Plaque Commemorating Carrick's Victoria Cross Holders
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Two Carrick holders of the Victoria Cross were remembered in a special drumhead service at Maybole’s Greenside - June 2007.

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 A plaque on the town’s main flagpole commemorating William James Montgomery Cuninghame VC (left) and Samuel McGaw VC (right) was unveiled by John McWhirter and Mary Davidson, descendants of Sgt McGaw. Branch secretary George Taylor laid a wreath at the foot of the flagpole which is a war memorial to the dead in two World Wars.


Maybole Pipe Band had led a parade from Crosne Street followed by branch standard bearers William Milligan and Robert Malone, members of the branch and the Women’s Section, Depute Lord Lieutenant Col George Hay, Provost Winifred Sloan, Cathy Jamieson MSP, South Ayrshire Councillors Brian Connolly, Ann Galbraith, Sandra Goldie, Mairi Low and Alex Oattes, Inspector Stuart Gaudin, members of Maybole Community Council, visitors from other branches and patients from Hollybush House.


The parade marched via Culzean Road to the Greenside where the pipe band drummers stacked their drums before the standards were draped over them.


Rev Dave Whiteman told those gathered that William James Montgomery Cuninghame VC was presented with his medal on 26th June 1857 in Hyde Park, London, when Her Majesty Queen Victoria held the very first investiture of the award.


Legion members had thought that it would be appropriate to mark the 150th anniversary of this with a special service and at the same time honour Samuel McGaw who was awarded his Victoria Cross on 18th April 1874 also by Queen Victoria.


After the plaque was unveiled the standards and drums were  collected and the parade marched via Ladyland Road and Whitehall for the salute taken by Col Hay at the Town Hall..


Presentation of two 50p pieces which carry a special souvenir of the 150th anniversary of the first VC awards

Reading at Maybole Green


Rev Whiteman also explained during the ceremony how the two men had earned the country’s highest award and he recounted their connection to Carrick.


William James Montgomery Cuninghame was born on 20th May 1834 in the parish of Maybole, the son of Sir Thomas Montgomery Cunninghhame and Charlotte Niven D Hutcheson.


Just prior to his 20th birthday he enlisted on 11th March 1853 as a Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own).


On 20th November 1854, while serving with his regiment during the Crimean War, he was ordered to attack several Russian rifle pits on rising ground which were really caves dug into the side of the hill.


The capture of the rifle pits was essential to the advance of the British troops and  during the night and for some time the following morning the Russians made repeated attempts to recapture the rifle pits.


The British party under the leadership of Lieutenant (Brevet Captain) Cuninghame and Lieutenant (Brevet Major) Bourchier held out against superior numbers until they were relieved by another party from their own regiment.


For their actions during the initial attack and the subsequent defence of the rifle pits against superior forces, Lieutenant Bourchier and Cuninghame were awarded the VC.


Lieutenant Cuninghame VC eventually attained the rank of Colonel and in 1874 he retired from the army. He continued to reside with his family at Glenmoor House which he later renamed Kirkbride House. He served as MP for Ayr from 1874 to 1880 and died on 11th November 1897. He was buried in the family plot in Kirkmichael Churchyard on 17th November 1897.


Samuel McGaw was awarded his Victoria Cross for action at the Battle of Amoaful. On 18th April 1874 he was presented with his award by Her Majesty Queen Victoria at Osborne Castle, Isle of Wight.


He was born in 1837 in Kirkmichael, the eldest son of William McGaw and his wife Sarah Thomson. Aged 20, on 15th August 1857 Samuel enlisted in the 42nd Royal Highlanders. On 12th September 1861 the name "Black Watch" was added to the Regiment's title.


The King of Ashanti (Ghana) sent his troops in 1873 to attack the friendly tribes of the British Protectorate of the Gold Coast where very few British troops were stationed. Urgent reinforcements were required and amongst these were the 42nd Highlanders. The Black Watch sailed from Portsmouth on 3rd December 1873, arriving in the Gold Coast ten days before Christmas.


Soon after the New Year they set off for Coomassie (Kumasi) the capital of Ashanti 150 miles inland. During their advance the main action of the campaign was at the Ashanti town of Amoaful where Lance Sergeant McGaw although severely wounded early in the initial attack led his section through the dense thorny bush and engaged the enemy several times during the day. For his conduct throughout the battle Samuel McGaw was later awarded the Victoria Cross, one of four awarded during the Ashanti Campaign.


Samuel was posted overseas to Malta on 14th November 1874. From Malta the Regiment moved to Cyprus where they disembarked at Larnaca on 22nd July 1878, and set off for Camp Chiflik Pasha that same day. Whilst on the march to the camp Sergeant McGaw died of heat stroke. He was buried close to where he had died and a wooden marker was set up to mark the spot.


Some three years later, the Commissioner of Kyrenia, Colonel Scott Stevenson formerly of the Black Watch, learned that the Greek farmer who owned the land on which Sergeant McGaw was buried , had removed the wooden grave marker and had ploughed the land over the grave. Colonel Stevenson traced the site of the grave, exhumed the remains and placed them in a coffin which was taken to Kyrenia where, covered with a Union Flag and carried by six Turkish Zaptiehs, it was reburied in the English Cemetery. After the funeral Mrs Scott Stevenson decorated the grave with wreaths of passion flowers and jasmine. The grave was then marked with an ancient sarcophagus and is alongside the graves of other members of the Regiment who died in the campaign.