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Books shine spotlight on history of Buckie indoor war memorials

By Alan Beresford

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THE history of five local war memorials have been immortalised in print thanks to a Buckie historian.

Buckie historian David Fowler with his set of books on local indoor war memorials. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Buckie historian David Fowler with his set of books on local indoor war memorials. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

David Fowler has just finished a five-book set looking at the indoor war memorials at number of Buckie churches where the lives of almost 300 fallen are honoured.

His journey started at the North Church before expanding to take in the memorials at the South and West, St Peter’s, Rathven and Lodge Gordon’s 589.

Inspiration for the project was to come from some of the ladies at the North Church.

Mr Fowler said: “The Women’s Guild at the North Church initially approached me to do something for them as part of their World War I commemorations and then again later for their World War II commemorations.

“The church has an indoor war memorial and I thought I could use some of the material from my book on war memorials in the area which was published in 2017.

“I reworked the relevant material and they were very happy with it.

“There was quite a lot of material – about 250 pages – and someone said to me ‘Why don’t you do a book?’.”

With the seed firmly planted, Mr Fowler’s efforts saw him plough full steam ahead on the project.

His net was to expand to cover the other four indoor memorial sites in the Buckie area that his researches have made him aware of.

The North Church has three memorials to its war dead – one for those who perished in World War I and two for those who fell in World War II.

Over at the South and West Church there are no fewer than four, the South Church originally having two which then doubled when it amalgamated with the West Church.

Rathven Parish Church has two memorials, one each for the World Wars.

St Peter’s and Lodge Gordon’s each have one apiece.

Together, the indoor memorials pay homage to some 295 men, with the North Church memorial charting the single largest loss of life at 152.

The timing of the project was to prove fortuitous for Mr Fowler.

He explained: “I did most of the work during the lockdown last year.

“I had nothing else to do, really, so I was grateful for it.

“Unfortunately I wasn’t able to use my usual printer so I had to look around for one.

"The books came back from the printer at the end of January.”

The books are to be presented to the churches and Lodge Gordon’s 589.

Mr Fowler is no stranger to the world of books on a number of local history subjects.

Buckie and District War Memorial: Banffshire’s Fallen Remembered was to provide much of the source material for his latest endeavours and, among other works, he has penned books on the subject of local tee-names (nicknames) and trade advertisements from Portgordon to Cullen in days gone by.

He added: “I enjoyed doing the indoor war memorial books but I think that’s going to be the last of the books, I can’t see myself doing any more.”

During the years of the centenary of World War I Mr Fowler also highlighted the stories of many of the local men who perished, opening a door on a very different age.

The indoor war memorials first sprang up mainly after World War I, with a lot of the outdoor memorials not being built until into the 1920s – April 1925 in the case of Buckie.

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