Their Stories I
Some notable Govanites on Roll of Honour
Staff-Surgeon William George Barras
A medical doctor, born 30 March 1868 in Govan. Son of Govan doctor James Barras, William was also to become Deputy Medical Officer, Police Casualty Surgeon & Bacteriologist to Govan as well as a physician at Elder Hospital. A member of the Royal Navy Volunteer reserve, he became staff surgeon when hostilities broke out and served in the Dardanelles campaign and in The Battle of Jutland. William was killed on 9th July 1917 onboard the HMS Vanguard when it blew up in Scapa Flow with the loss of all but two of its crew. Only 22 bodies out of the 843 killed were recovered and the wreck was eventually given legal protection as an official war grave in 1984. Today William Barras is perhaps best remembered for his map depicting The Village of Govan in 1837, which he drew up in 1906.
Private James Chaplin
A medical student at Glasgow University, born in 1899 in Govan, James was the son of a Provision Merchant and attended Govan High School. In 1916 he took the first of his courses at GU but, despite having the ability to apply for study exemption, he enlisted as a private in the 14th Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry. He died at Arras on 27th March 1918. He was 19 years old.
Second Lieutenant Andrew Russell Jeff
A civil servant with the board of agriculture in Edinburgh, Andrew was born in Coatbridge in 1898 to celebrated Govanites Mary Russell Watson and Andrew Jeff of 59 Greenhead Drive and later 17 George Drive, Govan. Both parents played key roles in the Govan Rent Strikes, Andrew as Chair of the South Govan Tenants Committee and Mary as one of a group of women who campaigned against evictions and orchestrated defence against the bailiffs. Mary was also the chair of the Ladies Section of the Govan War Memorial Committee. Commissioned in January 1916 with the 12th Highland Light Infantry, Andrew was killed in action on 13th August 1916 and is buried at Villers-Brettonneux Cemetery on the Somme.
Warrent Engineer Peter Fisken
Born in Liverpool in 1867, Peter’s parents returned to Glasgow and settled in Govan when he was a young child. A Warrant Engineer with the Royal Naval Reserves since 1905, Peter took part in the quelling of the Singapore Mutiny at the start of the war. In 1916 Peter was aboard HMS Hampshire on its voyage to Russia with Minister of War Lord Kitchener when it struck a German mine and sank. 643 of the 655 crew, including Peter, were lost, drowned or died of exposure. He is buried at Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery on Mainland Orkney.