WWI soldier gets his hero’s headstone

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A First World War soldier from Hobkirk who died from tuberculosis after being discharged from the army is being awarded a Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) headstone.

Private Alexander Ponton, of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, is buried at Hobkirk Parish Church, but was never given a commission headstone or named on the Roll of Honour when he died, as authorities at the time failed to report his death to the CWGC.

Alexander, aged 30, contracted tuberculosis during the war and died from it on October 14, 1916 after he was discharged. He was born in Hawick in 1886, son of George and Susan Ponton, Templehall, Hobkirk. Before enlisting, Alexander was a rural post boy and then an under gamekeeper/rabbit catcher, and lived at Templehall prior to enlistment at Jedburgh in October 1914.

He was a Private with the 1st/4th Battalion of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers with service number 7023 and transferred to 12th Provisional Battalion in May 1915. He was discharged on medical grounds six months later; and buried on October 17, 1916. But now, in a special service on Thursday, September 28 at 2.30opm, which will be conducted by Reverend Douglas Nicol at Alexander’s graveside, he will finally be given his due as a war hero.

Regional coordinator for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Patricia Keppie, said: “We are always honoured to be able to remember those who lost their lives during both world wars, and Alexander is no different.

“Despite him dying due to an illness he contracted during his active service, the CWGC were not informed of his death and were unable to pay a fitting tribute to his bravery with a commission headstone and his name on the roll of honour.

“This has now been rectified with many thanks to the In From the Cold Project, who brought Alexander’s case to our attention. As an organisation that commemorates the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in both world wars, it’s been an absolute honour to recognise Alexander and to know that people who come to this cemetery will also have the chance to remember him for his bravery and dedication to our country.”