WWI centenary: A Cellardyke man’s world war

The Davidson family.
The Davidson family.

In the lead up to the centenary of the end of World War I, the East Fife Mail has asked its readers to share the stories of their own WWI heroes.

While those who fought in the war between 1914-18 are all gone, we want local families to tell their stories and ensure they are not forgotten.

One Fifer, who served in not one, but both world wars, was Cellardyke man William Davidson.

Born on April 5, 1884, William would grow up to be a fisherman, like his father and many others in the village, and earned his skipper certificate in 1908.

He signed up for the Royal Navy Reserve and commenced his service during the war on March 1, 1915, when he was assigned to the HMS Aberdeen.

William served at the Oranto Barrage during the war.

The allied naval blockade stretched across the Otranto Straits, between Italy and Corfu, intending to prevent the Austro-Hungarian navy from escaping to the Mediterranean.

Drifters were used to try and catch Austro-Hungarian and German submarines attempting to get through the blockade.

The drifters were used again when the Serbian army were escaping the Austro-Hungarian and Romanian armies, transporting them to safety.

For his involvement, William was presented with a Gold Medal for Good Service by the King of Serbia.

William would be discharged on July 18, 1919.

More than 20 years later, he signed up to serve again.

Now 56-years-old, William reported to the HMS Cochrane on November 1, 1940.

He served as the temporary boom skipper, before being installed as the acting chief boom skipper on June 30, 1943.

From research his family has conducted, it is thought he worked on trawlers on rivers throughout the UK, maintaining the defensive booms.

On November 25, 1945, at the age of 61,William was demobbed.

He died on March 13, 1972.

Do you have a family member from Levenmouth or the East Neuk, who served during World War I?

To share your memories and pictures, send emails entitled ‘World War One’ to mailnews@fifetoday.co.uk.