A CARDROSS man has made an emotional pilgrimage to the grave of his great-grandfather – a hundred years after he died in the First World War.

Preston Fleming travelled to Flanders to honour the memory of his great-grandfather, also Preston, who served as a private with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, but died aged 24 after being shot in the head in September 1917 – on the day he returned to the front from hospital.

His great-grandson said the trip to the Mendinghem military ceremony was “the honourable thing” to do to mark the 100th anniversary.

Preston told the Advertiser: “My great-grandfather joined up in late 1915 and was sent down south for nine months’ training.

“They sent him out to the front in August 1916 and he was shot in the stomach in October of that year.

“He returned to duty and was shot again in May 1917, this time in the shoulder, and instead of sending him home for treatment they took him to the local field hospital.

“He was released at 6.30am on September 20, went back to the front, and was shot through the head at ten minutes past 12.”

Born in Salford, Greater Manchester, in 1893, where his own father worked as an ironmoulder, Preston’s great-grandfather moved with his parents to the family’s home turf in Falkirk in around 1901.

He married his girlfriend, Shirley Dunn, in December 1910; according to Falkirk Parish Church records, Shirley never remarried, and died in Falkirk in 1949, aged 55.

Preston said he remembered asking his grandfather – also Preston – about his own visit to Belgium to track down the grave in the late 1970s, but that he was reluctant to talk about the experience.

“My grandfather passed away 25 years ago,” he continued, “and about 18 years ago a big envelope came through my door with photos of my great-grandfather and his wife around the time he went to war.

“My grandfather took a fortnight off and went to Belgium, without any of the information you get nowadays, to find his father’s grave, but I never got anything from him after his visit.

“We did a bit of digging on my great-grandfather’s history, visiting Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle, to try and find out where he was and what he had done.

“My own dad never managed to make it out to Belgium and I always said I wanted to go, so my daughter and I flew out there and made our way to his grave.

“We spent about an hour there. It’s so serene and so peaceful.

“Being 100 years since he died, I wanted to do the honourable thing and visit him.”