Ossian Cameron was born on 27 February 1891 in Campbeltown in Argyllshire, to David Rutherford and Elizabeth Cameron. He had an older brother, Clement, then 7, and two older sisters, Mabel and Grace, who were 5 and 2 respectively. David was a quarter master sergeant in the Royal Artillery, which he had joined in 1875 in Sheerness – though he was from Granton, in Edinburgh (he was possibly born in Ireland). As his attestation papers show, David was then aged 23 years old and had worked as a blacksmith prior to that. At the time of the 1901 Census, David was not listed as an occupant, but the family had grown to include Hannah, then 8, Theresa, 1 and Nellie, 5. Theresa had been born in Paisley, where the family were living by this point, at 19 Neilson Street. On Census night 1901, David was staying with Elizabeth’s parents, John and Mary Lankenau, in Plumstead, London, and his occupation was given as ‘Army Pensioner’. In the 1881 Census, John was working at the Woolwich Arsenal as a driver, whilst Elizabeth was a domestic servant. David and Elizabeth were married in Woolwich in the summer of 1881. Elizabeth was born on 21 Feb 1863, but was baptised in Plumstead in 1878; her father’s occupation was then given as a foreman. In the same census, David was listed as being a sergeant in the Royal Artillery in Woolwich, albeit with his place of birth given as Ireland. As the Royal Artillery Barracks were based in Woolwich, it is a reasonable assumption that David had met Elizabeth whilst based in Woolwich. The family’s subsequent moves around Britain – at least to Paisey and then at some point to Borstal and Chatham – were very likely to have been driven by David’s career.
At some point between 1901 and 1906, the family had moved to the south of England. Ossian enlisted in 1906 in Chatham for the Royal Marine Light Infantry (then based in Chatham), when he was underage – for his first years in the army, he served as a bugler. His father’s address was given as Fort Borstal in Rochester, whilst his mother’s was given as Torquay. Fort Borstal had only been finished in 1893, and before the First World War was in use as a redoubt for light infantry, providing for the storage of artillery (see Smith, 2011). It is not clear what David’s connection with the Fort was, but it presumably meant that the family had sufficient connection with the village for Ossian to be listed on the St Matthew’s Roll of Honour. Ossian’s service record indicated that his religion was Church of England, so he may have attended services at St Matthew’s. His older sister, Mabel, married in 1909 at St John’s Church in Chatham, and her husband, Charles Grinham, was the supervisor of a power station at the Chatham Dockyard. By 1911, David, Elizabeth and Theresa were living at Tunbury Avenue, Robin Hood Lane. It is probable that their house was on the corner of these two roads, and later named ‘Ivy Lodge’. David was again listed as an Army Pensioner, whilst Theresa was still at school.
After enlistment, Ossian was based at the Chatham Division until January 1908, when he embarked as a bugler on HMS Venerable; a further stint at the Chatham Division and Depot until he came of age ensued. In 1910, he embarked again on HMS Africa, this time as a Private, and in 1912, left for the Royal Engineers, serving as a Pioneer. Although Ossian’s performance and conduct in the Marines was generally marked as ‘very good’, he was detained for 21 days in 1913 for being absent and losing equipment whilst serving in Cork. Ossian’s regimental number in the Royal Marine Light Infantry was 15134.
It is not clear what happened to Ossian during the course of the First World War. He was awarded the British, Victory and 1914 medals for his service, having seen action from November 1914. By early 1918, however, he was a patient at the Royal Herbert Hospital in Woolwich, which was looking after the wounded. Ossian died on 15 January 1918, and was buried in the military cemetery at Fort Pitt.
Ossian’s page on Every Man Remembered can be found here: http://www.everymanremembered.org/profiles/soldier/3057227/
Ancestry.com. Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.
London Metropolitan Archives, Plumstead St Margaret, Register of Baptism, p97/mgt, Item 113
1891 Scotland Census, Parish: Campbeltown; ED: 16; Page: 15; Line: 6; Roll: CSSCT1891_165
Ossian Cameron in 1911 Census: Class: RG14; Piece: 3962; Schedule Number: 40
Other Camerons in 1911: Class: RG14; Piece: 3964; Schedule Number: 133
Mabel Cameron in 1911: Class: RG14; Piece: 3952; Schedule Number: 401
National Army Museum; Chelsea, London, England; Soldiers’ Effects Records, 1901-60; NAM Accession Number: 1991-02-333; Record Number Ranges: 0646001-0647500; Reference: 382
Military-Genealogy.com, comp. UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.
David Cameron: Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
David Cameron in 1881 Census: Class: RG11; Piece: 745; Folio: 41; Page: 11; GSU roll: 1341174
David Cameron in 1901 Census: Class: RG13; Piece: 573; Folio: 52; Page: 30
Lankenaus in 1901 Census: Class: RG13; Piece: 573; Folio: 52; Page: 30
Lankenaus in 1881 Census: Class: RG11; Piece: 754; Folio: 91; Page: 56; GSU roll: 1341177
The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls; Class: WO 329; Piece Number: 2418
The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Judge Advocate General’s Office: District Courts Martial Registers, Home and Abroad; Series: WO 86; Piece Number: 62
Ossian’s service record in the Royal Marine Light Infantry: National Archives, adm/159/124, image 779
Find A Grave: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=32701993&ref=acom
The War Graves Photographic Project: https://www.twgpp.org/photograph/view/3391908
Fort Borstal: http://www.fortborstal.co.uk/history.php
Smith, Victor C. ‘Kent’s Twentieth-Century Military and Civil Defences. Part 2 – Medway’, Archaeologica Cantiana, 131 (2011) 159-195, available at http://www.kentarchaeology.org.uk/Research/Pub/ArchCant/131-2011/131-09.pdf