George Harry Paulin, experienced an enormously long and successful career as a sculptor and also saw a surprisingly varied range of experience at war. Born at Muckart, in Perthshire in 1888, he was the elder son of George Paulin, Church of Scotland Minister of Muckart Parish, and Jane Craig Paulin, of The Manse, Muckart.
His siblings were Jane, Ann and Charles.
Paulin attended Edinburgh College of Art and l’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. He established a studio in Florence and on the outbreak of war in 1914 joined the army as a trooper in the Lothian and Borders Horse Regiment. He was invalided out of the army following an accident, but then joined the Royal Flying Corps. He transferred to the Royal Naval Air Service and eventually ended the war as a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF, having served in all three branches of the armed forces.
Paulin’s artistic career took off following the end of war in 1918. He received numerous commissions for town war memorials, as well as commissions for regimental memorials, including the Machine Gun Corps and Royal Tank Regiment Memorials at Whitehall. On the outbreak of war in 1939 he was rejected for military service, but supported the war effort by working in a Glasgow munitions factory. His work also includes numerous private memorials and busts and after the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1952, Paulin received a number of royal commissions. He spent the final years of his life living in Berkshire and died in 1962.
One of his most striking memorials is the 51st Highland Division Memorial in the Newfoundland Memorial Park on The Somme. The memorial park is dedicated to the Newfoundland Regiment.
A flight of steps leads visitors up the memorial between two lions and a pyramid of rough granite blocks is surmounted by a kilted Highlander resting on his Lee Enfield rifle and looking out across the German trenches and Y Ravine towards the village of Beaumont Hamel beyond. The Gaelic inscription on the memorial reads, “La a’Blair s’math n Cairdean” which translates as “Friends are good on the day of battle”. The monument was unveiled by former allied commander, Marechal Foch, in a ceremony on 28 September 1924.
The model for the figure is known to be Regimental Sergeant Major Robert Rowan, DCM, of Glasgow, He did not serve in the 51st Division, though he had a long and distinguished war service with the 1/9th Battalion Highland Light Infantry (The Glasgow Highlanders).