Young Scot’s war bravery marked with exhibition

A celebration of the bravery of a Scottish First World War hero is currently taking place.

Sergeant John Meikle was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the British Armed Forces’ highest award for outstanding feats of valour, in July 1918 in recognition of his bravery during bitter fighting in France during the Great War.

The 19-year-old, who was born in Freeland Place, Kirkintilloch was one of just 628 people to be awarded the Victoria Cross during the conflict.

An exhibition commemorating Sergeant Meikle has now gone on display at William Patrick Library in Kirkintilloch as part of the Council’s First World War centenary commemoration events.

The exhibition, which features a copy of Sgt Meikle’s Victoria Cross citation and other First World War memorabilia, will be on display in the lobby of the library until 26 July.

To mark the centenary of his death, the council is also holding a special ceremony in Kirkintilloch to honour his bravery. A memorial paving stone will be unveiled on Friday, 20 July, to mark the 100th anniversary of the action for which Sgt Meikle’s VC was awarded.

The ceremony will take place at Barleybank, next to St Mary’s Church, and will be attended by members of Sgt Meikle’s family, the Provost, councillors, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant and representatives from the four Scots Battalion. Boys’ Brigade Pipe Bands from Lenzie and Chryston will also be playing on the day.

Provost Alan Brown said: ‘John Meikle’s brave actions should never be forgotten and this exhibition and memorial will ensure his name and incredible actions will live on for future generations.

‘It has been fascinating to learn more about Sgt Meikle’s life and it is only right that we celebrate his achievements which also saw him awarded the Military Medal for bravery and leadership.

‘I would encourage people to get along to the William Patrick Library to find out more about his heroism and sacrifice.’

Sgt Meikle was born in Kirkintilloch on 11 September 1898. He had enlisted in February 1915, aged just 16, and was drafted into the 4th Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders.

He had already received the Military Medal for bravery and leadership for his actions near Langmarch before returning to France and earning a promotion to sergeant.

However, tragedy struck just months before the end of the First World War during the second Battle of the Marne. On 20 July 1918, Sgt Meikle was in the Ardre valley when he single-handedly rushed a machinegun nest which had held up his men.

Later, when again held up by another machinegun nest and after most of his platoon had become casualties, he seized a rifle and bayonet from a fallen comrade and again rushed forward regardless of his own safety.

Sadly, Sgt Meikle was killed when almost in the gun position but his brave action allowed two other men behind him to put the gun out of action. His heroics were soon recognised and he was soon to become one of the youngest Scottish recipients of the Victoria Cross and the only person of his battalion to be thus honoured during the First World War.