The story of Private Hugh McIver VC MM and Bar
I have been privileged enough to have been afforded the opportunity to research aspects of the First World War in a variety of professional roles. That I have been able to do so is significantly linked to the story of my Tommy, as since I was a little boy growing up in a military family, I have been familiar with the life story of my relative Private Hugh McIver VC MM & Bar and his status as a local legend in the part of Lanarkshire my family comes from. This awareness, stemming from the pride my family has in Hughâ€™s standing as a Scottish war hero, inspired my initial interest in history as a child, my further study of the subject at university and is a fantastic frame of personal reference in my career as a researcher. Of course, I am biased, but I truly believe that the story of Hugh McIverâ€™s life and death in action is a particularly extraordinary tale even when contextualised against the millions of extraordinary tales that make up the history of the British Army during the First World War.
The account of Hughâ€™s life, and his service in the Royal Scots during the War, is even more compelling when we start at his humble beginnings and acknowledge that despite being gazetted for three gallantry medals between September 1916 and November 1918 (including the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross – Britainâ€™s highest military award â€˜For Valourâ€™), my Tommy was far from a â€˜modelâ€™ soldier and was in fact a strong-minded young Scotsman who was no angel. This story will be told in two blog posts due to my familyâ€™s luck regarding the wealth of surviving material relating to the life and service of Private McIver. Indeed he personally appears in records from most major series held at The National Archives and other institutions relating to the service of other ranks during the First World War. By journeying through them we can acknowledge the breadth of records available that teach us about army service during the War whilst learning about a scrappy wee miner who truly lived up to the motto of the Royal Scots: Nemo Me Impune Lacessit, roughly translated into Scots as â€˜Wha Daur Meddle Wiâ€™ Me?â€™ Hugh was born on 21 July 1890 in Linwood, Renfrewshire to Hugh and Mary McIver a Scottish Roman Catholic couple who were descended from Irish immigrants. Another Irish immigrant, my great-grandfather James Farrell of Newbliss, Co Monaghan, would marry Hughâ€™s younger sister Kate on 9 April 1920 in Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, making Private Hugh McIver VC MM and Bar my great-great uncle. Continue reading »