Hunt for family of First World War hero honoured 100 years after Passchendaele
A search has been launched to find relatives of a soldier awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery during the Battle of Passchendaele in the First World War.
Officials hope to have family members present at a ceremony to honour the bravery of Robert Shankland, which will take place in Ayr on October 26, 100 years since the heroic acts took place.
Mr Shankland was born on October 10, 1887 at 6 Gordon Terrace in the South Ayrshire town and emigrated to Canada in 1911.
At the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted and returned to Europe as part of the 43rd Battalion (Cameron Highlanders of Canada) of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
On 26 October 1917, during the Battle of Passchendaele, the 43rd Battalion was among the units of the Canadian 3rd Division which attacked the heavily fortified Bellevue Spur where concrete strongpoints bristling with machine guns had repelled all previous assaults.
Lieutenant Shankland braved enemy lines to take new information back to command, before returning and helping to capture the Bellevue Spur.
For his actions that day he was awarded the Victoria Cross, with the citation stating that his courage and his example 'undoubtedly saved a critical situation'.
Commemorative paving stones are being laid across the UK to honour the 628 Victoria Crosses awarded during the conflict as part of the national programme to mark the centenary of the First World War.
South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie said that despite an extensive search no surviving family members had been found.
She said: "We're preparing a permanent memorial to mark Robert's valour in the Battle of Passchendaele, and we'd dearly love to have family members present at the ceremony."
The stone will be laid at the First World War Rozelle Remembrance Woodland at Rozelle House and will be set in a tree trunk to help it blend in with the other sculptures that are already there.
After the war Mr Shankland married Anna Stobo Haining, the younger daughter of the stationmaster at Prestwick Railway Station, and the couple went to Canada to resume civilian life.
His last visit to Ayr was in 1964 when local press coverage of his visit noted that in addition to two sons he now had a grandson.
Anyone who thinks they may have a family connection is asked to contact the Civic Office at South Ayrshire Council on 01292 612 474 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.