The Roll Rediscovered
The disappointment engendered by the discovery of the ruined Roll of Honour within the War Memorial in June 2019 did not deter the Govan Reminiscence Group. The Govan Press account of the unveiling of the War memorial explicitly stated that “Each member of the war Memorial Committee…has received a duplicate copy of the roll, bound in blue cloth boards, the gift of ex-Bailie James Whitehead J.P.” This being so, the potential existed for examples of these duplicates to have survived, though tracking them down seemed unlikely to be straightforward.
The approach adopted was to try to locate living descendants of the War Memorial Committee, working systematically through the list of committee members names. An early target was William Munro, Vice Chair of the Committee and a distinguished former elected representative for Govan. Using the Ancestry.co.uk website as a means to reach anyone with a relative called William Munro, contact was made with Sheila Lawson. The question was asked: “Do you know anything about the Roll of Honour?”. The answer, received on 12th July 2019, was: “Is this what you are looking for?”, complete with two images: one showing the blue cover of the duplicate Roll of Honour, the other the first page of the names of the fallen servicemen of Govan. The Roll of Honour transpired to have been found along with an order of service, newspaper clippings about the unveiling, a photo of the casket and some Munro family photographs.
This remarkable discovery was rendered even more remarkable by the fact that Sheila Lawson was not related to William Munro and had in fact discovered the roll of honour on top of a crumbling barn wall on a croft named Tokavaig on the Isle of Skye, to which Sheila had moved in 2016. Deeming the discovery too important to throw out, Sheila did her own research into the origins of this cache of documents and discovered that William Munro’s daughter Williamina had married a crofter from Skye named Malcolm Morrison in Govan in 1933. Malcolm Morrison had been the owner of Tokavaig since 1932.
The Names on the Roll of Honour
The Roll of Honour runs to 18 foolscap pages and contains 1122 names, though it is clear that the identification of Govan service personnel eligible for inclusion was an ongoing process, right up to the publication of the list. The last two pages are supplements, containing 43 names, added to the 1079 names on the original sixteen-page document. The Govan Reminiscence Group has now established not only that a number of the names on the roll are duplicated but also that the names of a great many more men (and women) of Govan who died in the Great War are omitted from the Roll of Honour, so that the real total should be over 2000 names. Just a few of those people omitted from the Roll of Honour are commemorated in Their Stories III & IV.
Front cover of William Munros' Roll of Honour, the blue cloth binding for all Rolls given to Committee were provided by William Munro who was a Bookbinder .