Bishopbriggs pupils in call for memorial to modest WWI hero

editorial image

Bishopbriggs pupils have called for recognition to be given to a World War One hero whose great-great-grand-daughter goes to their school.

Marcus Miller and Christopher Cooper, S3 pupils at Turnbull High School, are leading the tribute to Springburn serviceman Robert Downie, who won the Victoria Cross for valour.

His great-great-grand-daughter Sophie Casserly is a pupil in S6 at Turnbull.

Marcus said: “Robert Downie won this tremendous award after his courage and bravery in World War One. We think his memory should be honoured in a memorial that will hopefully raise awareness of his bravery.”

Marcus, Christopher and fellow pupils researched Robert’s role in the Great War.

Born on January 12, 1894, in Glasgow, Robert was just 22 years-old when he served in the 2nd battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers as a sergeant.

On October 23 1916, east of Lesboeufs in the Somme, after most of Sergeant Downie’s fellow officers were either killed or seriously injured, he led an attack on a German machine gun unit. Marcus said: “Regardless of personal danger and under very heavy fire, he rushed forward shouting ‘Come on Dubs!’ and his unit rushed forward at this call.

“Sergeant Downie accounted for several of the enemy and in addition captured a machine-gun, killing the team. Although wounded early in the fight, he remained with his company, giving valuable assistance while the position was being consolidated.

“On his homecoming, he arrived at Glasgow Central Station to be met by hundreds of people who carried him shoulder-high to a taxi. Springburn Road was decorated with flags and bunting and lined with hundreds more people and his achievement was widely reported in the Glasgow press.”

On June 8, 1946, Robert attended the Second World War Victory Day celebration reception held at the Dorchester Hotel, London.

The modest man lived quietly in Carleston Street, Springburn, until his death in 1968. Football fans at Celtic Park regularly saw him on a Saturday as he worked as a cashier at the turnstiles.

A modest man, Marcus said Robert often played down his bravery. He died on April 18, 1968.