Highlands & Islands

Book records tales of WW1 brothers from Sutherland

Cameron brothers Image copyright Shona MacLeod
Image caption Brothers Hugh, Tom and John Cameron

The fates of two sets of brothers from the Highlands in World War One have been told in a new book co-written by one of the men's great-granddaughters.

John-Hugh and Adam MacKintosh and Tom, Hugh and John Cameron left crofting communities in Sutherland to fight in France.

Only Adam and Tom survived the war, but returned home badly wounded.

The men's letters and journals helped Adam's relative Shona MacLeod to write the book with Dr Robin Reid.

Image copyright Heather MacLeod
Image caption The Cameron family were from Craggie in the Strath of Kildonan
Image copyright Shona MacLeod
Image caption Adam MacKintosh

The MacKintosh family were from Helmsdale and the Camerons from Craggie in the Strath of Kildonan just outside Helmsdale.

A retired doctor with a long-standing interest in history, Dr Reid traced the brothers' journey from the Highlands to the trenches of France by researching written material, including the Regimental Diary of the 1st Battalion of the 5th Seaforths and the History of the 51st Highland Division.

The men's personal items, including a diary Adam wrote while a prisoner of war, were in a box kept by Adam's wife, Daisy.

Daisy was the sister of John Cameron, who died saving Adam's life at Beaumont-Hamel, a fortified village that was the scene of ferocious fighting.

'Uncensored account'

Image copyright Shona MacLeod
Image caption An extract from Adam MacKintosh's prisoner of war diary

Ms MacLeod, who studied history at the University of Glasgow, said: "As all these men are related to me, following their journeys was an enormously humbling experience.

"In their letters home from the trenches they would even ask how the harvest was coming on 'with men and horses so scarce'.

"Of the five, only two, Adam and Tom, returned from the war, and both had been badly wounded with injuries which affected the rest of their lives.

"The three others, John and Hugh Cameron and John-Hugh McIntosh, all died in France."

Image copyright Shona MacLeod
Image caption A photograph of Adam and Daisy's wedding day

She added: "While the sources have huge personal value, they also have significant historical value, because of what they reveal about Scotland's relationship with the Great War.

"Narratives of prisoner of war accounts are rare before the Second World War.

"My great-grandfather's POW diary is a valuable source not only because of its rarity but because, unlike other sources such as letters and post cards, it gives an uncensored account of his eight months as a prisoner and, unlike memoirs, it was written at the time."

Stories in the book, The Permanence of the Young Men - Five Seaforth Highlanders, include Adam being shot in the war and the bullet remaining lodged in his head until the day he died.

Image copyright Heather MacLeod
Image caption Shona MacLeod worked on the book with history enthusiast Dr Robin Reid

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