2nd Lieutenant William Grindlay

Biography of 2nd Lieutenant William Grindlay

William was born in Kilsyth on the 11th October 1888, the fourth son of Jean Stirling and Bailie Charles Grindlay, a cartwright and later a house factor. The family lived in the town at Stirling Villa, 12 Murray Avenue, and William was educated at Kilsyth Academy, where he served as a Pupil Teacher. Pupil Teachers were boys or girls of at least 13 years of age, who were indentured and paid to teach younger children throughout the school day and received their own lessons from the school teacher before or after school hours. These lessons were intended to prepare them for progression to teacher training college.

In 1906, probably around the time that William completed his service as a Pupil Teacher, his father died. This may explain why William did not enter teacher training college until 1908. That autumn, he enrolled for a three-year course at the Glasgow Provincial Training College, forerunner of Jordanhill College of Education, now the University of Strathclyde, to become a primary school teacher. Students on this course were also required to matriculate concurrently at the University of Glasgow and to take some of their classes there and others at the College. Those who completed successfully were rewarded with two qualifications: the Teacher’s General Certificate and a University degree.

In his first year, William took University classes in Latin and Maths. He made smooth progress through the Arts Faculty, passing all his exams first time. He studied Logic and Higher Maths in his second year, and Education, Natural Philosophy and English in his final year, also winning 5th prize in Logic and Metaphysics. He graduated M.A. in 1911. In the summer of that year, William completed his professional training at the College and was recognised as a Certificated Teacher with additional qualifications to teach Drawing and Physical Exercises in primary schools. He taught at Calder Street Public School from the 14th March to the 4th April 1912, then at Kilsyth Academy, Camelon Public School in Falkirk and Copeland Road Public School in Govan. He was appointed to Kinning Park Public School in Govan on 21st April 1913.

Whilst teaching during the day, William pursued further studies in his spare time by enrolling for evening classes at the Royal Technical College of Glasgow, forerunner of the University of Strathclyde. In session 1912-1913 he took Practical Physics I, Inorganic Chemistry Lectures I, and Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory I, earning second-class certificates of merit for each. In session 1913-1914, he returned to take Inorganic Chemistry Lectures II and Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory II.

When war broke out, William enlisted right away, on the 14th September 1914. He served in France as a Private with Lochiel’s Camerons and was wounded at Loos. He was later commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Durham Light Infantry and served in France, attached to the Wiltshire Regiment. The Battalion was due for a spell of rest and refit when the men were overwhelmed by a German attack at the 3rd Battle of the Aisne (27th May-6th June). Lieutenant Grindlay was killed, most likely on the 30th May 1918, a date confirmed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and by the local newspaper, the Kilsyth Chronicle. The news stirred public interest in the town and beyond as William was the third Grindlay son to die in the war, with a fourth son convalescing after being wounded. Their sisters and widowed mother had suffered a terrible loss. Lieutenant William Grindlay is remembered on the Soissons Memorial at Aisne; the Kilsyth war memorial; the Roll of Honour of the Glasgow Provincial Committee for the Training of Teachers; the Glasgow Provincial Training College War Memorial, located in the David Stow Building on the former Jordanhill Campus, and the Roll of Honour of the Royal Technical College of Glasgow.


2nd Lieutenant William Grindlay
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Regiment: Durham Light Infantry
Degree: MA
Awards: N/A
Comments: Killed in action 30 May 1918
Note/Press Clipping: Ch 4/4/2/3/708, 1044
Photo ID: N/A


University of Glasgow Registry and General Council Records (R/8/5/29-31/3) (R7/3/5)

University of Glasgow Roll of Honour Ch4/4/2/3/708,1044

CWGC Debt of Honour

Kilsyth Chronicle, 14th June 1918 (British Newspaper Archive Online)

Scotland’s People

With thanks to Anne Cameron for providing additional information from the University of Strathclyde archives

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