On 15 Oct 1918 Corporal Henry McBeath died in Limerick. He was 39 years old.
Born in Loth on 12 November 1878, Henry (or Harry as he was sometimes known) was the son of James Gordon McBeath (1838-1894) and Johan née Macleod (1835-1913). Henry was employed as a ploughman on Rovie Farm before his occupation was listed as a mason in the 1901 census.
He first enlisted in the 31st Battalion of the Imperial Yeomanry, a mounted unit known as Fincastle’s Horse, to fight in the Second Boer War in South Africa in 1902, when McBeath was in his mid 20s. It seems likely that, after his return from South Africa he served as a police officer with Edinburgh Constabulary (he is pictured on the left) but by 1911 he was working as a stoker in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh.
In September 1911 Henry married Susan Gray, a domestic servant and they had a son, James, later that year.
At the outbreak of the First World War and approaching his 36th birthday, Henry enlisted again in Edinburgh, on 4 September 1914, this time serving as a Corporal in the 2nd/1st Scottish Horse Yeomanry. His regimental number of 150288.
This battalion formed in September 1914 and remained in the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland, moving throughout the war to Kettering in Northamptonshire, Alford in Lincolnshire and Ladybank in Fife after it became a cyclist unit, before finally moving to Limerick in Ireland in April 1918 as part of the effort to quell revolutionary actions against the British in the south of Ireland, where it remained for the final months of the war.
Henry succumbed to the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918/1919. A total of 36 soldiers, in Limerick alone, fell victim to the disease, and Henry’s company suffered eight such losses.
Henry is buried in King’s Island Military Cemetery, Limerick, Eire and his name is inscribed on Rogart’s war memorial. He is also commemorated at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh.
Thanks to Alex Campbell, Eiden for the photograph of his grand uncle and to Ian MacKay for his research.