People on board
William Duncan was born on 8 March 1891 to James Duncan and Isabella Dunn Peggie. He was born in Nairn’s Buildings in Ladybank, Collessie, Fifeshire, a railway station and junction on the lines from Edinburgh to Perth and Dundee. James was a Railway Labourer / Ballast Man. A sister, Annie, was born in 1892 and a brother, James, in 1894, and by 1901 the family had moved to the village of Collessie and James was working as a ‘Railway Plate-layer’. In the 1911 census they were back in Ladybank, at 12 Lorne Street, a three-bedroom cottage, and both James and William were working as a ‘Surfaceman’ for the Railway Company. Annie and James Jnr. were working in the Linen Factory.
On 29th November 1912 William married Margaret Craig Fernie in Collessie, and they moved a short distance to Kingskettle. Two daughters were born there, Elizabeth Fernie in 1913 and Isabella Peggie in 1914. That year William had changed his occupation from Railway Worker to Vanman.
William enlisted with the 3rd Reserve Battalion of the Black Watch, the Royal Highlanders, but the military records available do not show when he did so. This battalion was a depot / training unit and stayed in Scotland until November 1917 when they moved to Ireland, initially to Queenstown, Cork and then to the Curragh in County Kildare. It was while returning to Scotland on leave that William Duncan was travelling on RMS Leinster on 10 October 1918. He did not survive the sinking, nor was his body recovered. He is remembered on the Hollybrook Memorial in Southampton.
William’s mother Isabella wrote a poem to honour her son and share the grief of her daughter-in-law and grandchildren. Isabella’s other son James also seem, from the photograph, to have joined the Black Watch, and it appears that he survived the war.
Photos courtesy Joyce Smart, Scotland