Thursday, 20 January 2011

The schoolmaster's son

Hector Bruce was head master of Cromore School in the Pairc area of Lewis from 1902 until 1918. He had seven children with his wife Margaret (nee Anderson), whom he had married at Golspie on 12 October 1888.
One of their sons, William, was born at Dalarossie Schoolhouse, near Inverness, on 14 June 1888.

After growing up, William emigrated to Canada and worked as a banker at the Head Office of the Union Bank of Canada in Winnipeg from 1908 until 1915. His military service record quotes his Canadian address as Plenty, Saskatchewan; which is nearly 600 miles west of Winnipeg.

William had enrolled in the Saskatchewan Regimental Depot, but was seconded to the Royal Air Force on 12 October 1917, and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 17 February 1918.

On 19 May of the same year, he left the aerodrome at Andover, England, for France. After proceeding for 50 miles, he was forced to land due to engine problems. When it had been repaired, he again started off on 25 May, and since then no further information concerning him was received.

William is marked as buried at the Commercy French National Cemetery, as the sole Commonwealth casualty. I presume he was found later, and interred at Commercy.

I am now able to complete William Bruce's record on Faces from the Lewis War Memorial as follows:

Last address in Lewis: 28 Cromore,
Son of Mr and Mrs Hector Bruce, of 31 Bridge Street, Inverness
Service unit: 104 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Date of death: 25 May 1918 at the age of 28
Went missing whilst flying from England to France
Interred: Commercy French National Cemetery, North West part
Local memorial: Park, Kershader

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