Bo'ness teenage soldier's grave marked with CWGC headstone

Relatives of a teenage soldier who died over 100 years ago joined a community to mark his grave receiving a Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) headstone.

Private Michael Muldoon was only 18 years old when he was killed at Whinnyhall Shooting Range, Burntisland on November 14, 1917 after being accidently shot during a training exercise.

A dedication for the new gravestone took place in Bo’ness Cemetery on Saturday.

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The service was led at the graveside by Father Forrest of St Mary’s RC Church in the town. Also attending were Michael’s relatives Laura Burns and Alan McCann, the Lord Lieutenant of Stirling and Falkirk Alan Simpson, Patricia Keppie of CWGC, representatives of the Royal British Legion and other local dignitaries.

Bo'ness Fair Queen Ellie Van Der Hoek and the Lord Lieutenant Alan Simpson in the procession to the grave of Private Michael Muldoon

Piper Walter Williamson played while bugler Lauren Robb of Kinneil Band played the Last Post in remembrance of Michael and the 37 other servicemen buried in Bo’ness Cemetery.

Pupils from St Mary’s Primary School attended and Charlotte Jobling and Jack Torrance read out details of Michael’s young life before joining up.

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After remembrance prayers from Father Forrest, the lowering of the Royal British Legion standards and a minute’s silence, wreaths were laid by the Lord Lieutenant, Private Muldoon’s family, CWGC, outgoing Provost Billy Buchanan and the Without Fear project.

Flowers were also placed at the grave by Bo’ness Fair Queen Ellie Van Der Hoek.

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The grave for Private Michael Muldoon in Bo'ness Cemetery

Private Muldoon, was in the Royal Scots Fusiliers, 9th Battalion, converted into 55th Training Reserve Battalion, and stationed at Kinghorn in Fife when the tragedy occurred.

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His name appears on the Bo’ness War Memorial but, although he is buried in Bo’ness Cemetery, his grave was previously not commemorated by the CWGC, even though he fitted their category 1 criteria for commemoration.

Michael’s story was told in the book Without Fear - World War 1 Stories of the Men on the Bo’ness War Memorial, and the co-authors Robert Jardine, Richard Hannah and Alan Gow highlighted this to CWGC.

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With the help of Michael’s relatives in Bo’ness and other online groups further information was provided, and as a result CWGC recently installed a granite CWGC headstone.

Private Michael Muldoon's relatives Laura Russell and Alan McCann, along with those from the Without Fear Project Robert Jardine, Alan Gow and Richard Hannah.
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Richard Hannah of the Without Fear Project said: “We are all thrilled that after 105 years Private Michael Muldoon’s grave is commemorated with a CWGC headstone. It was a fitting service for a brave young man and we couldn’t be more pleased with the service.

"On behalf of the Without Fear project we would like to thank all those who made this happen, all those who took time out to attend the service and Martin Brown for producing stunning photographs of the occasion”.

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The event took place during CWGC War Graves Week which has the theme this year of “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Times”.

The Without Fear Project was set up by Bo’ness Town Trust Association in 2017 involving the three local amateur researchers who have a special interest in World War One in the area.

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The community project received funding from the Heritage Fund ‘First World War: then and now’ grant programme, and fulfilled its aim of shining a light on the Bo’ness men who made the ultimate sacrifice during the First World War.