Armistice 100: Bellshill family who gave all during WW1

William Brennan holds up a newspaper article detailing all 11 members of the Docherty family who served in World War One
William Brennan holds up a newspaper article detailing all 11 members of the Docherty family who served in World War One

In 1914 15-year-old Allan Docherty was one of seven Bellshill brothers who signed up to fight in the First World War.

The New Orbiston teenager joined the Royal Naval Brigade and was stationed in the North Sea.

Allan would survive the conflict, as would his older brothers John and Stephen, but his mother Mary would lose four sons.

William was shot by a sniper, James died of his wounds after coming home, and the cause of death of Andrew and Cornelius remains unknown.

In addition, all four husband’s of Mary and her late husband William’s daughters also served – John and Joseph McAleese, Robert Barrie and Charles McKay. Charles too would never make it home again although his cause of death is also unknown.

Allan would go on to have nine children and his grandson William, son of his eldest child Rose, is heading to France and Belgium this weekend to pay his respects to his fallen great-uncles.

William, who lives in Viewpark, said: “He died when I was 16, but I remember my grandfather as being a feisty wee guy, but he had a kind heart and I can’t imagine how he must have felt as 15-year-old going off to war.

“His brother Cornelius and brother-in-law Charles were both professional soldiers, but having served in India and South Africa respectively, the front in France with the new mechanised war must have been a real shock for them.

“I wonder how it must have been for my great-grandmother. She had already lost her husband and then had to bury four sons and no doubt support a widowed daughter – she must have gone through absolute hell.

“These young men were cut down in their prime and what was their sacrifice for? At least when my father Patrick fought in World War Two you feel there was something worth fighting for. I’m not sure that was the case in World War One.

“I have been researching my family’s involvement in the war for some time and has put me in touch with relations all over the world I didn’t know existed.

“I hope to represent us all when I go to Cambrin in France and the Menin Gate in Belgium to pay for respects to my fallen great-uncles.

“This will be the third time I’ve made the trip and with this year being the centenary of the Armistice of World War One it feels particularly poignant.”