I think it would be true to say that all churches in Scotland over 120 years old, from the largest in town to the smallest country church, will have within its walls or in its grounds a memorial to the dead of the 1914-18 war, with a smaller addition of those lost in the last world war.
The three large churches adjoining Byres Road were no exception. At the union of Belmont and Hillhead the Belmont memorial was moved to Hillhead Church and is situated round the Vestry door in that building.
The Kelvinside Memorial was not so adaptable. It could not be moved as it was part of the structure of the back wall. It was in a prime position. As you entered the church there it was facing you. It is still there, in what is now Oran Mor, but is now covered by a mural.
In addition, the peal of eight bells was installed in the Kelvinside tower as a memorial to the young men of Glasgow Academy and the Church lost in the 1st World War.
Why these memorials? No church escaped the loss of young men of their congregation. The Muster Roll of the then Kelvinside United Free Church records that 237 men and 22 women served with the fighting forces. Of these 31 laid down their lives. In addition many gave service as Volunteer Reserves.
In many cases there were more than one from a family. One, still with connection to Kelvinside Hillhead, had three boys and one girl serving – one of the boys being killed on the Somme aged 24yrs and buried in the war cemetery in Rouen. A full roll of honour can be found in the Memorial Books in the stand in the left alcove in the Kelvinside Hillhead building.
The memorial to those of Hilhead Church is on the wall of the chancel and there is of course the Teacher Window in memory of their son who was killed.
It is important that the names are on these memorials to remind us that those listed were people, young men and boys. They were sons, husbands, brothers and friends whose lives were cut short and did not have the joy of growing up.
‘They gave their tomorrow for our today’
– Rev Pat Lang
(This article was originally published in the Autumn 2016 issue of the Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church Magazine)