The Reverend John Drew

The Reverend John Drew

The Rev. John Drew was the minister of Armadale Parish Church - idealistic, energetic and popular. Born in Newton Stewart, he was the son of the Earl of Galloway’s chamberlain, who was also the county convener of Wigtownshire. After education at Fettes and Oxford, he came to Armadale in 1909.

When war broke out, he was deeply troubled about where his duty lay. He became convinced that Germany was an evil, militaristic force which had to be defeated. Though clergymen were not expected to enter the war as combatants, and although he was already 37, his conscience would not allow him to leave the fighting to others, and in 1914 he enlisted in the famous McCrae’s Battalion, the 16th Royal Scots.

On 25 December 1914 the West Lothian Courier reported:

This week, the Reverend John Drew who joined Sir G McCrae’s Battalion as a private, has been promoted to the rank of Sergeant.  This promotion has been specially appreciated by the 30 odd men of West Lothian, who are in the same battalion, and who are bracketed together, and recognise Sergeant Drew as their leader. 

In 1915, he was commissioned as an officer. After completion of his training, he was transferred to the Black Watch and went to France. During each of his home leaves, he dashed back to Armadale, and busied himself about his parish business. When he was away, he did not forget Armadale, but wrote letters home that were read out at all important occasions like Christmas and the gala days.

Towards the end of the war, he suffered from shell shock. He was discharged from the army in 1919 and returned to Armadale, but his health was breaking down. In 1922 he resigned from his charge in Armadale, at the aged of 45 – yet another casualty of the war. He was never able to take up a parish again, and died in 1950 aged 73.

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The Rev. John Drew. (West Lothian Local History Library)