Three of the Munro lads from Golspie immigrated to Canada in their young manhood. One of them was my grandfather, Duncan, who had joined the Canadian Rifles and was preparing to go to war when the Armistice was signed. Another, Donald, had to have been Hughina's "Fourth Son" engaged in battle, although all records for Donald have since been lost.
The third was Archie, already married and a father. Looking through his records, Shirl and I have concluded that Archie lied about his age - downward - to get into the army as part of the British Overseas Expeditionary Force. He was among the first 30,000 Canadian troops to enter the war.
Archie's service was cut short. He was caught in the first attack in which Germans used gas, for which the Allies were unprepared. He was left in No Man's Land at Ypres for 24 hours, then was captured by the Germans. He spent 18 months as a prisoner of war. At the POW camp, the "Spanish" flu was killing prisoners by the hundreds. Archie, who had gone into a coma, was thrown out with the dead. Fortunately, a Russian doctor checked the pile of corpses and found Archie still alive and persuaded a German doctor to send him to a hospital.
Later Archie was sent to recuperate in Switzerland, where hospital care and the clean mountain air helped improve his health. He was later sent to England in a prisoner exchange. Before the war was out, he was sent back to Canada, where the government sent him on tours to lecture about his experiences among the terrifying Huns.
Archie and his family later moved to Chicago. He succumbed to his injuries and died in 1921.
Sgt. William A. Munro
Jack went to France in 1914, at the beginning of the war, and fought through all of the outstanding engagements and battles of the war: The Retreat from Mons, Ypres, St. Julien, the Battle of the Marne, The Somme Offensive. He was swiftly promoted through the ranks, and achieved the rank of regimental sergeant major, a remarkable feat for a man so young. He went through a long spell of trench warfare.
During one engagement, in the face of fierce shelling and machine gun fire, he carried one of his officers off the field. He was well known for continually denying himself to help his wounded comrades, even to the length of giving up his own field dressing.
Jack was wounded four times, the last most severely. After recuperating, he was posted as an instructor and could have remained in that position, but "his whole desire was to be in the firing line along with his comrades."
On April 12, 1917, he was killed by a shell while again helping a comrade back to safety. He was only 23 years old. His death came just five months after his mother was devastated by the news of William's death.
Jack's obituary reported that "the community of Golspie could hardly accept the sad tidings. They simply refused to believe such a gallant life had at last been tragically ended."
He was posthumously awarded the Military Cross for "conspicuous bravery on the field of battle."
Today, Memorial Day, I am so proud to honor and name among my relatives these stalwart, steadfast, brave men who made, as the cliche says, "the ultimate sacrifice". I am sure that they, like the soliders in "Braveheart", "fought like warrior poets, and won [our] freedom."
They are my heroes.