Fitting tribute to VC hero after 100 years

Robert Dunsire VC
Robert Dunsire VC
  • Dunsire honoured
  • A century past
  • Supreme act of valour

Months of research, archive exploration and a revival of family links reach a culmination this weekend in honour of one of Levenmouth’s greatest ever heroes - in the true sense.

A ceremony on Saturday afternoon in Buckhaven will feature the unveiling of a memorial to Robert Dunsire, Levenmouth’s only recipient of the Victoria Cross.

He earned the British services’ highest award for gallantry

A grateful community

That day marks exactly 100 years since Dunsire, then 23, carried out a heroic act of bravery – rescuing two comrades under enemy fire – during the Battle of Loos, which was later to earn him the highest award for gallantry in the British armed services.

The Buckhaven-born former miner was feted and celebrated in parades around the area during an extended period of home leave, when, in November 1915, he was presented with the medal by King George V at Buckingham Palace.

However, Dunsire’s newly-conferred status and inspirational presence were to prove tragically short-lived as, in January 1916, he was fatally injured by a German trench mortar.

One thing that did not die, however, was his heroic reputation, and Dunsire has been revered and respected in his home area ever since.

This latest accolade came about as a result of a proposal by the Department of Communities and Local Government for centenary commemorations of Victoria Cross recipients with a memorial paving stone.

The creation honouring Dunsire is due to be unveiled at 2.30pm this Saturday in Toll Park, Muiredge, Buckhaven, by his great, great nephew, Johnny Miller. His great grandmother was Dunsire’s sister, Grace.

An organising group, supported by Fife Council and featuring, among others, former MP Lindsay Roy, local man Bert Hannah, of the Friends of MEthil Heritage, Levenmnouth councillors, local organisations and military personnel, set about resarching Dunsire’s story further and trying to trace his relatives.

Around 60 family members were eventually contacted and a number of them are travelling through for the ceremony, from such areas as Yorkshire, Wales and Sussex.

The sign on the western gateway to Buckhaven announces it as the birthplace of Robert Dunsire VC, while there is an interpretation panel telling the story of Dunsire at Toll Park.

Mr Hannah has also created a timeline of events heralding the commemorations at www.facebook.com/RobertDunsireVCBuckhaven

The ceremony will be preceded by a 1.30pm service at Buckhaven & Wemyss Parish Church, led by minister the Rev Wilma Cairns, for which there was only a limited standing room left as the Mail went to press.

With music by Buckhaven & Methil Miners Brass Band, there will be hymns, readings, and tributes to Dunsire by, among others, Fife’s Lord Lieutenant, Robert Balfour, and Buckhaven Primary School Choir.

Following a procession to Toll Park, featuring the Black Watch Army Cadet Force Pipes & Drums, there will be further tributes to Dunsire, the unveiling, and the dedication of a commemorative bench and the VC paving stone. Also planned are perfomrances of the ‘Last Post’ and the ‘Flowers Of The Forest, along with a one-minute silence.

Family members are due to place remembrance poppy crosses before the final blessing by Ms Cairns.

Then there will be a parade, via Church Street, Randolph Street and Victoria Road, to Buckhaven Community Education Centre for light refreshments.