Although, Carluke, in Lanarkshire, boasts a long history, it was not until the 20th century that it became more widely known as “the bravest town in Britain”! No less than three of this small town’s sons were awarded the Victoria Cross: William Angus (1915), Thomas Caldwell (1918) and Donald Cameron (1943).
However, for the people of Carluke, Sergeant Arthur Ramage DCM, MM & Bar, Croix de Guerre, MID, deserves similar recognition; indeed, it is said that the road named after him is longer than those of the other three, as he was held in higher regard!
12th (Service) Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry (12 HLI) was raised in September 1914 and landed at Boulogne on 10 July 1915. One of their number, Arthur Ramage, at the grand old age of 23, had been a member of the Territorial Force before the war and thus was destined to quickly rise to the rank of Sergeant.
However, it was at the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915 that Arthur was to earn his place in the history of Carluke – for his gallant action on that day, when 17 young Carluke men were killed in action, he was awarded the Military Medal:
“On that dreadful day, he was attached to a machine gun section and, despite the fact that all the other men in his section became casualties, he continued to work his gun until he was himself wounded.
“After a time, he recovered consciousness but instead of thinking of himself he crawled out into the open and helped many who were more seriously wounded than himself, bringing his officer and several comrades back to the safety of the trenches.”
In October 1916, bar was added to Arthur’s Military Medal, in recognition of saving an officer’s life while under a hail of enemy fire; followed early in 1917, by the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the oldest British medal for gallantry. Arthur had voluntarily carried out a successful reconnaissance mission on a farm, which was a German stronghold far behind enemy lines. For this action, the French Government added their own recognition of Arthur’s bravery, by the award of the Croix de Guerre, a new award created in 1915.
12 HLI took part in all the major battles, including the First and Second Battles of Scarpe, the Arras Offensive and the Third Battle of Ypres, possibly better known as Passchendaele. Arthur was with his Battalion throughout this time, but sadly, on the way back through the lines after a successful attack, he was killed by a sniper’s bullet.
Arthur was aged 25 years when he died, but the people of Carluke remember their hero – for, although, he was not awarded a Victoria Cross for his many gallant actions, he was the definitely the most decorated son of the bravest town in Britain!