The following CAIRNCROSSes are known to have been on active military service. The list, unfortunately, is incomplete:

1392 The Raid of Angus
Simon de Carncors was killed by the Highlanders, as set forth in the chapter in Section I, entitled "THE RAID OF ANGUS".

1646 The Scottish Rebellion
As recorded in the chapter entitled "THE CAIRNCR0SSes of REDPATH", in 1646 Nicol Cairncross in Redpath having been killed by the enemy, his widow Isobel Pringle petitioned Parliament for the support of her six children.

1650 The Invasion of England
Patrick Cairncross was a captain in the army of the Duke of Hamilton, as recorded in the chapter entitled "THE CAIRNCROSSes of BALMASHANNER".

1680 Walter Cairncross took part in the advance against the "rebels in arms in the West" - vide page 78.

1745 Culloden
Thomas Cairncross was a volunteer in Lord Ogilvie's Regiment.

1808 - 1814 The Peninsula War

a. Alexander Cairncross, eventually Lt. Colonel of the 94th (Scots) Regiment, took part in seventeen battles and engagements, as detailed in the chapter entitled "THE CAIRNCROSSes of MONIFIETH PARISH".

b. John Cairncross, principal clerk in the Royal Artillery, was present at twelve battles, detailed in the chapter referred to above.

c. Lt. Gen. Sir Joseph Hugh Carncross of the Royal Artillery served in eight battles and received the Gold Cross, vide Appendix No.7.


1854 - 1855 The Baltic
John Cairncross, Major-General, born 14th March, 1835, son of Lt.-Col. Alexander Carincross, K.H., 96th Regt. He entered the army in 1854, becoming a Major-General in 1889 and retiring in 1892. He died on 30th October, 1914. He served in the Russian War in 1855; in Central America in 1856 - 57; commanded the Royal Marine Depot, Walmer, 1887 - 88; was Colonel-Commandant of the Portsmouth Division, Royal Marines Light Infantry, 1888 - 89.

1879 The Zulu War
Charles Cairncross (son of Thomas) served in the Intelligence.

1880 - 1881 The First Anglo-Boer War
Charles Cairncross (son of Thomas) was a burger in the Boer forces of the Transvaal Republic.

1896 The Matabele Rebellion
Archibald Campbell Cairncross was a trooper in the Matabeleland Mounted Police (see Appendix No. 10).

1899 -1902 The Anglo-Boer War

a. Herbert William Cairncross served with the Railway Pioneer Corps.
b. Frederick Andrew Cairncross was a trooper in Kitchener's Light Horse.
c. William Edward, son of John Cairncross, served with a Transvaal Burger Commando at the investment of Makeking, being taken prisoner.
d. John Charles, son of John Cairncross, served with a Transvaal Burger Commando at the investment of Mafeking, being taken prisoner. Later he was a member of the Wellington Town Guard.
e. Thomas, son of Thomas Cairncross, served with the Vrede Burger Commando.
f. Thomas Daniel, son of the preceding Thomas Cairncross, also served with the Vrede Burger Commando.
g. John George Roscher Cairncross was Adjutant to General Prinsloo of the Boer Forces, escaping when the latter surrendered to the British on 29th July, 1900, near Slaapkraal, Fouriesburg district. He continued fighting until finally captured in mid- 1901 near Vrede.
h. Cyrus Hay Cairncross, of Australia, served with an Australian unit.
i. William McGregor Cairncross, of Australia, served as a Lieutenant with the Cape Town Highlanders.


1899 -1902 (continued)

j. Archibald Campbell Cairncross, a trooper in the British South Africa Police. He was present at the relief of Mafeking. (See appendix No. 10).
k. Charles Cairncross (son of Thomas) was a Lieutenant and Adjutant in the State Artillery of the Boer Forces. He was taken prisoner at the Sand River Battle (1900) and sent to Ceylon.
l. Charles Anderson Fisher Cairncross served with the Stellenbosh District Mounted Troop,
m. Thomas Wilson Cairncross, latterly City Engineer of Cape Town. About 1908 the following paragraph appeared in a Cape Town newspaper: "An interesting ceremony took place at the Drill Hall yesterday morning just prior to the Cape Town Highlanders marching off to church. The regiment, to the number of about 200, including the newly-formed Cadet Companies, paraded in the hall. The occasion was the presentation of the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officer's decoration to Major Cairncross ... (follows a list of other persons present). "Col. Stanford read the records of Major Cairncross after which His Excellency pinned the decorations on their breasts". "In reference to Major Cairncross" Said Col. Stanford, "This is the first decoration earned by an officer for continuous service in the regiment. Major Cairncross has, however, seen previous service, for in 1865 he joined the 1st Lanark Volunteers, leaving the following year to serve in His Imperial Ottoman Majesty's Navy on board the Candia, built as an American blockade runner, which had been purchased by the Turkish Government for the purpose of putting down piracy. On this duty Major Cairncross served for some time on the East Coast of the Adriatic, the Gulf of Salonica, and other gulfs in the Aegean Sea. In South Africa, his first connection with Volunteering was in 1586 as an honorary member of the regiment to which he still belongs. In March of the following year he received his commission as Hon. Captain and Paymaster, which appointment he has now held for over 20 years, and in which capacity he served throughout the late war, being released from active service after three years military duty. He is in possession of the Queen's and King's medals".

1914 - 1918 The Great War.

a. Archibald Campbell Cairncross enlisted in August, 1914, in the Rhodesian Platoon of theKing's Royal Rifle Corps, landing in the trenches at Weisgaet on New Year's Day, 1915. He participated in numerous engagements in France during 1915, 1916 and 1917, serving also in Salonika. Crippled with trench feet and badly wounded in Polygonwood, he was invalided out of the army in 1917. (See Appendix No. 10).
b. Alexander Lombard Cairncross was a Sapper in the South African Engineering Corps and the South African Field Telegraphs during the South West African Campaign (1915) participating in the fight at Seeheim. He then became a Lieutenant in the King's African Rifles, serving through the East African Campaign (1916 - 1917), being present at the battles of Lukigura, Wami River, Tandamuti Hill, Mtama, Nangu, Songea, and Rawuna River.
c. Herbert James Cairncross was a corporal signaller attached to the 7th South African Infantry, 9th South African Horse, Cape Corps, and 10th South African Infantry, in the East African campaign. Enlisting on 3rd July, 1915, he fought at Salita Hill, Favita Kondoa Irangi, and Morrogora, being slightly wounded at Salita Hill. He was discharged in August, 1918, suffering from malaria fever.


d. Bertram Lilburne Cairncross enlisted on 6th September, 1916, in the 1st South African Horse and, on the disbanding of that corps, in the 1st South African Infantry on 3rd April, 1917. He served in France and Belgium, and was severely wounded in the ankle on 20th September, 1917, in the attack on the Passchendaele Ridge, being invalided out of the army on the 12th October, 1918.
e. Douglas Gordon Cairncross served through the South West African Campaign in 1915 with the Cape Town Highlanders, and in the East African Campaign, 1916 - 18, with the S.A.S.C. (M.T.).
f. Alexander Cairncross, son of Arthur of Angus, Scotland, enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery, being gassed and wounded in France.
g. John Colmslie Cairncross, son of Arthur of Angus, Scotland, enlisted at the age of 16 in the Royal Marines. He attained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, retiring in 1951.
h. George, son of Donald of Hull, England, was killed in France in November, 1918.
i. Thomas George Cairncross served with the Bloemhof Commando.
j. Lt. Cyril Cutten Carncross of New Zealand was killed in action at Passchendaele in 1917.
k. Major Claude Walter Carncross served with the New Zealand forces.

1939 - 1945. World War II

a. Douglas Cairncross, son of Herbert, was a sapper in the South African Engineering Corps, 85th Coy. Union Defence Force, Italy.


b. Reuben Cairncross, son of Herbert, was a private in A. Company, I.L.H., Kimberley, in North Africa and Italy.
c. Melville Andrew Cairncross, son of Herbert, was an Air Mechanic in the 27th Squadron of the South African Air Force in North Africa and Italy.
d. Raymond Lilburne Cairncross was a telegraphist in the South African Naval Force, mine sweeping and patrolling.
e. Robert James Cairncross was a Lieutenant and Instructor in the South African Air Force.
f. Douglas Cairncross, son of John G.R.C., was a sergeant in the Transvaal Scottish, being wounded in North Africa.
g. Lilian Dorothy Cairncross was a nurse in the South African Military Nursing Services.
h. Ellen Cairncross, wife of Thomas George Cairncross, served with the South African Military Nursing Services.
i. F. J. Cairncross was Leading Stoker in the Sloop Yarra of the Australian Navy. His ship was sunk in action against the Japanese in March, 1942, off the coast of Java. The following paragraph appeared in a South African newspaper shortly afterwards: "Colombo ... The last gallant action of the Australian Sloop Yarra (Lt. Com. R.W. Rankin. R.A.N) against impossible odds was described to Reuter today by Leading Stoker Cairncross, of Sydney. The Yarra was lost in the naval actions off Java a few weeks ago. At dawn early in March, said Stoker Cairncross, the Yarra, while escorting a small convoy, sighted a hostile force of three heavy cruisers and four destroyers. Laying a smoke screen, the Yarra ordered her charges to scatter and then advanced. She engaged the Japanese warships for 90 minutes with her three four-inch guns. The result was inevitable, but before the order to abandon ship was given the Yarra had scored several hits on the enemy, including one on the bridge of a heavy cruiser. All the Yarra' s boats were smashed and the 200 men on board - 160 crew and 40 Dutch survivors of merchantmen she had picked up earlier - had to cling to rafts and floats. Stoker Cairncross and 33 others in a group on two floats had no provisions and only one jar of water. Twenty-one of them died before they were rescued by a warship after drifting for a week."


j. Walter Cyril Carncross of New Zealand served with a bomber squadron of the Air Force based in England.
k. Clive Cutten Carncross of New Zealand served with a fighter squadron of the Air Force in the Pacific.
The following ten descendants of David Cairncross of Haarlem served with the Cape Corps:
l. Abraham M. Cairncross.
m. James Cairncross. (Taken prisoner at Tobruk)
n. Daniel Cairncross
o. David Cairncross
p. James R. Cairncross
q. John Cairncross
r. John Cairncross
s. James R. Cairncross
t. Michael Cairncross
u. Porus Cairncross


1952 Korea

Michael Cairncross, son of Alexander, a pilot in the South African Air Force. He was decorated with the American Air Medal, the citation reading as follows:

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - To all who shall see these presents greeting. This is to certify that the President of the United States of America, Authorised by Executive Order, May 11, 1942, has awarded THE AIR MEDAL to SECOND LIEUTENANT MICHAEL CAIRNCROSS, South African Air Force, for MARITORIOUS ACHIEVEMENT while participating in Aerial Flight, 13th July, 1952, to 13th August, 1952. Given under my hand in the City of Washington this 13th day or September, 1952.

General United States Air Force
Commanding Far East Air Forces.

By direction of PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Second Lieutenant MICHAEL CAIRNCROSS, South African Air Force has been awarded the AIR MEDAL.
CITATION: Second Lieutenant MICHAEL CAIRNCROSS distinguished himself by MERITORTUS ACHIEVEMENT while participating in Aerial Flight as. Pilot - 2nd Squadron, South African Air Force, Fifth United States Air Force from 13th July to 13th August, 1952. During that period, he greatly aided the effort of the United Nations Forces and seriously restricted the military potential of the enemy. Flying at dangerously low altitudes in adverse weather over enemy held territory, Lieutenant Cairncross rocketed, strafed and bombed enemy supplies, troops, equipment and transportation facilities. Through his aggressive leadership, courage and superior flying skill, Lieutenant Cairncross reflected great credit upon himself, the FAR EAST AIR FORCES and the SOUTH AFRICAN AIR FORCE.

In 1952 members of the family in South Africa were invited to place their war medals in a collection, in trust at Glendearg. The response was generous, and by 1959 fifty-five medals awarded to nineteen individuals, all South African Cairncrosses, had been placed in the collection, which is now the largest family group in the country, and in fact, in the world. The medals cover five wars - the Matabele Rebellion of 1896, the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, The Great War of 1914-18, the World War of 1939-45, and the Korean War of 1952.

Recently the Africana Museum, Johannesburg, acquired the first Victoria Cross to be awarded in South Africa, that of Major Moore, on 29th Dec., 1877, in the 9th Kaffir War. To mark the occasion, the Museum arranged an exhibition of medals and decorations, and at the request of the Museum, the Cairncross group was included in the exhibition. The group attracted considerable attention, both in South Africa and overseas, particularly in London, and has been the subject of a number of articles. The Director of the South African National War Museum recently asked that the group be placed in his Museum. As this Museum has the finest collection of war medals in the Commonwealth, the request is in the nature of a compliment and a tribute.


The nineteen South African Cairncrosses and their fifty-five medals are as follows:

A. C. Cairncross61896, 1899/1902, 1914/18
T. W. C-31899/1902
H. W. C-11899/1902
J. C. C-11899/1902
C. C-11899/1902
D. G. C-41914/18, 1939/45
A. L. C-41914/18
B. L. C-21914/18
T. G. C-11914/18
R. C-61939/45
M. A. C-61939/45
D. C-51939/45
Lilian D. C-21939/45
Ellen C-21939/45
J. R. C-21939/45
R. J. C-21939/45
R. L. C-31939/45
T. D. C-11939/45
M. C-31952

About a dozen war medals (including the Royal Red Cross) to seven other South African Cairncrosses remain outside the collection.

Click here to go back to the Title page.

Click here to go back to the CONTENTS page.

Click here for the Kings of Scotland.

Click here to go to APPENDIX No. 9.