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FROM THE ARCHIVES: Inverness newspaper man’s wartime sacrifice

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A letter of thanks for an offer to send Couriers to the frontline.
A letter of thanks for an offer to send Couriers to the frontline.

The Barron family were owners, proprietors and editors of the Inverness Courier.

In 1915, recognising that many local men were serving in France, Mr James Barron, the then editor, offered to send copies of the Courier, a gesture that was gratefully acknowledged in an anonymous letter from a member of the British Expeditionary Force:

"My Dear Sir, I am very much obliged to you for your very kind offer of copies of ‘The Courier’ for the use of the men of D Company. The offer is very acceptable and the papers would be very much appreciated by the men.

"Papers we only see infrequently and the country journals very rarely so that a good country paper with plenty of district news would be a boon to the men…"

It is possible that D Company were part of the 7th Battalion Cameron Highlanders, whose second in command was Mr Barron’s elder son Major James Barron.

Educated at Inverness Royal Academy and Edinburgh University, James Barron was, for a time, a member of the editorial staff of the Financial Times before returning to Inverness to serve as assistant editor to his father.

He was an ardent member of the Territorial Forces serving as Captain of the Nairn Detachment and shortly after the outbreak of war accepted a Captaincy in the 7th Cameron Highlanders.

By January 1915 James Barron had attained the rank of Major and was second-in-command of his Battalion.

On 25th September 1915, during the Battle of Loos, the then Major Barron volunteered to attempt to reach the advanced party who were in danger of being cut off.

He was last seen lying severely wounded on “Hill 70”.

Major Barron died of wounds two days later in a German Field Hospital at Pont de Courriers.

It wasn’t until December 1915 that news of his death reached his family in Inverness.

Part of Major James Barron's last letter home to his father.
Part of Major James Barron's last letter home to his father.

In what was his last letter to his father, Major Barron describes the realities of trench warfare:

"13-9-15, My Dear Father, I got your letter a couple of days ago when we were again in the trenches having not such a quiet time as before.

"Unfortunately there were some casualties both among officers and men. The former got off fairly lightly, one is back and the others should return in a week or two, Macrae being longest off. He had several wounds but fortunately they are not so serious as we at first thought.

"A trench mortar shell went quite close to them and sent them flying.

"Within twenty four hours of this we had five killed by a shell in an advanced position….”

Shortly after James’ death had been confirmed, Major Murdoch Beaton, a close friend of the Barron family, used the sentiment of the time when he wrote:

"So Jim has made the supreme sacrifice.

"It is a blow to you all at home but we should not grieve as those grieve who do not understand what Jim died for.

"His was a lion hearted resolve to do and dare for truth and righteousness. No more.

"My only regret is that he wasn’t laid to rest by the loving hands of his Cameron comrades."

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