New chapter in history of Earlston’s fallen

Earlston A Brief History. Tanks in Square.
Earlston A Brief History. Tanks in Square.

EARLSTON war memorial bears the names of 49 local men who died in the First World War and seven who perished during the Second World War.

Their stories and what happened to them are a major part of a new book about the village, written by former Earlston High School history teacher John Smith – known better over the course of his 30-year career as J. D. Smith.

Earlston Book Cover.

Earlston Book Cover.

Printed by Richardson & Son in Hawick, Earlston: A Brief History is a softback of 101 pages. It contains many historical photographs and is split into three sections.

The first is an examination of events that affected the village, plus descriptions of eminent people who were born locally.

The second section is a “walk” round the village examining interesting buildings and it is the third part that deals with those whose names are inscribed on the local war memorial.

This is a revised edition of the book for this second print run of 100 copies. Mr Smith says he first compiled the history because he felt there was a gap in the available literature on Earlston, with the last publication being produced during the 1930s.

Earlston book author, John Smith.

Earlston book author, John Smith.

“I thought it needed a new book on Earlston – I wouldn’t have done it otherwise,” Mr Smith told TheSouthern. “I did a revised edition because I had obtained some new information which I thought should be included.”

Mr Smith said it was his curiosity about the people who had made Earlston that had sparked the idea of a book: “Who were these people? Are there any of their descendants still living today? What about those who emigrated – what did they go on to do in their new countries?”

He went on: “I had accumulated a lot of old photographs and wanted to know about the people in them. It even meant a number of phone calls to Canada to track down information. I am pleased with the way the book looks and hope people will like it.”

Mr Smith is also the author of a book about Jedburgh war memorial – Jedburgh’s Wartime Sacrifice – which is still available and examines what happened to those whose names are inscribed on that monument.

“The men on all of these memorials deserve to be remembered and this was my way of helping to do that,” he added.

Mr Smith’s new book comes out this week, just two days after July 12 – Gallipoli Day – when wreaths were laid at the war memorial in Hawick to commemorate a tragic day in Borders history.

On July 12, 1915, more than 300 officers and men of the 1/4th (Borders) Battalion of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers were killed and more than 200 wounded in a single action on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

The episode is recounted in Mr Smith’s book, including details of the six local men who were killed in the campaign in the Dardanelles.

z Earlston: A Brief History is in local shops today, priced £5.