I've been trying to research James Govans, born in 1898 to James and Hannah Govans from Crookedholm, my great grandmother, Grace Galloway's nephew after I came across a Military Record from WW1 for a James Govans from Hurlford. The story gripped me. He died on 29 July 1915 in Flanders, France. A lance corporal of the 6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, warrant no. 11182, and he was killed in action.
The record didn't give a date of birth but did say he was from Hurlford. James and Hannah's son is the right age to have signed up for the Great War and he is the only James in the Govans family that I can find from Hurlford at that time, not enough proof yet, but I am inching towards it.
While researching, I came across the Scottish War Memorial Project, the work of the Scottish Military Research Group. Part of their work is to photograph and catalogue war memorials across Scotland. One of the entries is the War Memorial in Crookedholm that I have walked and driven past for the past fifty years. Looking carefully at the photographs listing the fallen in both world wars, clearly listed are three Govans boys; James, John and Henry. Cousins? Quite possibly.
John and Henry Govans are the sons of Robert and Isabella (Strachan) Govans. John was born in 1895 and Henry in 1893.
The 6th Batallion were mobilised for war on the 11th May 1915 and landed at Boulogne and began their engagement in much of the action on the Western Front.
James Govans killed in 1915 is buried at Pont-du-Hern Millitary Cemetry, La Gorgue, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, plot VI.E.26, he was only seventeen when he was killed in action in Flanders.
Pont-du-Hem is a hamlet situated on the main road from La Bassee to Estaires, approximately 30 kilometres west of Lille.
The Cemetery was begun in an apple-orchard in July 1915 and used until April 1918 by Commonwealth fighting units and Field Ambulances; these original burials are in Plots I, II and III, and Rows A and B of Plot IV. Pont-du- Hem was taken by the Germans in April 1918 and held by them until mid- September. In April and May, 1918, German burials were made in Plots III and IV. After the Armistice, 426 German graves were removed to other cemeteries; Portuguese graves of 1917- 1918 were removed to the Portuguese cemetery of Richebourg-L'Avoue; and British graves were brought in from a number of smaller burial grounds and from the battlefields in the surrounding area.
There are now over 1500 World War I casualties commemorated at this site. Of these, over half are unidentified and special memorials are erected to nine soldiers from the United Kingdom believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials record the names of 44 soldiers from the United Kingdom, two from Canada, two from Australia and one of the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry, buried in this or other cemeteries, whose graves were destroyed by shell fire, and of five Indian soldiers whose bodies were cremated. The cemetery covers an area of 6,433 square metres.