The daring exploits of First World War hero from Fife are being appreciated as never before thanks to a social media alert that was spotted by the soldier’s grandson.
A post on the Cupar Library Facebook page by OnFife local studies supervisor, Andrea McMillan, caught the eye of the Company Sergeant Major’s grandson, also named John Lumsden.
Moved by the post, John Jnr sent copies of precious family documents to Andrea, which have enabled a fuller picture of the fallen hero’s life to emerge.
John Lumsden was one of several Cupar men to join the 7th Battalion Black Watch at the outbreak of war in 1914.
The linen factory worker was awarded the Military Medal for an act of gallantry on June 16 1915 – a year before his death.
Tasked with holding the communications lines and later the trenches themselves during the attack on Festubert-Givenchy front, the battalion suffered heavy casualties.
Having already seen his Lieutenant killed and under heavy shell fire, Lumsden attempted to carry Captain James Donaldson, who had been shot in the head by a sniper, back from the front to safety.
However, just after they crossed a water-course, a shell burst behind them, wrecking the bridge they had crossed and cutting off a party of wounded men on the other side.
Sergeant Lumsden handed the Captain over to another man before hastily collecting planks and other materials to restore the bridge, while still under constant fire, allowing the stranded soldiers to get to safety.
Incredibly, this was no isolated display of bravery by Sergeant Lumsden, who earlier that day is reported to have also saved himself and others by throwing a bomb out of a trench.
Captain Donaldson, convinced he owed his life to his sergeant’s gallant conduct, mentioned John Lumsden in dispatches in January 1916.
Within six months, aged 26, John was dead, killed on 30 July during the attack on High Wood. A posthumous Military Medal was awarded in 1917.
The war hero’s grandson contacted Andrea after reading her Facebook post following research carried out regarding some of the names included on the Cupar war memorial.
Family letters and photographs sent to Andrea also helped to shed new light on the impact that the death had on soldier’s family.
“I had two heroes of the First World War,” said John.
“My grandfather’s story is well documented and he is deserving of the status of a very local war hero who paid the ultimate price.
“My grandmother’s undocumented story is one of a woman who bore her grief without bitterness and raised her children with fortitude, grace and dignity.”
Andrea said: “I’ve done a lot of research on the war memorial and occasionally put up posts on Facebook about the people who are remembered there.
“It’s been a real privilege to learn so much about Sergeant Lumsden and his family.
“His grandson, John read the post and wanted to share some family memories, which were intensely moving to read.
“Among the photos and documents that he forwarded was a letter sent home to Sergeant Lumsden’s mother, informing her of her son’s death.
“John, read the post and wanted to share some family memories, which were intensely moving to read.”