Thomas Barrie Erskine was the brother of the better known Ralph Erskine who was more successful athletically and was world boxing champion. Thomas was born in 1890 in Parkhead, Glasgow, son of Captain James Barrie, formally of the 7th Gordon Highlanders and Royal Air Force then latterly an insurance inspector. They lived at 8 Deerpark Gardens in Tollcross, Glasgow. His father had been a founder member of the Clydesdale Harriers and both boys also joined the club.
Tom took part in many races, sometimes winning a prize in a handicap race but there were not too many of them. He did serve on the club committee however from 1911/12. Still living in Deerpark Gardens, he became Joint-Secretary with James Laird that season and also served on the Finance Committee. Ralph was also on the club general committee and this was the only year that they were both involved in the organisation of the club. Tom competed in the club Novice Championships that year from Maryhill Baths, and finished third, winning the first handicap prize. In 1912/13, he remained as one of the Joint-Secretaries with Harold Servant taking Laird’s place. This year he was also on the Finance Committee and on the Handicapping Committee. Being ineligible for the Novice Championship by virtue of his medal won the previous year, he participated in the Five Miles Club Championship at Erskine and won second handicap prize. The two Joint-Secretaries held their posts in 1913/14 with Tom also remaining on the Finance Committee. His record of a prize a year in club races continued when he was a member of the winning team in the Club Championship and Team Race after finishing 14th, the others in his team were JC Thomson, W Henderson tenth, and A Peterkin eleventh. The war intervened and the club’s activities were suspended sine die.
A student at the University of Glasgow, in 1912 Erskine entered into his fifth year of study and chose to study Medicine, having previously studied Logic and History in the Arts and Science Faculty. The outbreak of the First World War interrupted his studies, and he enlisted in 4th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 1st Gordon Highlanders regiment.
His regiment saw action on the Western Front throughout 1915, including during the second Battle of Ypres. On 12 July 1915 Captain Barrie ‘a very gallant and capable officer’ was decorated with the Military Cross, the third level military decoration awarded to officers, awarded for ‘gallantry during active operations against the enemy’. Only eight days after this was awarded, on 20 July 1915, personnel from the 1st Gordons regiment supported the 4th Middlesex Regiment with an assault on Hooge ” 34 men were wounded and 9 men killed, amongst them Thomas Erskine. Aged 25, he was buried in Brandhoek Military Cemetery, Belgium, and was later posthumously awarded a MA (Hons) degree by the University of Glasgow.
Captain Erskine is listed on the University’s WWI Roll of Honour.
Tom is also listed as a member of the Royal Flying Corps (see http://www.airhistory.org.uk/rfc/people_indexE.html ).