Kinghorn’s dignified tribute to a brave soldier – and a selfless man

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Kinghorn turned out in force at the weekend to pay tribute to a brave and highly respected former son.

Dozens of people took part in a church service and procession to the war memorial for the unveiling of a special memorial stone to Sergeant John McAulay VC DCM who was born in Kinghorn in December 1888.

The procession to the Kinghorn war memorial

The procession to the Kinghorn war memorial

Sergeant McAulay, who moved to Glasgow and joined the City of Glasgow Police after a spell as a miner, was the only Scottish police officer to receive the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour.

On the morning of November 27, 1917, Sergeant McAulay and his comrades in the Scots Guards platoon were attempting to capture the village of Fontaine Notre Dame in the Battle of Cambrai in Belgium.

They came under machine gun fire and their commander was hit twice by bullets to his leg and back.

Sergeant McAulay raced forward and hoisted him onto his back and made his way back to safety, getting up again twice after being knocked over by exploding shells. He also killed two German soldiers trying to cut him off.

He then rallied his men after assuming command and, when their machine gun failed, he killed a further 50 Germans, repelling their attack and holding on to their hard-fought position.

In his citation for the Victoria Cross, it was stated that he: “displayed the highest courage, tactical skill and coolness under exceptionally trying circumstances.”

On Sunday current members of the Scots Guards, the Scots Guards Association and the City of Glasgow Police were all represented, along with the Lord Lieutenant and Provost of Fife, Fife councillors, the Royal Burgh of Kinghorn Community Council and around 40 members of Sergeant McAulay’s family, including some from Australia and America as well as all over the UK.

The special unveiling ceremony was followed by a reception in Kinghorn Community Centre during which the Scots Guards presented Kinghorn with a framed picture telling the story of Sergeant McAulay’s bravery, including a copy of the Victoria Cross, which will be displayed in the centre.

Alan McIlravie, Provost of the community council, said: “It was a special day and all of Sergeant McAulay’s relatives were delighted with the service and its dignity.”