b. 28/02/1888 Armadale, Scotland. d. 14/06/1959 Carluke, Lanarkshire.
William Angus (1888-1959) was born at 16 Pulkemmet Road, Armadale, Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland on 28th February 1888. His father was George Angus, an iron miner. His mother, Margaret nee Malloy was a jelly worker in 1881. Both his parents hailed originally from Ireland. The family moved to Carluke, Lanarkshire when William was very young. William had seven siblings, four brothers and three sisters.
William was educated at St Athanasius Roman Catholic School, Carluke until 1902 and was then employed as a miner. He played professionally for Glasgow Celtic in 1911 and later joined Wishaw Athletic as captain. During a recruiting campaign in Carluke in August 1914, Colour Sergeant George Cavan enlisted William Angus and James Martin into 8th Highland Light Infantry. Both men were keen to get into action and volunteered for attachment to 8th Royal Scots. William went to France on 17th February 1915. He received a gun shot wound to the leg at Festubert six weeks later and was in hospital in Boulogne for three weeks.
On 12th June 1915 at Givenchy, France, Lance-Corporal Angus voluntarily left his trench under very heavy bomb and rifle fire and rescued a wounded officer (James Martin) who was lying within a few yards of the enemy's position. The lance-corporal had no chance of escaping the enemy's fire when undertaking this gallant deed, and in effecting the rescue he received about 40 wounds, some of them being very serious.
One of the results of his forty wounds, he was blinded in his left eye and lost part of his foot and calf. He was hospitalised at Boulogne and moved to Fort Pitt Military Hospital, Chatham on 17th July, where Lieutenant James Martin visited him. Queen Mary sent William a sleeping garment and a card wishing him good luck. His father was brought from Scotland to visit him in hospital on 26th July.
The Victoria Cross was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 30th August, with William dressed in the wounded soldier’s uniform. He was the first Scottish Territorial soldier to be awarded the VC. Hearing that William’s father was outside the Palace, the King insisted he was brought in and congratulated him on having such a brave son. Receptions were held at Carluke and Celtic Park in September. Every year on the anniversary of the VC action, James Martin would send his rescuer a telegram, “Congratulations on the 12th.
William had to wear a surgical shoe to rectify the imbalance caused by damage to his foot. This prevented him returning to active duty, but he served as a sergeant in the Cameronians on recruitment duties. He was invalided out of the Army in 1917. He married Mary Ann Nugent on 12th January 1917 at St Athanasius Roman Catholic Church, Carluke. The couple went on to have five children, four boys and a girl. Early in 1918, William joined the man who had recruited him, George Cavan, by then a Company Sergeant Major, at an official function in the Lanarkshire Yeomanry Drill Hall. Cavan returned to the front with 9th Highland Light Infantry and died of wounds in April 1918.
William was presented with a cheque for £1,000 by Lord Newlands, and used the money to start a haulage business with his brother-in-law, Harry Nugent, which they sold when they went to Australia in November 1927. He didn’t settle though and the venture was not a success. By 1928, he returned to the UK and settled in England, where he was employed as master of works at the Racecourse Betting Control Board in Middlesex until 1949. He and his wife then retired back to Carluke, but their grown up children remained south of the border. William became a JP and was President of Carluke Rovers FC where he was known simply as “The VC”.
Tragically, William’s 4th child, also William, was killed in action in 1945 serving as a Flying Officer in the RAFVR in Egypt. William died at Law Hospital, Carluke on 14th June 1959 and is buried in Wilton Cemetery, Carluke. His son Nugent manufactured the VC on his father’s headstone. In addition to the VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, King George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953. His medals are held by the National War Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh and are displayed alongside James Martin’s medals.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL WAR MUSEUM, EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND.
BURIAL PLACE: WILTON CEMETERY, CARLUKE, LANARKSHIRE, SCOTLAND.
William Angus' medals on display at the National War Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland.
(Picture - Andy Wright).
William Angus is buried in Section O Grave 36
War Illustrated, 18th September 1915
War Illustrated 3rd March 1917
Carluke, Scotland (Thomas Stewart)