IN choosing to settle in Stroud shortly after the end of the First World War, David and Aimee Cruickshank did something thousands have done since.

The journey that led them there however, is unlikely to ever be repeated.

Neither were local to Gloucestershire, with David born in Glasgow in 1894 and Aimee in France.

In February 1914 David joined the 1st Battalion of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and after war broke out later that year found himself in France.

After the Battle of Mons, David’s regiment retreated to Le Cateau where more fighting took place.

David was amongst 300 who were wounded, taken prisoner or went missing during the confusion of the battle.

After becoming separated from his regiment and wounded after encounter with German soldiers David then met someone who would have a life-changing, indeed lave-saving, impact on him, Madame Baudhuin.

The mother of three lived in small house in Le Cateau and came to the soldier’s aid.

With the town now under German control, David had to stay hidden. Madame Baudhuin and her family ignored warnings of severe penalties for anyone helping an enemy soldier.

What followed was a period of recovery, occasionally interrupted by searches of the property made by German soldiers.

Friends and neighbours helped David remain undetected, even after his bedding in the loft was discovered during a search.

One such neighbour was a young women called Aimee.

It was with Aimee that David, or Mademoiselle Louise as he became known, began to venture out of the house disguised as a woman.

Having been taught have to act, and learnt a new way of walking, he was soon confident to leave the confines of house during daylight.

David went undetected for two years but in September 1916 his luck ran out and he was finally detecting during a search in the middle of the night.

David was found guilty of spying and sentenced to death, but his incredible story was not to end there.

Julie-Celestine, who had been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment herself just moments earlier, appealed to the court to spare David’s life.

Having received no news regarding the fate of one of her sons fighting in the war, she did not want to lose David too.

She was then informed that her son died 10 months ago, and yet still continued her plea for David to be spared.

David’s sentence was then downgraded to a 10 year jail sentence.

Although his life had been spared, the rest of the war was no holiday for David.

Captured in civilian clothing, he has initially treated as a common criminal rather than a Prisoner of War.

At the end of the war David was able to return home to Glasgow.

Still a member of the army, he was given special dispensation to return to France and marry Aimee.

After leaving the army David took up a job as a gardener with the Imperial War Graves Commission.

By 1921 he and his colleagues had planted almost 1,000 cemeteries.

David left in 1923 as he, Aimee and their new son tried to build a life together.

They moved to Paris and later Glasgow, where their second son was born.

However, neither satisfied them both and they eventually came to settle in Stroud.

David found work as a fitter at Strachans and the family was finally able to settle down.

They bought a small cottage in Cainscross which was to remain their home for the rest of their married life.

Sadly, Aimee died after suffering a stroke in 1964.

David sold the cottage and went back to Glasgow before returning to be with his family in Stroud.

David passed away at the age of 78 in 1973 following a short illness.

Thanks to Glen Cruickshank for sharing his grandfather’s amazing story.

lMore information about David and others who were in similar positions during the First World War is available in John Anderson and Victor Puik’s book: Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: Accounts of British soldiers and their protectors in the Great War.