"An old photograph, torn and tattered and stained, And fading to yellow in a brown
(From Eric Bogle's ballad "No Man's Land".)
William Baird was born in July 1896 in Buchanhaven, the eldest son of William Baird and Isabella Duthie.
Young William was a clever lad and his school teacher tried to encourage him to remain at school. However the boy's father was by all accounts a hard man who expected his children to earn their own living. So, rather than furthering his education, William was set to work in his father's coopering yard, earning 2 shillings and six pence a week.
Isabella Duthie, William's mother, died in childbirth in 1913 and William Snr remarried soon afterwards.
William junior, enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders on the day war was declared, much to the disapproval of his father. He was several weeks past his eighteenth birthday and like so many young men, he probably saw the war as a release from the drudgery of his daily life, and an opportunity for adventure and excitement. William Baird did not go overseas with the Battalion in May 1915, possibly because he was not then 19 years old - the official age for overseas' service. He spent some time in the 3/5th Gordon Highlanders where he trained as a signaller. (photo).It was not until 1917 or 1918 that he was in France. In the big German advance in early 1918 he was captured along with thousands of other British soldiers and he remained a prisoner until the Armistice. See his medal card.
By 1919 he was back in Peterhead and in July of that year he married. William Baird died in 1947.
The two children in the photograph are William's brother George, born only a year before his mother's death and left to the care of relatives, and sister Catherine, who did not marry and lived with her father and his second wife.