AN APPEAL FOR information on two Moray soldiers who left messages in a long-lost visitor’s book at Peterborough railway station 100 years ago has borne fruit.
Moray historian and writer Jill Stewart, who has been extensively involved in the ‘Moray’s War’ project, spotted the appeal on insideMoray last week.
That sought to locate information on a Private John Gault or Gauld from Lossiemouth and Gunner Jos Allan or Allen who may have been from Elgin, both of whom signed the visitors book at a rest station in Peterborough on their way to the World War I trenches.
The books had lain for many years untouched at a local library, and are now being researched by a local team of historians.
Jill undertook some research on behalf of her counterparts in Peterborough and uncovered information on the likely identities of the men – and uncovered a bonus from the online versions of the books published by the Peterborough researchers. Jill, who also writes regular features on the subject for the Northern Scot, said of the entry by ‘John Gauld’: “I would say the name is written as Gault (with a swirly ‘t’ at the end rather than a ‘d’).
“More importantly, the address of 1 King Street matches the address in the Morayshire Roll of Honour for John Gault who died in Ripon Military Hospital in May 1918.
“When I looked at the entry for Jos Allan I must admit that I thought it was James (Jas) Allan. I suspect that he did come from the Highlands but I can’t find anything on him in the Morayshire Roll of Honour or on Ancestry for that matter.
“I had understood from the piece in insideMoray that there was some belief that he came from Elgin, but I don’t see anything in the Visitors Book to bear that out.”
On studying the books online Jill did, however, come upon another entry of interest to Moray – that of George A Browse. She said: “The name of this soldier appears just above that of John Gault, with an address in Elgin.
“George survived the war, although his brother, serving in the AIF, was killed. I was really interested to see this as there is an interesting story about George, who was awarded the MC. He apparently was the model for the sculpture on the New Elgin war memorial.”
Jill is now sending on further information in the form of photographs and other information that she believes will be of use to the Peterborough project. She said: “It’s an interesting project – I am also involved in the Morays War project in Scotland (part of the wider Scotlands War project by the University of Edinburgh).
“The [Peterborough] rest room record is indeed interesting, and there may well be families who would love to see what their relatives wrote in the visitor’s book!”
The records from the rest facility at Peterborough have been published online at www.peterboroughww1.co.uk.