The story behind WW1 memorial

Memorial monument on the beach at Colintraive.
Memorial monument on the beach at Colintraive.

Captain James MacKirdy, a master mariner living in Argyll Terrace and the twins’ father was born there and educated at Rothesay Academy.

Peter and Robert were brought up in Greenock, Peter staying with his maternal grandmother and Richard staying with his paternal grandmother though both were educated at the Collegiate School there.

When Peter left school he became an engineer, serving his apprenticeship with Messrs Caird and Company, an engineering and shipbuilding firm based in Greenock, before moving to a more responsible position with Harland and Wolff in Liverpool.

He had joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1910 as a Sub-Lieutenant, earning promotion through the years and took command of the Greenock contingent on the outbreak of World War One. He served as a Lieutenant Commander in the Anson Battalion of the Royal Naval Division, and was involved in the defence of Antwerp in 1914 before being sent to the Dardanelles.

He died on the hospital ship Sicilia, on the 29 May 1915, from an abdominal gunshot wound received in action several days earlier. Peter is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Monument.

His twin brother Robert became a commission agent on leaving school and he joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as a Territorial in 1907 and served as a 2nd Lieutenant, also earning promotion over the years. He volunteered for service at the outbreak of World War One and was sent to the Dardanelles in June 1915. Captain MacKirdy was killed in action on the 12th of July 1915 during the final unsuccessful attempt to capture Achi Baba, a prominent hill position overlooking Cape Helles and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial at Gallipoli.

Both brothers are commemorated on the small monument on the beach at Colintraive with only their names, regimental badges and Gallipoli 1915 inscribed on it, as well as on the memorial in Colintraive Church, but only Peter MacKirdy is commemorated on the Rothesay War Memorial.

There are several articles in the Buteman giving information about Peter but Robert’s death 10 weeks later was ignored. It does seem strange that one twin should be commemorated on Bute but not the other.