TWO carriage clocks presented to Helensburgh soldiers who served in the Boer War have come to light . . . in Kent and in Rhu.

Recently I investigated the story of Private William McKinlay of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders receiving a clock at a reception in the Victoria Hall in June 1901.

I checked the columns of the Helensburgh and Gareloch Times of the period because of a request for information from Richard Johnson in Edinbridge, Kent, after an antique clock turned up in his local antique shop.

The paper said that townsfolk recognized theharsh conditions for soldiers fighting in the South African campaign against excellent Boer horsemen and marksmen, so when they returned a reception was organised and presided over by the Provost, Colonel William Anderson.

The 22 local soldiers who took part in the conflict were each presented with a carriage clock made to a special design by Messrs Elkington & Co. of London of oxidised silver and brass.

Above the dial is a reproduction of the burgh coat of arms, with South Africa and 1899-1901 on either side.

At the foot of the dial is an Argyll and Sutherland Highlander, a field gun, and an Imperial Yeoman.

The inscription read: "Presented to ....................... in recognition of patriotic service in the South African Campaign - June 1901." After I wrote about Private McKinlay in Eye on Millig last month I had a quick response from Mrs Mairi Gallagher in Rhu.

She told me: "I also have one of these clocks. It was presented to my great grandmother's brother, John Westwood McCulloch, and it is on my mantelpiece and still works!

"His father was William Lawrie McCulloch, a local painter and decorator who lived at a house called Locheil which is at the bottom of Suffolk Street. The firm remained in the family and carried on in the town for many years.

"His grandfather was John Westwood McCulloch, who was the local police commissioner. He lived in a house called Greenhouse next to the home of Lady Augusta Clavering on West Clyde Street." The story had a sad ending. Another relative, David Walker Coutts, died in South Africa about 1900, while Trooper McCulloch died at home in 1906 at the age of 30, having never married.

Mairi added: "The family story is that he was traumatised by the war and was never the same when he came home." Private McKinlay's clock is in pristine condition and is currently on sale in Edinbridge at �5,650, but there is damage to the face of Trooper Urquhart's clock and it would not be so valuable.

I would welcome any more details about these two and the other local soldiers.

The other ranks with Lieutenant J.Maxwell Gillatt were Sergeant Farrier William Neilson, Sergeant Daniel L.Porter, Lance-Sergeant John McNicol, Corporal John Hamilton, Corporal A.A.Stuart Black, and Corporal George S.Maughan.

Farrier Peter McDougall, Farrier John McBride, Trooper Robert B.McGregor, Trooper W.Young Cruickshank, Trooper Alex McMillan, Farrier R.Martin, Trooper James F.Neilson, Trooper John Blackwood, Trooper James Alexander, Private Robert Alexander, Private James Sweeny, Private Alfred Gilchrist, and Private William Stirling.