A.T. Cluness

A.T. Cluness

Andrew Thomas Jamieson Cluness (1890-1966) was born in Colvadale, Unst. A good scholar, he went to the Anderson Educational Institute in Lerwick, after school in Unst. It was the only school in Shetland that prepared pupils for university entrance. In due course he gained a first class degree in classics at Edinburgh University, and became classics master at Berwickshire High School.

War intervened, he served and distinguished himself. He was wounded four times. He was awarded the Military Medal, and then a bar to it. “Do weel and persevere,” said the Institute motto. He had.

Peace came and he returned to civilian life, first in his old school, then home to Shetland and the Anderson Educational Institute. In 1924 he “entered on his kindly and scholarly headmastership” – a statement made by Jennie J. Smith, in the memorial volume produced for the Institute’s hundredth anniversary in 1962. He had a short piece in it himself and said of his classmates

For many there awaited in a few brief years but a grave on the Somme, or the Ancre, or by the Dardanelles, or no grave at all in the restless sea. Among those who perished were the Dux of 1905, Cyril Croker; the Dux of 1908, Alex. Campbell; and the Dux of 1911, Bertie Duthie. “They shall not grow old.”

He retired in 1952, to Uyeasound, Unst. He remained an important figure locally. He edited a book about Shetland for use in schools, “The Shetland Book.” Sadly it was published after he died in 1967.

By 2015 A.T. Cluness had become a historical figure, and the Anderson Educational Institute had become the Anderson High School. A group of pupils researched the fallen from the school’s memorial, and made a presentation about it. George Jamieson, an Unst man, and headmaster of the Anderson High School from 1982-1995, spoke at it about the A.T. Cluness he knew, and about his military record. War features strongly in the classics, and clearly A.T. could connect his own experience, and that of ancient times.

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A.T. Cluness and dog.
A.T. Cluness, 1935, on the yacht Soldian, with a favourite dog. Shetland Museum