“Help us find Fife war hero’s family”

Linda Ballingall, Heritage Centre chairman with Ian Nimmo-White who is conducting research with the hope of reuniting the family with the soldier's death plaque. (Pic Steve Brown).
Linda Ballingall, Heritage Centre chairman with Ian Nimmo-White who is conducting research with the hope of reuniting the family with the soldier's death plaque. (Pic Steve Brown).

An appeal had been launched to reunite the family of a WWI Kirkcaldy solider – killed 100 years ago next week – with the ‘death penny’ honouring his sacrifice.

The memorial plaque, issued to the family of Thomas Blyth Peebles, a private in the 16th Highland Light Infantry, killed in France on November 18, 1916, was found languishing in a garden shed in Glenrothes several years ago.

Attempts had been made to track down those related to the brave soldier, but all leads had run cold, so the plaque has this week been donated to the centre with the hope of their researchers having more success.

“It’s both intriguing and sad in equal measure,” Linda Ballingall, chairman of Glenrothes and Area Heritage Centre told the Fife Free Press.

“It’s amazing to know that it was found in an old shed and could very easily have been thrown away.

“But it’s ultimately tinged with great sadness too because it represents the ultimate sacrifice made by the young soldier.”

Private Peebles, just 22 at the time, was killed during the assault on the Munich Trench at Beaumont-Hamel, during the last days of the Battle of the Somme.

The area remained in a forward area of the battle zone during the winter of 1916-17, before the Germans retreated in the spring.

Private Peebles’ body was one of around 150 soldiers that was lain to rest in the New Munich Trench cemetery, created soon after the end of the Great War.

Research by those at the Heritage Centre has revealed that Private Peebles was one of four brothers, one of whom – Robert Speed Peebles – lived in Glenrothes until his death in 1973.

“Robert Speed is the probable reason as to why the ‘penny’ ended up in Glenrothes so we are appealing for anyone who knew him to get in touch,” said Linda.

“Also there are Peebles family links to Dysart as well as to a Grace Berry Wilson who passed away in 1997, who lived in Cupar.

“And of course there’s the Kirkcaldy link – it would be wonderful to be able to give this back to the family on the anniversary of his death.”