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Two old photographs of the Town House in Kintore. The top picture is believed to date from around 1900. Apart from the horses and carts, remarkably little has changed in this view. Note the small boy with the large sun hat, obviously very curious about the photographer, but also rather shy.

This picture right is taken from an old postcard and shows the back of the Town House.

Deers Den Roman Camp, Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements

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Between 2002 and 2004, archaeologists undertook a major excavation programme on the site of the Deer's Den Roman camp in Kintore, prior to work starting on the housing developments that now cover the area.

During this the archaeologists from AOC Archaeology uncovered not only remains of the Roman camp, but of settlements dating back to the mid-to-late Bronze Age (below, right).

The Roman camp itself is thought to relate to Agricola's campaigns into Scotland. The Romans, it is believed, were attracted by the belief that Scotland was rich in natural resources, including gold, silver and tin.

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The Deer's Den camp could have been involved in the preparations for the decisive battle of Mons Graupius (believed to be the source of the name "Grampian").

The archaeologists say that the Kintore camp was definitely occupied in 120 AD and may have been occupied on as many as three occasions during the Scottish campaigns, before disappointment about the lack of resources and more pressing matters elsewhere in the Roman Empire, brought about consolidation and retreat.
The Deer's Den Roman camp is one of the largest in the area, stretching from close to the centre of Kintore out across the bypass. Covering 44 hectares, it is believed it could have been occupied by as many as 10,000 men.

During the two-year excavations the archaeologists uncovered the remains of no less than 250 Roman bread ovens (the stone base of one is pictured below), one of the largest number found in this country. In these ovens flat bread would be baked, probably with toppings of locally grown vegetables - effectively the ancient Roman equivalent of a pizza! This staple diet was apparently augmented by eggs.
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It is not just the sheer numbers of troops and the logistics of feeding this army that is quite mind boggling. Viewing the excavation work, just prior to construction starting on Stewart Milne Homes' Deer's Den development gave me an amazing insight into the construction work involved in what was a temporary marching camp.

The archaeological team have dug trenches acrosss the original ditch which fortified the Roman Camp. It would be a huge task to dig this two-to-three metre ditch right around the camp with a modern excavator, but that this was dug by hand by an advance party is staggering.
In addition to the Roman remains, the archaeologists have found a number of Bronze Age round houses. These would have been built of wattle and daub, but the precise detail of their construction is unclear from the post holes that remaining.

Candy Hatherley of AOC Archaeology says the huts could have had either pitched or 'beehive' roofs and could even have had two floors, with the animals kept on the floor level.

One thing that puzzles the archaeologists is that - while they have found evidence of almost constant habitation from Neolithic times to the Roman campaigns - there is then little evidence of occupation between then and the Middle Ages. This was when the town of Kintore developed, being granted its royal burgh status in 1190.

"It may have been thought taboo to stay in that area because of its association with an invading army," says Murray Cook, senior project officer at AOC Archaeology".

Photos courtesy of Stewart Milne Homes

Bridgealehouse


Bridgealehouse is located at the junction of Lochburn Drive and Northern Road. It served as the court and council house until the present Town House was built.

Kintore's Burgh Records refer to court proceedings held in Bridgealehose from around 1690 to 1745. Each report is typically annotated "The Court of Kintore, holden in the Chamber at Bridgealehouse, the [date]". In each instance the "Magistrates and Councillors of Kintore" which included the Earl of Kintore, Robert Bruce and the Bailies of Kintore are recorded.

There is, furthermore, a "List of Poleable Persons 1696" which includes the entry "BRIDGE ALEHOUSS - 'Robert Bruce and Issobell Laing, his spouse".

After the present Town House was built, Bridgealehouse became a coaching inn. Within the genealogy of the Earl of Kintore and the Keith family, a marriage is recorded between John Fraser "Farmer and Innkeeper Bridgealehouse" and Jean Gordon on 16 October 1779.

In 2004, Bridgealehouse came under threat of demolition for a new housing development.

Bridge over the River Don


The existing bridge at Boat of Kintore dates from the 1980s when the then Grampian Regional Council decided to replace the 1882 bridge, which had been opened by Kintore Provost Thomas Fraser.

The old bridge had a five-ton weight restriction and was also a B-listed structure. The regional council's 1985 proposal was controversial and Kintore Community Council called a public meeting. There was concern that a new bridge (without a weight restriction) would encourage heavy traffic to use the route.

The old bridge had cast figures on the link girders representing the arms of the Earl of Kintore and this is echoed by the similar arms on the girders of the new bridge.

We are grateful to "anonymous" who sent this account of the new bridge (his reference to JR Craig the IV building the bridge in the 1500s and the 1,000-foot high crane should, perhaps, be taken with a sizeable grain or two of salt):

"Replacing the older "Victorian" bridge which was originally build by JR Craig the IV in the 1500's, the new bridge was a momentus occasion within the history of Kintore.

"A huge crane which at the time, was the biggest crane in Western Europe, arrived and spent three days setting up for the task. I watched from my bedroom window, and during the night we would hear the crane creaking under the weight of the new bridge as it hung suspended from 1000 ft up. The new bridge was built by Beattie the builders for a cost of £6755.20.

"Many townspeople came out to watch the last bolts being tightened as the Inverurie Pipe Band played to the tune of "Ancient Ragtime" by Hollensbatt."

Thanks to George Wood we have the following update:

“I notice that in the piece about the replacement of the Don Bridge, the cast iron coats of arms are mentioned, but it is not recorded that one of the original coats of arms was cleaned and painted and is now mounted on the front of the Town House.

“Both coats of arms had been “rescued” by an un-named person and had to be recovered from his garden by Gordon District Council. They were stored at Rhynie, but unfortunately one had been broken either during or after their removal.

“As well as recovering the coat of arms and refurbishing it, I researched the bridge history and I think your report is a bit wide of the mark. The Burgh Council Minute Book (held in the Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archive in Old Aberdeen House) record as follows:

07.03.1879, Treasurer Fraser suggested the building of a foot bridge to replace the EXISTING FERRY, so there was no bridge before the 1882 span.
07.10.1879 After discussions with Messers Harper of Aberdeen, it was moved that a more substantial structure be built.
06.11.1879 Committee appointed.
01.03.1880 Councillor Beaton pointed out that the Bridge Committee had never met. (Nothing changes)
and so on, until
17.04.1882 Only one tender received, £1120 from Mr Fyfe of Kemnay Quarries, was accepted. Subscriptions received to date £919.3.6
13.07.1882 Contact signed.
etc.
07.03.1883 Arrangements in connection with the opening referred to the Bridge Committee. So the bridge doesn’t appear to have been opened until 1883.
etc.
06.02.1884 Final account £1374.12.9
28.02.1884 Final agreement on accounts Mr Fyfe £1414.12.9, Mr Willet £43.3/-.”

George Wood also kindly forwarded the following pictures of the old bridge. He would also like to thank the Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archive for all their help.
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Granite


Quarrying in Kintore had taken place on a small scale since 1830 when the quarry was opened to supply stone for the alterations at Kemnay House. John Fyffe later took a lease on Paradise Hill. We presume the Kintore quarry referred to is Tom's Forest quarry.

John Fyffe built the quarries up until the name of Kemnay granite was known all over the world. The work of the quarries brought many people into the area, and as a result the village began to be laid out.

Between them the quarries employed over four hundred men and were celebrated for supplying the granite for Holburn Viaduct, Thames Embankment, London Bridge* and the Forth Bridge.

There was also another, smaller quarry at Balbithan Hill, but we can find no historical information about this quarry. Was it a 'satellite' operation from the Kintore quarry, or a separate enterprise?

If anyone has information on the Balbithan quarry we would be most grateful. Please email editor@kintore.org.uk.

(*London Bridge is now at Lake Havasu City, Arizona)

Kintore Pipe Band

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Dating from before the First World War, the Kintore Pipe Band was reformed in 1921 by returning Gordon Highlanders.

Because the uniforms were donated to the band by the returning Gordons, the band wears the Regimental version of the Gordon Highlanders tartan.

Kintore Pipe Band website
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New Street (now known as Northern Road), Kintore. We think the photo is taken looking back towards the square and was taken around 1920. The church on the left is the old Kintore Free Church which burned down in 1936.

The Kintore Public Hall


Kintore Public Hall was opened on Friday, November 1, 1895 with an Opening Ball. The programme (below) contained a dance card into which was written the name of the dancing partner for each dance.

Thanks to George Wood for contributing this information and the copy of the programme
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The Shirra Dam and Shirra Loch


George Wood writes:

“The Shirra Dam was on Broomhill, I think there is a tractor workshop built on it now. It supplied the hydro-electric station at the other side of the main road from Torryburn and was demolished in 1939 as a Territorial Army exercise.

“Col. Tawse (the Aberdeen civil engineer) was in charge and they tried to blow it up, but apparently failed miserably and had to break it up by hand. The night before my Father-in-Law’s wedding (George Carnie of Broomhill) on 25th June 1935, two men took a boat out onto the loch and it capsized and at least one of them was drowned.

“The dam was backfilled with material excavated when they drove the new airport* access road in from the A96. About the only relic of the hydro plant is the concrete flume pipe which can be seen on the east side of the Tuach Burn road bridge, just on the far side of Tumulus Way.”

(*This would be the old Kintore airfield which was between Kintore and Thainstone on the west of the A96.)
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The Kintore Suffragette


Caroline A.I. Phillips, mentioned in Leah Leneman's "A Guid Cause; The Women's Suffrage Movement in Scotland." was born in Kintore on 13 December 1870, the daughter of the Free Church schoolmaster.

The family moved to Aberdeen in 1874. Caroline became a journalist with the Aberdeen Daily Journal and was honourary secretary of the Aberdeen branch of the WSPU (Women's Social and Political Union) 1907-09.

She is buried in Kintore - look for a Celtic cross gravestone in the graveyard.

MORE ON CAROLINE PHILLIPS

Thanks to Alison McColl for contributing this item.

William Carnie



George Wood writes: Ever heard of William Carnie (Willum) who was killed in WWI. who was commemorated by an annual medal for the dux at Kintore School?

I have a heap of stuff on him, but strangely not his medals or the bronze plaque which was given to the next of kin and nobody knows what happened to them. I visited the Tank Museum once and asked the archivist about Musical Box, he just turned round and started taking down boxes of material on the action.

His brother John was an engineer with McKinnon in Spring Garden and served in the Royal Flying Corps in the Middle East. Quote: – “The officer told me I was setting the Interrupter gear, for firing the machine gun through the propeller, wrong. I protested, but he ordered me to change it. At least he had the good grace to apologise when he came back with no blades on his propeller”.

I do have the medals of John Cameron Robertson, including the Canadian Memorial or Silver Cross, awarded to the next of kin of Canadian war dead. He was a Robertson (millers at Mid Mill) who emigrated to Toronto before WWI and was killed at Hooge Crater in 1916.

His brother William landed up in British Honduras logging mahogany before WWI. He came back and joined the Royal Naval Air Service during WWI and during WWII he took Honduran loggers across the Scotland to work the forests.

Another brother was jeweller and served in the Royal Flying Corps in WWI.

The Queen of Tonga


It might have been around 1953, or earlier, that the Queen of Tonga (which is 5000 km south west of Hawaii) was passing through Kintore to visit somewhere in the North East.

All the school kids were lined up at the edge of the pavement from the school almost to the square to wave to her as she passed by. She might well have been over the Queen's Coronation.

Thanks to Roger Summers for contributing this item.

The Heckler


Roger Summers is also searching for an old news paper cutting about "The Heckler".

"Once a year the town council had to sit up on the stage while the locals fired questions at them about their failings and wasting money etc," Roger explains. "It was standing room only and they could be very lively.

"It was called the heckler because everyone heckled one another!"

Kintore poem from the 1920s or 30s

Hae ye heard o' the latest, the terrible splore,
That took place in the Burgh o' Royal Kintore,
A nondescriptfunction was held in the hall,
The promoters described it a "Society Ball".

The hall was weel deckit wi curtains an' floors,
As neen was expected that'd ever been poor,
And grand Spoonatorium wi lounges for ease,
An' a carpet for gents gaen doon on their knees.

A beautiful evening, just the very thing,
The motors in dozens arrived in a ring.
Wi' widows an' mothers an' nieces an' aunts
An' men o' a ages dressed up tae the dunt.

Introductions were needless but still they were made
The "So pleased to meet you" were so sweetly said,
The ladies took stock o' each ithers goons,
Or what there was o' them, oh, my dinna froon.

The supper was served in Smiths own best style,
Hungry foilks werena winted, so it wisna worth while
Cooking dishes nae winted, on their hands they micht lie,
There wis little tae eat and ne'an tae lay bye.

The dancing next started, a very fine band
Served music the daintiest they could command,
For waltzes an' foxtrots an' new fashioned reels,
Made fowk rin aboot like half-witted eels.

The elite o' the place an' for thirty miles roon
Wis risket for partners tae come tae the toon.
There wis Smiths, Stills and Browns, an' three race o' Craigs
Bit ane wisna winted so gaed hame in a rage.

The "trades" an' "professions" a gota a chance
Tae come to the supper an' join in the dance
A few wis declined an' their reasons did state,
But fut wye did they miss oot Peter the Great.

An' Scrape hungry looking confessed to his wife
He never got sae little for 's siller in's life
An Liz fat an' brosy got varnish tae sheen
Her face till't resembled a double hairst meen.
An' Jemima The Ancient so sweetly paid toll
As she oxtert the bous in the swank hidie hole,
The sklavin wife Craig gaed the curtains a tug
Tae see if some feel wis on's knees on the rug.

And Chivas he coorted the matron foo weel
Atween you an' me he's rael like the deil
He couldna get danced cause he'd lost a glove,
Will some grey-haired widow find it for love?

And sweet Daisy tae dance joined wi some pairs
Nae kennin' that Sandy'd been drinkin upstairs,
When trying tae swing like the rest o' the fowk
Fell clyte on the fleer wi Sandy on top.

Rise up ye big sot, for I'm in a rage,
"I canna" said Sandy for I've nae ease o' my legs
O' dancing an' whisky I've had quite my fill,
I'm lying sae comfy, och Daisy lie still.

Come Sandy rise up for this winna dee,
It's nae ease said Sandy, so just lat me be,
But wi a big heave they got Sandy on's legs
And sweet Daisy fainted, nae winner my fegs.The time for goodbyes cam roon wi a shock,
The cars were brocht roon about twa o' the clock,
A neighbour woke up an' nudged his guid wife,
Did ever you see sic a soon in her life.

Tae the nois o' big sprees we never gie heed,
Bit that wis a soon wid wauken the deid
I'll see futs adee an' he jumped oot o' bed,
And opening the window he popped oot his head,

Fits adee said the wife I'm wintin tae ken,
It's a puckle drunk fowk carrying oot two big men,
I dinna ken fither ther living' or deid,
Bit they're pitten them inta a car for Boghead

The "Lady Promoters" nae sympathy got,
They provided the stuffie that made the men sots,
But their kind hospitality wis thrown in their faces,
The ball wis nae success, but a perfect disgrace.

Noo stranger if ever ye loose yer wye hame,
And come tae a place ye canna gie name,
If it happen tae be on the nicht o' a spree,
And the fowk a' drunk, YE'VE LAN'T IN KINTORE.

Andy Beattie - Scotland team footballer and manager

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Andy Beattie (Bob as he was known to his family) was born in the Forest Cottages, near Tom's Forest Quarries in Kintore.

He started his football career with Inverurie Loco Works, before moving to Preston Nothend. Roger Summers, whose wife is Andy's neice, takes up the story.

"He was a key player for Preston Northend and was capped many times. Later he became the first-ever Scotland Manager.

"He also had built for his parents the bungalow "Deepdale", which is the name of Preston's ground. It is the house on the right-hand side at the start of the Lang Stracht."

Lighting the Burgh of Kintore



George Wood has submitted the following information on street lighting in Kintore.

The following are extracts from the Minute Book of Kintore Burgh Council, courtesy of the Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archive at Old Aberdeen House and with thanks to the ever helpful Archive staff.

07.03.1879
The Council heard that estimates for lighting the Burgh were as follows: -

Cost of lantern and lamps (as per specification produced) £ -.7.6
Plain iron bracket for do and fixing to stonework £ -.7.6
Total cost for each lamp £ -.15.0

One dozen of above £ 9.0.0
Cleaning and lighting lamps £ 3.0.0
Paraffin oil £ 3.0.0
Estimate of annual expenditure £ 6.0.0

The Committee have ascertained that the cheaper mode of supporting the lanterns is by brackets inserted in holes bored in the stonework of the houses and would therefore recommend that method from its cheapness and safety.

07.10.1879
It was agreed to erect 12 lamps.

06.11.1879
Lighting funds have been procured and the lamps were in the course of erection. They would be in use at an early date.

17.05.1880
Mr Fraser reported that the actual cost of the lights had slightly exceeded the estimate and some discussion followed as to their efficiency, but as the Messers Shirras(1) had undertaken to remedy all defects before next season the accounts were ordered to be paid.

04.09.1880
Sufficient subscription for maintaining the lamps had not been forthcoming and the cost should be defrayed from the Burgh Funds. A committee was appointed to solicit and collect subscriptions.

07.10.1880
Treasurer Fraser submitted the amended account for the lighting of the Burgh during last winter, shewing (sic) a deficit of £1.6.2½, which were approved.
Expenditure 1879/80
12 street lanterns and tops @ 8/- £4.16.0
11 lamp brackets @ 7/6 £4. 2.6
2 larch posts @ 2/- £-. 4.0
Ladder £-. 5.0
£9. 9.6
Cost of paraffin £1. 3.2½
Lighting £3. 0.0
Glasses £-. 19.7
£5. 6.8½
Amount raised by subscription £4. -.6
Deficit £1. 6.2½


27.05.1881
On Treasurer Fraser reporting that the Lighting Funds collected did not amount to the sum required, owning to the great breakage of glass last winter, it was moved that the balance be taken from the Burgh Funds.
There is no report on what was causing all the glass breakage, could there have been vandals in Kintore in the 19th Century?

10.09.1881
Treasurer Fraser asked for instructions as to the lighting of the Burgh next winter. Mr Beaton moved that the Committee ascertain what Messers Shirras, from whom the present lanterns were purchased, will give for them and that new and serviceable ones be got. This was agreed to.

03.11.1881
The Provost read a letter from Messers Shirras & Son, quoting prices for new lanterns. He stated that the Committee thought the cost too great and recommended that the old lanterns be repaired.

That ended the recorded discussions on street lighting in Kintore, but on 28.09.1882 the Minute Book records that: -
“The Provost submitted communications from Companies desiring to supply the Burgh with Electric Lights. The meeting did not consider it necessary to make any answer meantime to these communications.”

The subject of electricity supply to Kintore would be a worthwhile topic for future research, as Kintore was reputed to be one of the first places to have a hydro-electric scheme. Who built it and owned it, I do not know, but the few remaining pieces of the scheme should be recorded before they disappear completely, much having been destroyed by the building of the bye-pass and the earlier in-fill of the Shirra Dam.


1 Wm. Shirras and Son. 40 and 44 Schoolhill, Aberdeen
Ironmongers, lamp manufacturers, purveyors of oils and copper, brass and tinplate workers.
Later known as Shirras Laing & Co., this firm had a large shop at 46-50 Schoolhill and workshops in Harriet Street. Many will remember this as where, in the 50s and 60s, you went to buy wedding presents in the glass, china and silverware department. The Buyer for the department at that time had a brother who, despite living in Aberdeen, worked as an upholsterer at Inverurie Loco Works and kept bee hives on Broomhill Farm at Kintore.

William Alexander Robertson


George Wood writes about ‘a Kintore Adventurer’.

Born 10th April 1879 at Mid Mill, Kintore
Died 29th March 1954 at Belize City.

William Alexander Robertson, Willie or Robbie, was the third child (of 8) born to George Robertson, a farmer (of 86 acres) and miller at Mid Mill, Kintore, and his wife Jessie Carnie.

By 1901 the family had moved to Mill of Leask, Slains, again farming and milling, but both George (1832-1913, b Kintore) and Jessie (1855-1923, b. Causeyton, Cluny) later retired to Yew Bank, Port Elphinestone, where George died in 1913. Jessie was still living at Yew Bank, but died at the Carnie family home of Broomhill, Kintore 10 years after George.

William is recorded in the 1891 census as a “horseman” at the family home of Mill of Leask, but after this he disappears from the “Scotlands People” records.

At some point before WWI he left home and started his adventuring, when, according to anecdotal family history, he went to London and joined John I. Thornycroft & Company at their shipyard in Chiswick, London. The yard specialised in building fast steam vessels, such as the first torpedo boat for the Royal Navy, H.M.S. Lightning in 1873. How his experience as a horseman from a Buchan farm fitted in with torpedo boats is not clear, but he must have gained some experience and found his niche, for he was sent with one of the yard’s products to British Honduras, then a British Colony in Central America and today the independent country of Belize.

Clearly the colonial life appealed, because instead of returning to Thornycroft, he stayed on in Honduras and entered the mahogany logging business. Prior to WWI he worked in the Vacca Falls area, close to the Guatemala border, scouting for new logging areas and spending long periods in the unexplored interior.

William Alexand Robertson
“Fusker” Willie in 1912

When WWI broke out he, in common with a lot of British subjects who spent their life in the Colonies, returned to Britain and enlisted in the Armed Forces for “Hostilities Only” service. In William’s case, he chose the Royal Navy and joined the fledgling Royal Naval Air Service on 6th July 1915 at H.M.S. President, the R.N.R. headquarters ship in London. He was given the immediate rank of Petty Officer and he was recorded as being 5’- 6¾”, with brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion, his occupation being listed as “Engineer”. In 1916 he was promoted Chief Petty Officer and served until the end of the War.

After his war service, William returned to Honduras and continued in the timber trade, latterly serving as Manager at the Mango Creek Lumber Camp owned by The Belize Estates Ltd.


Logging site in the 1930s
Logging site in the 1930s.

On the outbreak of WWII, William again wished to serve his Country, but at the age of 60 was too old for active service, so he brought a squad of his Honduran lumberjacks to Britain as part of the British Honduras Forestry Unit. The Hondurans, almost 900 of them in all, worked in Britain from 1942 until the end of the war, despite suffering somewhat from the climate and culture. They provided a service which, had they not volunteered, would have been sorely missed and were the subject of a 2004 documentary, “Tree Fellers”, shown on the BBC.

Once more he returned to his adopted land and the forestry trade, later adopting a local boy, Ness, as his son and on one occasion bringing Ness across to the UK to meet his Scottish relatives.

In March 1954, he was attacked by a Carib worker whom he had discharged from the lumber camp and he suffered stab wounds which penetrated his lung. Despite being flown from Mango Creek to Belize City, he died of his wounds the next day, Monday 29th March, and was buried in the Kirk Yard there. A memorial was later erected, but it is not known where, or if it is still standing.

William James Carnie


George Wood writes about William James Carnie.
Born 29th May 1896 at Broomhill, Kintore
Died 8th August 1918 in the region of Harbonnier


Service Nos. 79347, Private, Machine Gun Corps
201966, Gunner, Royal Tank Corps

Vis en Artois Memorial
© C.W.G.C.

VIS-EN ARTOIS MEMORIAL
Haucourt, France.
The Memorial behind the gravestones bears the names of 9000
British and Commonwealth servicemen with no known grave
who died between the 8th August 1918 and the Armistice.
William Carnie is commemorated on Panel 11.

William James Carnie “Willum” was born on the 29th May 1896, the first child of William Alexander Carnie (1860-1943), farmer at Broomhill, Kintore and his wife, Mary Wilson (1867-1951), who had married at the Bon Accord Hotel, Aberdeen on the 13th July 1895.

William had been destined to become a farmer and follow his father and grandfather on Broomhill, but the Great War intervened and his father encouraged him to enlist. No record of his initial enlistment survives, many of these having been destroyed in the WWII Blitz. The Machine Gun Corps, in which he did serve, was created by Royal Warrant on the 14th October 1915, so his enlistment may have been after this. I can find no earlier Army No. and he was not awarded the 1914-15 Star, so he cannot have been in France in the first year of the War.

Whatever his early service with the Machine Gun Corps involved is not clear, but he was re-drafted into the new companies of the Machine Gun Corps which were designated as the Heavy Section MGC and were formed to operate a new weapon, the Mk.1 tank, which entered service in September 1916. In November 1916, as the potential of tanks was recognised, these companies were expanded into battalions, eventually separating from the Machine Gun Corps in July 1917 and becoming the Tank Corps.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 16.58.35

In July 1917, William was at Bovington Camp, Dorset, today the headquarters of the armoured elements of the British Army and the home of the Tank Corps Museum. On the 21st July he sent a postcard to his Mother thanking her for “the tin box”, which will “suit A1”, but we don’t know what it was going to suit. Perhaps it was just for keeping his gear together. He goes on to tell her that, “I think I’ve passed for a driver all right, but we won’t know till we go on tank course”, and adding, “There is something in the wind right enough”. The postcard has five views of Wool, a village beside Bovington, and when I visited the area a few years ago I was able to identify four of the scenes. They had changed slightly, but William would still be able to recognise the places, even after a lapse of 90 years.

At this time, William would have been operating the large and slow tanks, the forerunners of today’s heavy armour, but this was to change when in March 1918 delivery of the “cavalry” tank, the Whippet, was started.

Luckily, others of William’s letters remain, although incomplete and damaged.

(Postcard dated 9th July 1917 from Lulworth Cove.)
“We arrived here after 2 hours sweating with full pack. Has my boots arrived”? (Is this the same situation as during the Falklands War, when soldiers had to buy their own boots to keep their feet dry?).

(Incomplete and undated) “getting leave right enough I think, but I don’t expect I’ll get it for a few months, maybe by March or thereabout, after all the rest have gone. Got father’s letter on Sunday and George’s on Monday and Peoples Journal as well, he is fairly getting up to writing”. (In 1917 his brother George would have been 8)
“Never mind sending cocoa. I bought a tin at the canteen and it will last for a while”.

(Sunday 6th Jan. 1918)
“… he says the drainer has not been altogether a success, but I think if this confounded war was finished I’ll beat the lot of them with a spade”.
“… but I am doubtful about good bits of ground on Broomhill. I wouldn’t be afraid of one working here, for the ground is as soft and there isn’t a stone to be found. I’ve been digging a lot of holes here”.
“… as a good few of the crew had to leave their busses as they got a knock from shells and I fear Fritz has got a few of them when he counter attacked.
I think the papers have made far more of that reverse than was true”.
“You were saying that the engine wasn’t working very well. Have you taken out the copper bars, they make the most difference for keeping up the heat”.

In a letter from France dated August 1918, to his brother John who was a Sergeant Armourer with 144 Squadron Royal Flying Corps in Egypt, he writes: -
“I just had a letter the other day saying that you had arrived at your destination (Aboukir). I expect that you are not sorry either, although no doubt you have seen a few sights on your way. We have been swinging it lately at the sea side well away from old Jerry, but we only have another day or two to go now. We’ve been training for new busses and guns. The same busses I told you of before”. (This was the 6 weeks training which crews got on the Whippet.)
“I was rather late on getting a start (on the course) as I had a week or two in the hospital with trench fever, or that flu’ I think it was (though the doctor called it trench fever). I hear you caught it as well”. (This would have been the precursor to the 1918 flu pandemic.)
“I expect you will be having it nice and warm with you, it is bad enough here”.
“by the time this reaches you we will have been instructing old Jerry a bit how to go back the way he came. He has been getting a pretty decent set back lately, the Yanks and French have been pretty hard on him”.
By the time John would have received this letter, William would already have died.

One of the things which would be incredible today was that, because the Tank Corps were Cavalry, the senior officers of which knew only horses, tanks had to carry fodder. So tanks went into battle carrying tins of petrol on their roof.

The WHIPPET Tank
Tank No. A344 “Musical Box”
“B” Company, 6th Battalion Tank Corps.
Crew: - Commander – Lt. C.B. Arnold
Driver – W.J. Carnie
Gunner – C. Ribbans.
Medium Mark A “Whippet” manufactured by William Foster & Co.. Ltd., Lincoln. Length 20’-0”, width 8’-6”, height 9’-0” and weight 15.7 tons. Solid suspension,
Armour 1/5” to 1/2” thick bolted to an angle iron frame.
2 x 4 cylinder Taylor petrol bus engines of 45h.p. one to each track. Speed 9 m.p.h.
2 Hotchkiss .303 air-cooled machine guns, sustained fire at 200 rounds/min, but in bursts up to 600 r/m. Each tank carried 5,400 rounds of ammunition.

At 04.20 a.m. on the 8th August 1918, the Battle of Amiens started. Whippet tanks of the 6th Battalion deployed in support of Australian and Canadian troops and advanced east, over the railway line and through the village of Villiers-Bretonneux. When I passed through there I noticed a café called “Le Kangourou”, presumably a tribute to the Australians who had re-captured the village from the Germans earlier in 1918 and who fought to the north of the town in this battle. The attack was an immediate success and the allied forces broke through the German line and pushed on.

Musical Box, due to its speed, became detached from other tanks and infantry early in the engagement and Lt. Arnold decided to act independently and harass any enemy he happened to find.

Broadcast by Colonel C.B. Arnold, 8th August 1940.
(The summary below is an edited version of the broadcast script)

I found our troops under fire from a 4 gun field battery, so I attacked across the front of the battery and then on its flank, killing about 30 Germans who had been manning the guns. About 10 a.m. some cavalry were being harassed by Germans in a field of corn, so “I dealt with them”. One of our patrols came under fire, so I ran “Musical Box” up and killed 4 or 5 of the enemy with one long burst, the others ran away.

I was young and it was very exciting, so we just kept following our targets. Really, we just went off to have a row with the Germans and none of us knew what the other was doing. There was no communication between the tanks, although we had a couple of carrier pigeons in a cage on top of the tank, but when I looked about midday, they were completely flattened by machine-gun fire. We were now well in among the Boche and came into a valley containing German hutments with the enemy packing up. I opened fire and others appeared from the huts, “we settled these”.

It was terribly hot inside Musical Box and German machine-gun fire had perforated the 9 tins of petrol, which was now running all over the cab and the fumes inside the tank obliged us to wear the breathing apparatus of our box respirators. Even so, we were all sick inside our masks.

At about 2 p.m., I decided that it wouldn’t be much good to go back among the people I’d knocked about so badly, so I again proceeded east. I’d already concluded that the only thing that could happen would be most unpleasant, but couldn’t even guess just how it would finish. Every time we were hit by a bullet or shell fragment, it fetched a bullet splash off the inside of the armour plate, small red-hot fragments which people got blinded by on occasions and after this expedition I was weeks picking the bits out of my skin, a most interesting pastime.

Now about 4 miles inside enemy territory, we were finally hit and set on fire. I tried to open the door, but failed on the first attempt due to the heat and the petrol running over my hands, but at the second attempt I fell out of the tank. I can’t say I was in a state of agony, but rather like taking ether and I’d just begun to float when the door gave.

We tried to get away, but the Germans closed in on us in a circle, firing all the time and Driver Carnie was killed. Finally, someone hit me over the head with the butt-end of a rifle, knocking me out and so put the closure on a rather exciting day.

Both Lt. Arnold and Gunner Ribbans survived, but spent the final months of the war in German Prison Camps.

William’s parents heard the broadcast by Colonel Arnold and corresponded with him after that.


William J Carnie
William Carnie’s body was never identified and he has no grave, only a mention on the memorial plaque in France and on the War Memorial Arch at Kintore Kirk.

He was awarded the Victory and British War Medals, but the whereabouts of these medals and the Next-of-Kin Memorial Plaque are not known.

After WWI, William’s place on the farm was taken by his younger brother George who continued to farm there until the farm was sold in the early 1960s.

John Carnie, after being demobbed from the Royal Flying Corps at the end of the war, returned to McKinnon in Spring Garden where he had served an engineering apprenticeship. Later, he was sent out to Africa to install machinery on a plantation in Kenya. The owner, a retired Colonel, invited John up to the “bungalow” for dinner and during the meal found out that John was William’s brother. It transpired that the Colonel had been Willaim’s commanding officer and for the rest of his time there John lived in style in the Bungalow.

The W.J. Carnie Memorial Medal
After the War, William’s family instituted the W.J. Carnie Memorial Medal, a silver and enamel medal presented annually to the Dux of Kintore Higher Grade Public School.

1953 medal
The 1953 medal which was still hall-marked silver.


Sometime later, the medal was changed to a book prize and finally lapsed when the fund became depleted.
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