Time Gunners remembered
Honouring Edinburgh's First Time Gunner.
At the age of nineteen James Findley son of a weaver left his native Riccarton a small parish in Ayrshire just south of Kilmarnock where Malcolm Wallace father of William Wallace is said to have been born. He enlisted in the Royal Artillery that same year of 1822 when recruits were sign on as Gunner and Driver.
In 1853 Russia sent troops to defend Christians within the Ottoman empire and Turkey declared war. Britain and France to prevent Russian expansionism declared war in 1854 by invading Crimea. Soon the Russians were besieging Sebastopol.
James the following year 1855 was stationed in Malta to be transferred to the new formed Land Transport Corps. In order to move supplies from the harbours to the encampments and support the British Army.
They immediately proved their worth. In November a huge explosion erupted in a French ammunition dump killing many officers and men. Nearby the British were ready in case sparks transmitted from the French blast fell on their ammunition dump. James Findley was one of the brave men who were injured in the successful attempt to diminish the danger.
For his reward he was awarded the rank of Ensign in 1856, in that same year the Land Transport Corps organised to become the Military Train.
James transferred back to the Royal Artillery and later became a Master Gunner in the 5th Division at Leith Fort.
At Carlton Hill Edinburgh a bronze cannon captured at Sebastopol sits next the Nelson Monument where the Time Ball initiated the time clock mechanism to fire the Edinburgh Castle one o’clock Gun.
James Findley was designated Scotland’s Chief Master Gunner for his part in the improved firing methods and his positive capabilities.
Sadly in 1862 he died of Tuberculosis in the Castle Military Hospital and was given full military honours. He is interned in the Church yard at St Cuthbert’s Edinburgh.
To honour the first gunner an event was arranged recently by the One o'clock gun Association http://1oclockgun.org to show the appreciation of the Scot’s people and Regiments involved in the care and firing of the one o’clock gun. A tombstone donated by James Findlays distantly related niece is pictured above.
Edward McCarthy (above) was invited to take part in the ceremony as he is the Scottish Senior surviving one clock Gunner in Scotland.
Eddie as he is known, took over from Bill Taylor in the late sixties as a member of the Royal Corps of Transport. Firing the prodigious Edinburgh time gun entitled him to wear the badge of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. Strangely we see a similarity with James Findley, the first Time Gunner both serving in similar units of the British Army.
The gun was a standard 25 Ponder an effective all round Artillery piece. There was four of these 25 ponders in case of a twenty gun salute which had to be meticulously cleaned by Gunner Eddie.
As an important part of Edinburgh tradition the gun had to be fired six days a week, except Sundays, unless the Sunday fell on Armistice day. The only other days off would be Good Friday and Christmas.
Eddie gunner saw many high profile guest from heads of state to the Duke of Edinburgh. His greatest thrill was meeting and being photographed by ordinary people from all over the world.
A memory Eddie has retained is chastising the lone piper from standing on the wall of the castle forgetting it was practice for the Edinburgh Tattoo.
Eddie is now interested in local history as one of the Twa Eddies of the Time Gun and Time Ball web site.