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The streets were lined with cheering crowds as the band played a selection of music that included ‘Roll of Honour’ and ‘Follow the Drum’. The town hall was located on the High Street, close to the top of Tolbooth Street.

The event started at 20.00 and the council chambers had been transformed to enable long tables of refreshments and cakes for the waiting guests. The corporation organist, Mr Gray, was at the piano as the ceremony opened with the National Anthem, followed by three cheers.

Attr: Daily Record - Wednesday 01 December 1915

Image © Mirrorpix/Reach Licensing.

Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

In his opening address, Provost Lockhart expressed his disappointment that the event was not open to more guests. He noted that, in the list of burgesses, volunteers as far back as 1644, and again in 1900 for the Boer War, had left these shores to fight on behalf of King and Country, and explained that Private Robert Anderson Dunsire’s name was joining a small but illustrious list from the last 100 years that included:


  • Three local gentlemen: Sir John Oswald of Dunnikier, Lord Loughborough and Colonel Ferguson of Raith.
  • Richard Cobden, an apostle of free trade, known for his opposition to the Corn Laws.
  • Sir William Vernon Harcourt, a lawyer, journalist and Liberal, who had once stood for the parliamentary seat of Kirkcaldy.
  • Marquis of Dufferin and Ava, who made his name in the Diplomatic Service and became the 8th Viceroy of India.
  • Andrew Carnegie, philanthropist.
  • The Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Asquith MP, another Liberal who, by the day of Robert’s ceremony, was Prime Minister of Great Britain.


In describing Robert’s act of valour, the provost explained how Robert ‘calmly and deliberately’ left the comparative safety of the trenches to make his two successful rescue attempts. ‘It was deeds like these that rose to the highest ideal of chivalry, touched the noblest aspiration of the race, absolute and fearless sacrifice’. The provost and magistrates then signed the Burgess Ticket before, to great applause, presenting it to Robert while expressing the hope he would return safely among them again. Once more the words of ‘For he’s a jolly good Fellow’ echoed round the room in recognition of that fine young and modest soldier, Robert Dunsire VC.

An image of the original Burgess Ticket follows:

Robert’s reply was delivered with his usual smile and humility. Among his comments was the following: ‘Accept my sincere and grateful thanks for making me a Burgess of the Burgh of Kirkcaldy and placing my name among those who were honoured before me – men of culture, learning, scholarship and skilled in languages and science.’ He pledged to do everything in his actions and power to uphold the dignity and honour of Kirkcaldy that this position expected of him.

Councillor Peter Herd of Whytebank, Kirkcaldy, toasted Robert’s wife and parents. Councillor Herd was the son of Coalmaster Walter Herd who had been the lessee of Dunnikier Colliery. When that was transferred into the hands of the Bowhill Coal Company then The Fife Coal Company Peter Herd remained a director of each Company. Councillor Herd was able to explain that he had known Robert’s father for many years and could testify to his ‘high character and the esteem in which he was held’. He also stated that Mrs Dunsire was a good wife and mother. Thomas Dunsire made a brief reply of thanks and his wife, Elizabeth, then made a brief speech in which she claimed her son to be a citizen of Kirkcaldy. His education, scholastic and musical, had taken place in Kirkcaldy.

The original scroll presented to Robert Anderson Dunsire VC is held in the Museum of The Royal Scots withing Edinburgh Castle. They have provided this image for use on this website.

Attr: Original Parchment held by the Museum of The Royal Scots

co-located with the Museum of the Royal Regiment of Scotland at Edinburgh Castle


Buckhaven, Methil and Innerleven Presentation & Testimonial

When Robert and Kate met the assembled company for the Presentation & Testimonial, organised by the Burgh of Buckhaven, Methil and Innerleven, on the afternoon of Saturday, 4 December 1915 they must have had very mixed emotions as they knew Robert’s return to France was imminent. However, the send-off he was about to receive must have put a skip in his step. 

The Fifeshire Advertiser summed it up meaningfully: ‘the climax on Saturday when the town in which he was born, the town where he resides and the parish, in which the family name is familiar for generations, united in delighting to honour this worthy son’.  

The musical entertainment that had been planned included the Buckhaven Orchestral Society, under Mr Terris’s baton, who played an entertaining selection. Buckhaven Town Band appeared on a second occasion to join in the tribute to a fellow musician. Other artists added their contribution, with Corporal Winter, Private Bartleman on Japanese violin, Private Stone and Bandsman Hodge. Miss Keir was the accompanist for the day. 

For a number of reasons several of the invited guests could not make it to Denbeath that day. Many sent their best wishes in their absence and Mr Carlow JP telephoned to add a further £5 (£500 today) to the testimonial. 

It is worthwhile considering a few of the quotes made by Provost Rose in his opening remarks, which are listed below: 


  • Present a memento of the regard his fellow townsman and others have for him. 
  • Private Dunsire is endowed with a courage and bravery which they could only admire and revere. 
  • His actions deserve the highest recommendation. 
  • If asked Private Dunsire would say that he only did his duty. 
  • The nerve of the man made the impossible possible. 
  • It was not a fanatical disregard of life or danger – it was the supreme control of the man over his actions, that control which enables a man to raise himself above his fellow men and demonstrate a distinguishing trait of his character. 
  • It is given to a few to be the possessor of a Victoria Cross, and it is an honour known the world over, it is an emblem which deserves the highest respect. 

 Provost Rose then presented Robert with an inscribed gold watch and chain, ‘From the Inhabitants of the burgh of Buckhaven, Methil and Innerleven and the Parish of Wemyss’. There was also £55 of war stocks. Kate was presented with a beautiful gold brooch, set with pearls and amethyst, that it was hoped she would wear on future occasions when out with Robert.  

Attr: The Family of Robert Dunsire VC

Robert expressed his deep gratitude for the gifts that he and Kate had received. When worn they would be much admired and would be looked upon as a token of the great kindness and respect shown to humble citizens and a soldier of our King and Country.

Robert then showed the humorous aspect of his character by saying, ‘If you are going to carry your appreciation of my humble service to my king and country much further, I fear the strain both upon my mind and body may be too much for me, and that the reaction may have serious consequences for my health’. He then expressed his deep appreciation of the unanimous feelings of love and gratitude to him, a humble soldier, and hoped that this would encourage more young men to volunteer. His speech carried a powerful message for young people to join Allied Forces, who were doing their duty both to God and man. His plea was for a victory all over Europe, when the true spirit of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man would be established. He ended his speech by repeating his and Kate’s gratitude for the valuable gifts that had been presented to them that day.

Dr Anderson proposed a vote of thanks to all who had made and contributed to such a successful recognition send-off occasion for Robert. Dr Anderson had considerable experience as a GP in Fife but, at the time of this ceremony, was Medical Superintendent of Wemyss Memorial Hospital. He was given £4 (£400 today) for hospital funds. Dr Anderson became a World War I Surgeon Specialist at the 69th General Hospital, in Egypt and Palestine.

The testimonial closed with ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and ‘God Save the King’. Robert would soon be home and packing his kit.

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