Google+ Followers

Friday, 1 July 2016

After the War

I don't have any family photographs that remotely ressemble a group of performers like the Merrymakers featured in this week's Sepia Saturday prompt image above. All I can offer this week is a group photograph that I believe must have been taken on some Scottish hillside in the vicinity of the town of Turriff in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in 1919. 

My grandfather Oliver Desmond Cruickshank 1893-1985 served as a sapper in the NZ Expeditionary Force from mid 1916 until the end of World War 1. Although considered to have been only slightly wounded, he carried shrapnel in his forehead for the rest of his life. According to my aunt Nella, Oliver didn't go back to New Zealand right after the war but stayed on in the UK until mid 1919. While there he commenced a course of training to become an architect in London and was also able to visit his grandfather's family in Turriff, Aberdeenshire. Grandparents Adam and Charlotte Cruickshank nee Joss had emigrated from there to New Zealand in 1863, together with Adam's brother William and his wife Jane nee Imlah and family, and Adam and William's mother Janet Mackie. Janet died in 1880, Jane in 1905, Charlotte in 1908, William in 1911 and Adam died 1914, but no doubt they had passed on the details of their Scottish families to their children and grandchildren, and had they been still alive they would have been pleased to know that young Oliver had taken the opportunity to go up to Turriff from London and meet some of his Scottish relatives.

Either Nella or Oliver has written names on the back of the photograph, as shown below, but unfortunately they are not very enlightening. In fact I would not have recognised Oliver, sitting cross-legged second from left, if he hadn't been identified. The young boy sitting in front of him is named as Duncan, Janet's brother.  Duncan James Cruickshank, 1915-1978, was a third cousin to Oliver.  Duncan could only have been 5 or 6 at most in this photograph, although he looks older. He followed in his father's footsteps as the town pharmacist, as did his son Alan after him.

 Duncan and Janet's father was George Morrison Cruickshank, Turriff pharmacist and son of Alexander, who was a first cousin to Oliver's grandfather Adam Cruickshank.  George Morrison Cruickshank 1874-1960 was married to Jessie Ann Cruickshank 1885-1954, whose parents were Alexander Cruickshank and Jessie. The surname Cruickshank is a common name in Aberdeenshire and it appears that George and Jessie Ann weren't related, other than by marriage.  I think the lady identified as Jessie, one of the two older women sitting together behind Duncan, must have been his grandmother Jessie, who would have been about 60 in 1920, rather than his mother Jessie Ann who would have been 35. The gentleman standing at the back seems to have been identified as G Uncle Jim. The only possibility I can see for him on the family tree as far as I currently have it is bachelor James Cruickshank, 1873-1951, brother of George and uncle of Duncan.  At present I think that only Duncan and Jim were related to Oliver's Cruickshank line. I have no idea who Frank and Gladys might have been but they were not siblings of George or Jessie Ann, and I also don't know what the letters MG refer to. More research is clearly required!

Oliver found that architecture was too much for him. and upon his return to New Zealand he went back to his trade of plumbing and then on to working for the government as a Health Inspector.  He married Myrtle May Byles in Wellington NZ on 7 April 1921. He visited our family in Australia a few times but never traveled further field again.   The family connection continues however, because my parents and my aunt Nella became friendly with Duncan's sister Janet and in turn I am in touch with her son Andrew and his family. Andrew (my 4th cousin once removed) and his wife Ann attended our daughter's wedding in England in 2012.

Oliver and Myrtle on their wedding day

Duncan's father George Morrison Cruickshank doesn't feature in the hillside photograph with Oliver and Duncan, but perhaps he was the photographer. In any event, here he is with my parents and myself when we visited Turriff in 1954. 

In memory of Janet, Charlotte and Adam, William and Jane, hardy emigrants who never returned to those Scottish hillsides of their homeland, and of Oliver their great grandson, grandson and great nephew and soldier, who did so on their behalf, here is Andy Stewart singing his classic hit song of the 1960s , Scottish Soldier. I still have the original LP, much loved by my parents.

To read other Sepian blogs that are probably more related to the Merrymakers prompt this week, click here.


  1. It may not have been very enlightening but how wonderful to see all those names, possibly autographs, on the back of the photo, and lovely to have those pictures of your grandfather.

  2. Yes, although I think the names must have been written at a later date. I doubt whether young Duncan would have been able to both sign his name and describe himself as Janet's brother. Janet was just a baby at that time.

  3. It is so nice to have an old photograph of relatives with the names on the back - however & whenever they were placed there. We have inherited so many wonderful old family photographs with no identification of the people in them. So frustrating. How lucky you know who the people are in the one you've shared with us.

  4. Your photo evokes the theme photo in its composition. How wonderful to have this photo showing the link back to Scotland. I imagine many of the men took advantage of visiting kin while on furlough though of course in many cases we will never know. It was interesting that he was allowed to stay on to study as I had thought previously they were repatriated automatically. Great that the links continue.

    1. Perhaps the rules for NZ and Australia were different in that respect.