The Fife men who helped protect Fife during wartime - on their bikes

Ken at his great uncle's graveside  in Laventie Military Cemetery, French Flanders. Pics courtesy of Ken Tippen
Ken at his great uncle's graveside in Laventie Military Cemetery, French Flanders. Pics courtesy of Ken Tippen

David Storrar from Dysart was just 15 years-old when he joined the Highland Cyclist Battalion before the start of WW1.

The various cyclist battalions, named after their prefered mode of transport, were involved in protecting Fife’s coastline from enemy invaders.

David Storrar (lying front right) with members of the Highland Cyclist Battalion

David Storrar (lying front right) with members of the Highland Cyclist Battalion

David was one of many of his battalion who lost their lives in the trenches on the Western Front and now his great nephew Ken Tippen (57) from East Lothian is trying to find out more about the little known battalions in Fife.

And he is hoping that Press readers may be able to help him to give them the recognition they are due.

Before the war David was an apprentice tenter at James Normand & Sons’ linen factory in Dysart, which was a major employer in the area.

The Dysart teenager joined the unusual but little documented territorial unit in Kirkcaldy before he turned 16 and, as he was so young, he was given the task of company bugler. His battalion was based in Hunter Street drill hall in Kirkcaldy.

The Battalion on manoeuvres in Fife

The Battalion on manoeuvres in Fife

Ken has gathered several photos of the Highland Cyclist Battalion and one shows his great uncle and his battalion out on manoeuvres with their bikes. Ken is asking anyone if they can identify the place it was taken.

He told the Press: “After coastal defence duty around Fife during the early part of the war, the unit was split up in mid 1916 and attached to various regiments across Britain to make up losses suffered on the western front.

“A large contingent of around 150 was attached to the Royal Warwickshires, including my great uncle.

“He was in the trenches from May until his death in action in September 1916.

“I have his unit’s war diaries which give detailed, gripping information on what his unit did and saw – including taking part in the infamous Battle of Fromelles – a major disater especially for Australian troops.

“There are fascinating references to gas attacks, costly trench raids, tunnelling warfare and the routine of trench life and life in the rear areas.

“I also found a very moving newspaper article from the Press at the time entitled ‘Dysart Cyclist Killed’ which contains extracts from letters sent to his parents from his company commander and an NCO who was probably one of the original Kirkcaldy HCB men.

“This is a great story of Kirkcaldy boys, wearing colours of regiments from areas they had no connection to, caught up in a brutal war and the devastating effect it had on communities.

“I know Press readers will have relatives who served in the HCB and I am keen to share their stories and photos.”

Contact Ken at rememberinghcb@gmail.com.