Presentations to medal winners
In many towns, local people wanted to acknowledge the award of gallantry medals to local lads. Their motivations probably varied: the wish to honour deeds of bravery; to thank the soldiers for risking their lives; or it may have been a desire to help the soldiers’ families in his absence (in which case the recognition took the form of money); or a wish to bask in reflected glory; or perhaps the motivation was guilt for being safe at home while the men were risking their lives at the front.
The presentations might be organised by the local burgh council, or by a church, club or society, or just by a group of friends and workmates. It might take the form of a medal, as in Armadale Burgh, or the award of ‘treasury notes’ as in Broxburn, or as at Fauldhouse, a present of a pipe, a teapot and a silver-mounted biscuit barrel!
On 3 March 1918, the Midlothian Advertiser reported:
Presentation to military medallist
There was a gathering of the members of the [Greenburn] Golf Club [in Fauldhouse] in the Institute on Saturday night to do honour to two of their number who have gained distinction in the field, namely, Pte. Wm. Cairns, MM, and Lieut. William Brownlie, MC.
Mr Reyner, president of the club, made the presentation to Pte. Cairns, the gifts being a silver-mounted oak biscuit-barrel, a silver teapot, and a presentation pipe and tobacco. Mr Reyner in his remarks spoke of the pride of the members in the distinction that had been conferred on two of their most valued fellow-members, and he asked the gallant soldier to accept the gifts as a small expression of their admiration and esteem. Pte. Cairns feelingly replied. Lieut. Brownlie, MC, is expected home on leave in about a month, and his presentation will be held over till then.
Much credit is due to the Golf Club for making this, the first step in recognition of the bravery of our medallists. Other places have taken the matter up publicly and there is no reason why Fauldhouse, which has done so well in every kind of war effort, should lag behind in this. There are now ten local men who have won decorations, so there is plenty of scope for public action in this direction.