Searching for the family of a Raith Rovers war hero

Raith Rovers vice-captain, George McLay, signing his enlistment papers for McCraes Battalion in the Tynecastle boardroom
Raith Rovers vice-captain, George McLay, signing his enlistment papers for McCraes Battalion in the Tynecastle boardroom

A World War One hero has been named as the first inductee for this year’s Raith Rovers Hall of Fame.

George McLay was one of three members of the team who made the ultimate sacrifice when they signed up to fight for their country a century ago.

Now the Hall of Fame committee will honour its pledge by paying homage to the third of the trio on the 100th anniversary of his death.

Committee member Alistair Cameron said: “We inducted Jimmy Todd and Jimmy Scott last year, who were amongst the first to be killed in 1916.

“George died in October 1917.

“We really want to track down his family. We’ve had a couple of leads but haven’t come up with anything yet.

“Last year it was wonderful to induct the two Jimmys. The stories that came out of that from the families were just amazing.

“You got a real insight as to how bad things were in the war. It was incredibly touching.

“Now we want to go about it in the same way for George.”

Born in 1889 and brought up in Crossgates, George played right half for Rovers, where he was also vice-captain.

Described as “a true hero” by Gordon Brown, former MP, he was killed on October 22, 1917, during the Battle of Passchendaele and was awarded the Military Medal.

Marshall Bowman, who represented the club at last year’s centenary memorials, said: “We actually know very little about him.

“We do know that he has no grave, but he does have a panel at Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Belgium.

“When I was over last year for the Contalmaison Cairn ceremony in France we also went to Tyne Cot and looked for George – and eventually found him.

“What was interesting was, out of the thousands of names, George’s was the only one that had a little sticker of a poppy on it.

“I tried to find out who had put it there. We have an idea but we haven’t actually had it verified yet. I hope we find our more about George. He deserves his induction.”