Museum exhibition commemorates Rothesay WW1 victim

William Perston (in the centre of the group, with his arms folded), pictured with his colleagues at The Buteman shortly before the outbreak of the First World War.

William Perston (in the centre of the group, with his arms folded), pictured with his colleagues at The Buteman shortly before the outbreak of the First World War.

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THE life of a First World War soldier from Rothesay, who died on active service in France just weeks before the end of hostilities, is commemorated in a new exhibition at Bute Museum.

Private William Perston worked as a compositor at The Buteman, and left a wife, Annie, and young daughter behind in Rothesay when he went to fight on the fields of France.

Pte Perston, who was aged 29 and lived at 3 Bishop Terrace Brae, served with the 14th Battalion of the Black Watch.

William was one of two Bute soldiers - the other was Pte David Halliday - who was killed on September 10, 1918, little more than two months before the Armistice.

The small exhibition includes the ‘Dead Man’s Penny’ - more properly known as the Memorial Plaque - bearing William’s name which was given to his family after his death.

The following extract from the Black Watch’s regimental diaries tells of the action in which Privates Perston and Halliday were killed: 

“At 2am four companies of the 74th Division (of which the 14th Black Watch was one) were ordered forward to take a ridge in front of them, which was on the road to Epehy.

“They met a strong German counter attack and two companies were overwhelmed and nearly surrounded. They were ordered to retire, but not more than a quarter got back.”

The exhibition can be viewed at the museum in Rothesay’s Stuart Street during winter opening hours, from 2.30pm-4.30pm, Tuesday to Saturday.