Medals honouring the sacrifice of a Neilston soldier during the Great War have been returned to his family – a century after his death.

Private Robert McMaster, of the 8th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, was killed on the battlefields of France in 1918 at the age of 19.

Relatives who still live in the village had no idea where his War Medal and Victory Medal had ended up but, thanks to some detective work by the Neilston War Memorial Association (NWMA), these have now been traced and handed to them.

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Volunteer researchers found the medals on sale from a collector in Shawlands and paid £80 to secure them before presenting them to Colin McMaster, who is Robert’s great-nephew.

Colin, 51, told the Barrhead News: “The medals had been with our grandfather’s family and the eldest son will have inherited them but you know what families are like – someone will have sold them somewhere down the line.

Barrhead News:

Colin McMaster with his great uncle's medals.

“We did know there were medals, as well as other information about Robert, because of work done by the NWMA. The work they do is outstanding, it really is.

“I have been in quite close contact with the researchers and all of my family now have bits and pieces to remember Robert.

“We are planning to get the medals put into a frame with his picture and hopefully make a nice display.

“We really are over the moon. Although £80 may not be a huge amount of money, it was so nice of them to do this for the family.”

Robert was serving near Wancourt, in the north of France, when he was killed on Sunday, March 24, 1918.

He was one of many young men from Neilston who fought and died in the First World War.

After years of work, NWMA has been able to gather details of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and is keen to make sure that, where possible, medals are returned to the families of those who were killed in action.

Ian Strickland, who traced Robert’s medals, believes they may have made a long journey before being found just a few miles from Neilston.

Barrhead News:

He said: “You just don’t know where medals will turn up. People have them tucked away in a drawer or in the attic for years without even realising.

“I know a few guys who collect medals themselves and they keep an eye out.”

To read more about the work being done by the NWMA, visit