Name Details

Name: Robert McOwan
Dates: 1896-1978
Notes: Private McOwan (later Acting Corporal), 16001, 16 Platoon, D Company, 6th Battalion Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, 1915-c.1919.
Joined the battalion as one of a draft of 250 just after the Battle of Loos in 1915; saw action at the Battles of the Somme and the Marne.

Mr Robert McOwan was born in the small town of Alva, in Clackmannanshire, in 1896 and attended Alva Academy. After service with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in the First World War he took advantage of schemes for returning ex -servicemen to train as a teacher. He taught initially in the primary department of Alva Academy and then became Head teacher at Menstrie primary school ( also in Clackmannanshire) in 1939/40. He remained there until his retirement in 1963. He died in 1978, aged 82.
McOwan was ahead of his time as a teacher, initiating school schemes which are now commonplace, including a football team, nature studies and ensuring all children could swim. In the days of corporal punishment he made harming wildlife a belting offence. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace and it was said of him that during his period as headmaster there was little or no juvenile crime in the village.
He was a keen angler , made his own rods and fishing flies and taught fly-making at evening classes. His fishing exploits included catching and successfully landing a 28lb salmon which took his lure when he was fishing with a trout rod. He was appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland to represent anglers on the Forth River Purification Board.
He was extremely proud of being a Cameron and although he said little about the war it is known he suffered from the effects of gassing and he sometimes experienced post -war stress. He kept his war demob kilt which his family still possess. In the Second World War he served as an air raid warden.
When he retired as headmaster, he and Mrs McOwan journeyed to France and Belgium and visited war sites. In one village where the Camerons had been billeted when in reserve the mayor laid on a civic reception for them and in another village he found the actual house where he had been billeted and a woman who was a small girl at the time remembered the Scottish soldiers being there.
He was an elder and parish treasurer of Menstrie Church of Scotland parish and there was a huge turn out of Menstrie people at his retirement ceremony and at his funeral.
He married Janet Ross, who was also a teacher, of Swinney Cottage, near Lybster, Caithness, and they had four children, Iain, twins Ann Rosemary and Robert Rennie and Isobel Jean.
[Information supplied by Lesley Clare McOwan, Robert McOwan's grand-daughter, May 2005].
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