Through their Next of Kin exhibition Low Parks Museum will explore the poignant story of an officer who was killed during the Christmas period and his brother who searched for details surrounding his death.
Low Parks Museum in Hamilton displays the regimental collection of The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and so the personal effects of an Officer who served and died with this regiment was the natural starting point for their First World War family story.
James Lusk was a grandson of David Colville, founder of the famous Lanarkshire iron and steel company David Colville & Sons. Working as a director in the family business, James was also an officer in the 6th Battalion Scottish Rifles of the Territorial Force. At the outbreak of war, James mobilised with his battalion and went to France in March 1915.
A popular officer, James was wounded on Christmas Day 1915 while handing out cigarettes to his men. A telegram was sent to his brother David by his mother on 29 December 1915, informing him that James has been wounded but not seriously injured. Unfortunately this was not the case and James had actually died the same day the telegram was sent.
David was determined to find out exactly how his brother had died and so wrote extensively to James’s officer’s servant Private Isaac Devon and the doctors and nurses who had cared for him. One letter from Private Devon states, “I will never forget him…he was the best officer in the Regiment.”
David, who was Presbyterian Minister of Oxford University, was appointed Chaplain to the Forces in August 1916 and went on to serve on the Western Front. He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry on two separate occasions.
David kept a collection of objects to remember his brother by, including his dog tags and a poignant letter sent by James from the front line. In it James congratulates David on the birth of his son and says, “I hope he won’t be a Soldier when he grows up, but perhaps if we do our part properly there will not be much need for soldiers in his generation”. Sadly David’s son was killed in action during the Second World War.
David and James Lusk are one of a number of First World War stories on display in Next of Kin at Low Parks Museum, opening on 24 December 2015. You can find out more about the exhibition and a busy programme of associated events by visiting the Next of Kin website.