldwell’s family and the Carluke Historical Society, took place 100 years to the day since the battle of Audenarde, towards the end of WW1, for which Sgt Caldwell was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Almost five decades since Thomas died, aged 74, the town came to a standstill to listen to dedications from the Provost, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, and Mr Caldwell’s grandson Christopher Duncan who had travelled 5000 miles from his home in Hong Kong to take part.

Pupils from Kirkton and St Athanasius Primary Schools, who had worked on a project based on local recipients of the Victoria Cross, were also there, and the last post was played by a young musician from Carluke High School as Rev Ian Cunningham of Kirkton Church carried out the blessing of the memorial.

Provost McAllan said: “Thomas Caldwell was a son of Carluke whose actions on this very day a century ago delivered so many other sons safely back to their families.

“Enlisted at the outbreak of war, Thomas had already risen to the rank of sergeant in the Lanarkshire Yeomanry - during a three year posting in Gallipoli - when he arrived at the western front in June of 1918.

“World War 1 was nearing its end when the events during the attack on Audenarde earned him the accolade we still honour him for to this day. Heroic and selfless, he single-handedly saved numerous casualties, leading to the capture of 70 prisoners, eight machine guns and one trench mortar. It very likely contributed to the allied victory celebrated just weeks later.

“By laying and dedicating this memorial stone in his home town this morning we honour Thomas’ name, we recognise his bravery and we acknowledge his achievements. We give thanks for his life and for the actions he took to preserve our freedom.”

Mr Caldwell’s grandson, Christopher Duncan, said he wouldn’t have missed the ceremony, despite the 10000 mile round trip.

“Today is 100 years to the day that my grandfather, who was 24 years of age at the time, undertook a selfless and remarkable act of bravery. He was in command of his section and was engaged in clearing a farmhouse when his section came under intense fire at close range. My grandfather rushed immediately towards the farm house, captured the enemy position single-handed and took 18 prisoners. 

“When you hear this you could easily imagine him as this tough, aggressive character, However, the truth is the complete opposite. He was a peaceful, loving and caring man, who I’m sad never to have met. He died just a few months before I was born.

“But when mum told me about this event I just knew that it was so important to have a member of the family here and I’m so thrilled to have had this opportunity.

“I would like to thank the council, Carluke Historical Society and the people of Carluke for their unfailing determination and commitment to keeping my grandfather’s memory alive.”