THREE First World War heroes from Dumbarton and the Vale will be among those remembered next weekend when the area pauses for two minutes of remembrance, 100 years since the signing of the Armistice.

John Brown Hamilton, George Findlay and John Reginald Graham were awarded the Victoria Cross – the highest honour for military gallantry which can be bestowed on British and Commonwealth forces – for their exceptional bravery on three different battlefields.

John Hamilton’s heroics in the face of enemy fire came during one of the bloodiest episodes of the First World War.

The Battle of Passchendaele is notorious for the huge numbers killed when Allied and German forces clashed on the fields of Flanders in July 1917.

John, a Lance Corporal in the 1/9th Glasgow Highlanders Battalion, was 21 when he found himself in the thick of battle, with comrades falling on either side in a sea of mud and grime.

With the British front line forces under intense artillery fire, maintaining ammunition supply routes was difficult.

As supplies reached a dangerously low level, Lance Corporal Hamilton repeatedly carried ammunition through bursts of enemy fire to supply the front line soldiers.

And for that outstanding bravery, the former Dumbarton High pupil and Boys’ Brigade member was awarded the country’s highest honour - the Victoria Cross.

He died in 1973 in Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride and was cremated at Glasgow’s Daldowie Crematorium, where his ashes were scattered.

John was not the only one from the Dumbarton area who would be honoured for gallantry during the infamous battle near the Belgian town of Ypres.

Colonel George de Cardonnel Elmsall Findlay, from Balloch, was seven years older than John.

In June 1917 he was a captain in the 409th (Lowland) Field Company, Royal Engineers, Territorial Force and his actions at the Battle of Passchendaele saw him awarded the Military Cross and bar for gallantry.

And the following year, with the war in its final few days, he was awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty for action.

On November 4, 1918 Acting Major Findlay was leading bridging and assault parties during the forging of the Sambre-Oise Canal Lock near Catillon.

He was able to gather together a few men and repair the bridges whilst under constant fire.

George was wounded, but continued with the task until he was able to use the crossing again, being the first man across.

He remained serving in the Army until he retired in 1939.

In 1941, the then Colonel Findlay was elected to represent the Cardross and Craigendoran area on Dunbartonshire County Council and he served for 23 years in this capacity.

He also served as president of the Helensburgh branch of the British Legion for a number of years.

A memorial stone in his memory will be unveiled on November 4 in a ceremony at Drumfork House, Helensburgh, where he lived for more than 40 years until his death, aged 77, in 1967.

A son of Cardross is also remembered for the gallantry which earned him the Victoria Cross, although on another battle field.

Lieutenant Colonel John Reginald Noble Graham and served in the 9th Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in the Battle of Istabulat on April 22, 1917 – and exactly a hundred years later, a memorial stone was unveiled in his home village to pay permanent tribute.

Lt Graham was in command of a machine gun section attached to a battalion of infantry sepoys which came under heavy fire.

Although twice wounded, he continued during the advance and was able, with one gun, to return fire on the enemy who were massing for a counter-attack.

His valour and skilful handling of his guns held up a strong counter-attack which threatened to roll up the left flank of the Brigade, and averted what might have become a critical situation.

As towns and villages across West Dunbartonshire fall silent at the 11th hour on November 11, people will reflect on the bravery of men fighting for the freedom we enjoy today.

Remembrance Sunday this year will have special poignancy, for it marks 100 years since the end of the First World War.

As the 1914-18 conflict slips further into history, the wreath-laying services held throughout the area play an important part in ensuring the sacrifices are not forgotten. Many will think about the valiant roles of their grandparents and great grandparents who went to war.

The scale of WW1 casualties suffered by troops from Dumbarton, Clydebank and surrounding towns and villages was amply illustrated during a five-year research project conducted by West Dunbartonshire Council to update names for inclusion on Clydebank War memorial.

Bailie Denis Agnew, who was closely involved with the research involving the British War Graves Commission and Imperial War Museum, told the Reporter: “It was astonishing to see the numbers who had been killed during the First World War.

“In all, 1,100 were killed from the area during WW1, and that had a devastating effect on the towns and villages. Sadly, the young men who came back were physically and psychologically damaged by their experiences.

“We have a duty to let the relatives of those who died know their kin are being recognised as heroes, for there must have been thousands of acts of bravery that went unrecorded.”


Communities across every corner of West Dunbartonshire will fall silent on Remembrance Sunday in tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in war.

Services being held at war memorials will have special poignancy this year as it will be exactly 100 years since the end of the First World War.

The Remembrance Day tributes will take place at the following times and locations:


CLYDEBANK: Service in Clydebank town hall followed by wreath laying ceremony at memorial on Hall Street, Clydebank.

OLD KILPATRICK: Service at the cenotaph at Glen Lusset, Old Kilpatrick

DUMBARTON: Service at the cenotaph, Levengrove Park, Dumbarton


MILTON: Service at the war memorial in the schoolyard of the former Milton Primary School

HELENSBURGH: Service at the war memorial in Hermitage Park


BOWLING: Service at the war memorial in Bowling Park


DUNTOCHER: Service at the war memorial on Roman Road, Duntocher


ALEXANDRIA: Service at the cenotaph, Christie Park