The 9th Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers (Stonehouse Detachment)
When writing of the war years in ‘Wha’s like us?’, I briefly mentioned the local volunteer battalion, to which Stonehouse was associated. Since then I have further researched the background of this battalion and what became of it.
Apart from a dozen or so extracts from the Hamilton Advertiser between 1888 and 1893, I could find no other evidence of the 9th L.R.V., until, by chance one Summers afternoon in 1998, I found myself looking at memoribilia of the said battalion in the Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow.
The formation of a volunteer force was the result of the growing threat of a French invasion in the mid 19th century. Thus in May 1859 the government gave authorisation to raise a volunteer force. The intention of such was to establish a force comprised of rural or small town companies, serving as auxiliaries to the regimental army and militia. The majority of men were of the Infantry Corps but there were also units of artillery, light horse, mounted rifles and engineers.
The only call to active service abroad for the volunteer force was during the Boer War (1898-1902), when 96 members of the
battalion served in South Africa.
The battalion originates from the 8th Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers, which were formed on December 9th 1860, composed of the 37th (Lesmahagow), 55th (Lanark), 94th (Douglas) and the 73rd (Carluke) Corps; of which Stonehouse had a detachment. The 73rd (Carluke) Corps were accepted into the services on March 12th 1860. The uniform of the 73rd was Elcho grey tunics and knickerbockers, with scarlet piping and scarlet and black Austrian knots, small grey shakos with a blackcock’s tail on the left side, scarlet piping, bugle and crown badge, yellow leather leggings and brown belts.
In March 1861 the battalion became the 3rd Administrative Battalion Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers, with headquarters at Lanark. Locally the battalion was also known as the “Upper Ward Battalion”. In 1862 the battalion adopted a scarlet tunic with blue facings and white Austrian knot, blue trousers with red piping, blue shakos with red piping and black ball-tuft and brown belts.
In 1863 the 62nd (Biggar) Corps were revived and added to the battalion, as was the 107th (Leadhills) Corps in 1872, bringing the number of companies in the battalion to six. In 1880 the battalion was consolidated as the 37th Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers briefly before it was renumbered as the 9th Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers in June of the same year. The companies were identified by affixing a letter; Carluke (late 73rd) became ‘D’ Company. In the same year blue helmets replaced the shakos, white belts replaced brown, the tunic was replaced by a red serge frock with blue collar, red cuffs and white Austrian knot.
The 9th L.R.V. joined the Highland Light Infantry as a volunteer battalion in 1881, serving as the 4th H.L.I., though they did not give up their rifle volunteer corps title. In 1883 the rifle volunteers adopted the scarlet doublet with yellow facings and Mackenzie tartan trews of the H.L.I., with black leggings. In this year the 9th L.R.V. was said to number 607 in the battalion. The helmet was retained until 1904, when it was replaced by the diced shakos of the H.L.I. for officers and a glengarry for other ranks. In 1908 the 9th L.R.V. became the 8th Battalion Highland Light Infantry. In 1916 the 8th H.L.I. had insufficient numbers for service overseas as a battalion and thus were disbanded with the men being inter posted between the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and the Royal Scots, in which many men of Stonehouse served during the first world war.
The first record of the Stonehouse detachment of ‘D’ Company (Carluke) dates to July 1888, though it is not clear when Stonehouse first became associated with the said company. The article stated that the Stonehouse detachment under Private George Gray, won first prizes for the cleanest and best kept tent during an encampment training exercise. Private Gray is said to have been carried shoulder high, round the tent by some old sergeants of the company for his efforts.
In 1883 the company rifle range was at Badshaw Muir (900 yards). However, from June 1889 many rifle competitions were evident at the Holm range on the Avon, at distances of 200, 500 and 600 yards. The Officers’ Challenge Shield was one such competition. Held monthly, usually consisting of seven rounds at each distance, several Stonehouse men made their mark, so to speak, as able exponents throughout the country. Locally Sergeant William Millar, Lance Corporal T. Summers, Corporal Morrison, Corporal Inglis, Private James Harvie, Sergeant A. Hamilton, Private John Brown and Private John Gillies proved to be among the most competitive marksmen.
In 1890 the Stonehouse detachment mustered at the Town Hall for the Volunteers Church Parade. From here they marched to the United Presbyterian Church to hear a sermon by Rev. Henry Angus Paterson, who was later to become a strong opposer of the Boer War in which the 9th L.R.V. fought. The men were later marched back to the Town Hall before being dismissed. The following year the parade marched to the Established Church, where Rev. J. Wyper Wilson conducted the service. The company was said to number 47 men, under the command of Lieutenant Smith.
In April 1892 ‘D’ (Carluke) Company was reformed as ‘G’ Company 9th L.R.V. It was stated that Lieutenant J.B. Paterson was in command of the company, replacing Lieutenant Smith who was removed to Glasgow. Lieutenant Paterson was promoted to the rank of Captain only five months later. In April 1894, drill instructor, Sergeant Dick of ‘G’ Company commanded the Boys’ Brigade when it was established by Rev. Wyper Wilson.
The following officers gained the distinction of commanding the battalion: 1860 Major James T. Brown
1862 Major Hugh Mossman
1872 Major James Stevenson Hamilton
1875 Lieutenant Colonel J. Stevenson Hamilton
1905-1908 Lieutenant Colonel W. Bertram
Two Stonehouse men are said to have been attached to a much early battalion of the Rifle Volunteers under the command of Captain Vere; John Mutter (Farmer) of Walston and William Wilson (Shoemaker) of Stonehouse village.
The last record of the 9th L.R.V. in association with Stonehouse dates to July 1898, when an article from the Hamilton Advertiser stated that five pipers and four drummers of the 9th L.R.V. pipe band, Carluke, led a parade from the U.P. Church to St. Laurence Farm for a Sabbath School trip.
It would appear that ‘G’ Company disbanded in 1908 when the Stonehouse detachment became incorporated into the 8th H.L.I. Battalion of which several Stonehouse servicemen were styled of the ‘Stonehouse Section’. An extract from the Hamilton Advertiser suggests they were stationed at Dunoon but it is more likely they were stationed at the Clyde Garrison based at Fort Matilda at Greenock. Men recorded as serving in the 8th Highland Light Infantry included; Private Edward Clark (Townhead Street), Private W. S. Thompson (King Street), Corporal James Welsh and Private Fredrick Cross (Queen Street) who was killed in action in December 1914 during the first world war. It was said Private Cross bore the distinction of being the first man of the 8th H.L.I. to fire a shot at a German.
A complete record of all our men who served during the first world war is available from the Heritage Group, providing details of the individuals concerned including, their address, rank, name of regiment(s), regiment number, date of enlistment, marital status, dates of wounds, deaths and imprisonments and military awards. This information was compiled by researching newspaper extracts, enlistment records, war memorials and personal recollections of family and friends. An interesting point of note here, was the existence of an earlier memorial to the fallen of the first world war on the banks of the Avon near the former bandstand here.
This fascinating area of Stonehouse’s history reveals a village united in defending our freedom and rights and united in supporting one anothers great losses in human lifes whilst fighting for such principles. Much more information on the 9th L.R.V. remains to be uncovered, but what we can evidence is the comradeship, discipline and pride in our local volunteers and regulars representing our village and country.