Acting Lance Corporal John Brown Hamilton of 1/9th Battalion (Glasgow Highlanders) The Highland Light Infantry was awarded the Victoria Cross for his courageous action 100 years yesterday and today (26/27 September 1917).
John was honoured three days ago in the place of his birth, Dumbarton, by the unveiling of a commemorative paving stone; however, the Hamilton family were originally a Cambuslang family. John’s parents having moved to Dumbarton for work at the steel works; however, the family returned to Cambuslang in 1912 and, apart from WWI, John continued to live in Cambuslang until his death in 1973. It was, therefore, fitting that the UK Government accepted the plea of the local Council to provide a second memorial paving stone for the town.
The stone was unveiled at Cambuslang Parish Church, yesterday, by John’s grandson, and will remain there until the garden of remembrance is completed later this year.
John married Mary Maxwell in November 1915 and were blessed with three sons (now deceased) and a daughter, Jessie, who will celebrate her own centenary next year. Three of John’s grandchildren, one great-grand-daughter and members of his extended family from Cambuslang were present at the poignant service.
John had given a great deal of his time to Cambuslang: an elder of the kirk; player and committee member of Cambuslang Rangers Football Club and involvement in the creation of the ex-service club and the unveiling of the Cambuslang War Memorial in 1922. In 1933, John became one of the first probation officers in Scotland and in WWII, he was placed in command of an Italian internment camp, having risen to the rank of Colonel in the Territorial Army.
John’s grandson, Gordon, shared memories of his grandfather with the gathering and noted that John would never speak of his bravery or why he was awarded the Victoria Cross – he could recall only one occasion when John had said that he had saved the whole battalion by his conspicuous bravery: he had shot the cook!