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About this blog

Inspired by the anniversary of the First World War I suggested to my cousins that we visit Ypres where I knew that one of Grandfathers uncles had died in early May 1915.  The hundreth anniversary of his death coincided with the May Day Bank Holiday in 1915 so we arranged to meet there and I promised to do some research.  In a story probably familiar to many here I was fascinated by his story and as I tried to work out if he was the first officer to die from his home town of Galashiels increasingly drawn into the stories of those 638 men listed on the Galashiels War Memorial. I hope to post some of those stories here. 

Entries in this blog

gmac101

25th March

 

Robert Romanis was stationed near Ypres in Belgium when the Kaiser Slacht started but his Division, the 35th received orders on the 22nd of March to reinforce the British line south near the Somme.  The Division was taken the 100 miles or south to Heilly station on trains. Each of the 9 battalions on a separate train.  The trains consisted of 1 carriage for the officers, 17 flat wagons for carts and stores and 40 covered wagons which would either contain Soldiers or Horses.  The 12th Highland Light Infantry (HLI) Roberts Battalion left Proven at around 9pm on train No. 7 and arrived at their destination at about 1 pm the next day. A 16 hour trip.  They were then bussed 10 miles or so to Bray sur Somme where they marched to the village of Maricourt arriving in the early morning  of the 25th and took up position along the D197 north from Maricourt as far as a Brickworks near Bernafay Wood (the brickworks is gone but it’s location is marked by patch of rough ground alongside the road which can be seen on google maps).  The Germans attacked from the east at 7:45am on the 25th and at multiple times during the day using artillery, rifle and machine gun fire.  The attacks finally ceased at 8pm but the 12th HLI had suffered a number of casualties including Robert.  His body was never identified and he is remembered on the Poziere memorial but at the Commonwealth War Grave Commission cemetery in Maricourt there are over 150 graves of unknown soldiers – one of these may well be the grave of Robert Romanis

Robert Hope served in the Highland Light Infantry as well as Robert Romanis but he was in the 2nd Battalion which was part of the 2nd Division and stationed further North near Baupame. He started the battle in reserve but by the 22nd of March was in the front line just to the south of where Gordon Tait and George Frier were serving.  His unit then began a long retreat to maintain the British line.  On the night of the 24th they were allowed 2 hours sleep in the village of Ligny Thilloy.  They continued to retreat the next day over the old Somme battlefield, the shell holes covered in long grass did not make for easy going.  During the retreat they formed the rearguard and came under enemy fire just North of Le Sars and it likely that this is where Robert was killed, his unit then continued their retreat.  He left a wife in Edinburgh who was paid a war gratuity of £8 10shillings

gmac101

24th March

George Frier of the 1/7th  Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders died at the 3rd Canadian Stationary Hospital from wounds received during the German attacks.  The3rd  Canadian Stationary Hospital was located in Doullens  which lay between Arras and Amiens.  As well as hosting the Hospital it was also the French HQ for part of the war.  The 1/7th A&SH were stationed on the front line  55km east between the  villages of Boursies and Demicourt when the Germans attacked. George was unlikely to have been injured in the initial attacks as the ferocity of the artillery bombardment made it impossible for the wounded to be evacuated from the advanced dressing stations and they along with the doctors and orderlies who tended to them were captured or  killed on the 21st.  After repeated German, artillery gas and flame thrower attacks the A & SH fell back to a line between the villages of Beaumetz lez Cambrai and Hermies  about 2 miles behind the front line overnight on the 21st and it is likely he was wounded here  by artillery or rifle fire .  Whilst shelling made evacuation difficult all the wounded were evacuated from this line.  See also Gordon Tait  who was serving in the same division who was killed fighting nearby at the same time.  He would have been taken by horse drawn or motor ambulance to one of the  three 51st (Highland) Divisions Casualty Clearing stations.  These were large “district” hospitals based in huts or tents near railway lines where wounded or sick men could be treated or moved “down the line” to the stationary or general hospitals which were based in permanent buildings.  All the 51st Division CCS were by railways so he would have been taken by a special hospital train to Doullens where unfortunately he died.

John Bell Aged 24 a Lance Corporal with the 11th Royal Scots had been in action since the 21st of March.  His unit was part of the 27th Brigade in the 9th (Scottish) Division and they had been trying to hold back the Germans just to the south of  where Frank Gibson (who died on  the 23rd) began the battle.  By the 24th they had retreated from Huedecourt where they started the battle,  to Nurlu, then fighting a rear-guard action on the 23rd ending up in a position just to the East of St Pierre Vaast wood where they spent the night.  The Brigade messages to the divisional HQ ask for rations and ammunition which they were short of this must of made resistance difficult .  They retreated throughout the 24th whilst engaged with the Germans and this no doubt why John Bells body was never recovered.  He was hit at some point during the retreat to the village of Combles and died immediately or before any aid could reach him.  His parents lived on the Dalry Road in Edinburgh but he had been born in Galashiels

Robert Barron.  A mile or so to the South of where John Bell spent the night of the 23rd/24th is the Bois Marrieres  and here just to the East of the small village of Bouchavesnes  the South African Brigade who like the 11th Royal Scots had been in action for 3 days made a stand.  The brigade received an order on the 23rd that their line must be held at all costs,  the commander Brigadier General Dawson followed these orders to the letter.  500 South Africans were in rudimentary  trenches and shell holes as the morning mist cleared at about 9 am and the Germans attacked with rifle and artillery fire.  The shells landing amongst the South Africans threw up so much debris that they had to stop firing to clean their rifles regularly  but despite the many German attacks they held out until 4pm when their ammunition was exhausted the 100 still alive and unwounded surrendered.  Robert Barron born in Galashiels some 42 years before lay amongst the dead and his body was never identified.  His parents who still lived in Galashiels at 46 Meigle street arranged for his name to be included on the Galashiels War Memorial.

George Lowrie.  According to the CWGC George died on the 24th of March but I think this may be an error.  Unlike many of other men whose bodies were lost during the German attacks George has a known grave: Plot III. G. 5.in the Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension on the East side of the river Somme but on the 24th Georges unit, the 4/5th Battalion The Royal Highlanders – better known as the Black Watch was on the West Bank having crossed during the night of the 23rd.  After the war the army organised a huge search that involved several thousand men and lasted into the 1920’s  of the battlefields to locate as many  missing bodies as possible.  These bodies, identified wherever possible were then moved to official cemeteries,  a process known as concentration.  George’s body was “concentrated” in 1919 and the records show that his original grave was marked with cross with the date of 23rd of March 1918 and his name and he was buried in Mont St Quentin then a small village just outside Peronne, now it’s a suburb of the town.  It was in Mont St Quentin that the 4/5th Black watch fought a rear guard action against the Germans on the 23rd and George was probably killed in this.  His comrades were then able to bury him and prepare a cross.  This grave then survived the war until identified by the post war grave registration units.  George lived in Edinburgh with his parents prior to the war in Balcarres Street but he was born in Galashiels.  His parents were proud of their border heritage and arranged to have “Born at Galashiels” carved on his grave.

gmac101

23rd March

Frank Gibson who had arrived in France 3 years ago on the 23rd March 1915 was fighting with the 5th Battalion The Cameron Highlanders.  They had been in action since early on the 21st  when they came under bombardment as they occupied the frontline trenches just North of the ruined French village of  Gouzeaucourt.  Whilst they with the other Battalions in the 9th Division had held the Germans back units south of them had been unable to resist the German attacks and fell back to the West and South.  To maintain a consistent front they retreated throughout the 22nd of March and part of the 23rd South and West to a position west of the village of Manancourt where they set out  a defensive line and fought off several German attacks through the night.  It’s likely that it was during these actions that he was killed.  The Battalion spent the following day retreating as the division attempted to maintain an intact line under sustained German attack as a result his  body was never recovered from the field and he is remembered on the Pozieres Memorial.

Richard Robertson of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Scottish Fusiliers  had been a regular soldier and re-joined at the outbreak of war and had been in France since the 14th of August 1914. He  fought at Mons, the British Army’s first battle of the war.  The 1st RSF were part of the 8th Brigade in the 3rd Division and they were due to be relieved on the 21st of March but that change over never occurred.  The 1st RSF were in “Brigade Support” in a series of trenches named after birds, “Egret Loop” and “The Nest” on a hill  about 1km behind the front which was held by the 2nd Battalion The Royal Scots.  Through the 21st and 22nd of March they endured some heavy and accurate artillery bombardments as the Germans tried to force the 2RS out of the trenches in the valley below  but as units to the South and North fell back the 3rd Division was forced to withdraw.

On the night of the 22/23rd of March they moved about 2miles West and took up a position just to the North West of a small village called Henin sur Cojuel on either side of the road north out of the village where some trenches  had been pre dug.  Newspapers reports say that he was killed by a bomb dropped by an aircraft but the various war dairies don’t mention a specific air attack on the 23rd but German aircraft are described as harassing British troops  throughout this period.  Unusually  for this part of the war he was buried (many men’s bodies were lost as the British retreated) which suggest his death occurred behind British lines and his  body could be safely recovered. He is buried in Wailly Orchard Cemetery, about 12km north west from where he died. This large distance may mean that he survived for a while after he was injured and died during his evacuation.

Richard Robertson lived at 130 Scott Street with his wife.

gmac101

22nd March

Gordon Tait was with the 8th Battalion of the Royal  Scots who by march 1918 were the divisional pioneers for the 51st  (Highland ) Division.  The 51st Division were holding the British line on either side of the Bapaume / Cambrai road near the village of Boursies when the Germans attacked on the 21st.  The 8th RS were in billets in Beugny about 5 miles behind the front line when the German barrage started but they took their places further forward near Lacquiere first in a sunken road which they were forced to abandon by heavy shelling taking shelter in shell holes in the surrounding fields.  At about midday the battalion of three companies was split up.  2 Companies heading North of the Bapaume / Cambrai road and one to the south.  The companies to the North  of the road took up a position south of the village of Morchies, between the village and a small wood (this is still there and can be seen on google maps).  Here through the next 24 hours the held off a number of German attacks until the Germans broke through North of Morchies and outflanked them and the men retreated.  The unit suffered its heaviest casualties here and it’s likely that is  where Gordon died.  The Company stationed to the South held the line between Lebucquiere and Beaumetz le Cambrai and whilst the were attacked the German pressure was mostly to the North of the main road.

gmac101

Operation Michael 1st Day

Over 40 men from Galashiels died during the Kaiserslacht  - I hope to record each one on the 100th anniversary of their death 

 

Stewart Wilson had joined the army in early 1917, he had lived with his mother in Edinburgh prior to enlistment so his connection to Gala is not known but by March 1918 he was serving in the 9th Battalion of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps(.9/KRRC)  They were part of the 14th Division who were holding the British front line just south of the French city of St Quentin.  On the 21st of March the 9/KRRC were in a series of strong points called “Funny”  “Frosty” and “Excellent” to the South and West of  the village of Urvilliers.  The Germans initial bombardment severed all the telephone lines  almost immediately and very little was heard or seen of the 9/KRRC again.  The whole area was covered in thick fog and the German  “Storm Truppen” were able to infiltrate the line and surround the position cutting off their lines of retreat and making reinforcement impossible. A message delivered by pigeon was received from the battalion headquarters at 12:20pm stating that they were holding out and gunfire from the strong holds was last heard later in the afternoon.  A few men in the reserve company  of the 9/KRRC escaped but Stewart Wilson was one of over 600 men and officers who were killed, wounded or captured that day, about 90% of the unit.  The resistance offered by the 9/KRRC  and surrounding units stopped the main German advance for a few hours and allowed other units to consolidate positions in the rear.  Stewarts body was never identified and he is commemorated on the Pozieres memorial

William Leishman was serving in the “Dandy Ninth” the 9th Battalion of the Royal Scots.  On the night of the 20th they were in billets in the village of Beavois, North West of St Quentin  but soon, after they were no doubt woken by the German barrage that started at 4:30am, they were detailed to man the trenches behind the village of Holnon.  This was part of the “battle zone” a distance behind the front line where they hoped to hold the German attack after it was disrupted by the forward outposts and strong points.  Light railways ran from Beavois to within two miles of the trenches  so they didn’t  have to walk too far. They were in place just before 9 am and stayed there for the next 36 hours.  They came under sustained bombardment but the outposts in front of them held and they did not engage any German Forces but did suffer casualties due to the heavy shelling.  One of these was William Leishman. He was 25 and a grocer before he joined up in March 1916 and his family lived at 51 Meigle Street.  His unit retreated the day after he was killed and his body was never recovered. He is listed on the Poziere Memorial.

gmac101

The Missing

In my post "Numbers from the War Memorial" I mentioned that a there were 28 men who I had been unable to locate  - I've since been back through the records and found 8 or so of the missing but 20 remain unfound.  Here is a list of them and a summary of my attempts to fnd them.  If anybody has access to other records that may help identify them or clarify which of the recorded men may have a connection to Galashiels I would really appreciate if you could let me have access or point me in the right direction.  I have identified over 600 men using CWGC, SNWM, Ancestry and the British Newspaper Archive and it would be lovely to find them all. 

 

Royal Field Artillery

Gunner John Higgins

4 John Higgins listed in CWGC database. No connection to Galashiels.  No Service records with connection to Galashiels, Nobody of that name in 1901 or 1911 census lived in Galashiels.  One reference to a J Higgins who sent a letter of thanks to Selkirk Soldiers Comforts committee in April 1918 evidently from his hospital bed.  One Higgins family appears in 1901 census in Galashiels but no ”Johns” 3 John Higgins in RFA listed in SWB records but no connection to Galashiels

Gunner James Thomson

8 Listed in CWGC of which 5 born in Scotland but none in Galashiels. One James Thomson from Selkirk served in the RGA and enlisted in Galashiels where his brother lived – possible but would his brother placed him in the wrong artillery corps?

Argyll & Sutherland  Highlanders

Pte Andrew Knox – One person listed in CWGC but no identified links to Galashiels and full name is Alexander.  A Andrew Knox S/27890 2nd Btn A &SH rcvd VM & BWM. Nothing in local papers for a “Andrew Knox” and “A Knox”

Pte D McCulloch – One person listed in CWGC but no identified links to Galashiels. Soldiers Died has him being born in Renfrew.  A David McCulloch was born in Galashiels in 1886 Nothing in local papers for David McCulloch and D McCulloch.  Several D McCullochs served in A & SH according to MIC’s.  One Douglas McCulloch served 4/7596 +GH & RE died 1/3/1917 arrived France 27/12/1914.  Missing from CWGC

Cameron Highlanders

Pte Robert Brown 9 listed on CWGC. One unofficial report in local newspaper of  a Robert Brown of the 7th Cameron Highlanders ex Scott Street Galashiels  dying pre 3rd Feb 1916 but cannot locate death in CWGC or SNWM or Soldiers died.

Pte Alexander Sutherland 2 listed on CWGC no additional information. Both located in soldiers died both born in highlands no A. Sutherlands  in SNWM born in Galashiels.  10 listed in MIC but no addresses. No

Dorset Regiment

Pte James W. Tod: A James William Tod was living in Galashiels in 1901 but tracing him in the army in the Dorset Regiment  or finding a newspaper reference has not been possible. A James William Tod served with the 1st  Cameron Highlanders S18009 died of wounds 23/7/1916 buried in Contalmaison Chateaux.  Recruiting officer noted he was a ”Superior, Smart lad, anxious to go with a friend” – but wrong regiment and born and lived in Dumfries.

 

King’s Own Scottish Borderers

Pte Robert Bradley

No R Bradley in CWGC attached to KOSB, No SWB Nothing Soldiers Died

A Robert Bradley was born in Galashiels in 1891 and by 1901 was living in New Monkland. A Robert Bradley attested in 1915 and joined the Royal Scots with the correct age possible? But gives his place of birth as Barony Glasgow?

Pte William Murray

Two William Murrays listed on the GWM who served with the KOSB.  One of them listed in the CWGC  has parents and a wife resident in Galashiels.  No other CWGC listed William Murrays have a connection to Galashiels.  No William Murray deaths in Gala can be tied to KOSB service

Pte Richard J. Turnbull

2 Listed in CWGC.  Only one Richard Lillico Turnbull has connection to Galashiels as according to Soldiers Died he enlisted there so a possible connection but he was born and lived in Selkirk. The other is connected to Hawick.

Pte Peter White

No Pte Peter Whites in the CWGC list for KOSB or SNWM or SDGW.  A Peter White Labourer of various addresses was hauled up in front of the magistrates several times pre-war for poaching salmon (cleeking) and drunkenness – the same person? Nothing in 1911 census or post war death records for Galashiels or nearby towns.

Machine Gun Corps

Pte George F Thomson

Only George Thomson is from Kilmarnock – No connection apparent to Galashiels

Royal Scots

Cpl Robert Fairburn

Two listed in CWGC have no connection to Galashiels.  A Peter Fairbairn enlisted in August 1915 in the Royal Scots moved to the Labour Corps then discharged aged 52 in 1919 – may have died later

Pte Thomas Hart

No Thomas or T Harts died in service with the Royal Scots.  A Thomas Hart did serve with the RS but was discharged in late 1918 under KR 392, Medals were not delivered –may have died but  no Thomas Hart deaths post war then can be tied to the Thomas Hart discharged. 

Pte Russell Mason

None listed, no trace in newspaper

Royal Scottish Fusiliers

Pte James Thomson.

8 men named James Thomson listed  in CWGC but none with a connection to Galashiels. SNWM has no James Thomson’s connected to Galashiels. No James Thomson’s who served in RSF are listed in SDGW have any connection to Galashiels.  BNA searches for “James Thomson” and “Royal Scottish Fusiliers “ in the border area don’t yield any likely results

United States of America

Pte William Newlands

Pte Newlands is not the on ABMC list but a L/Cpl William Newlands of the 9th Btn Gordon Highlanders is listed by the CWGC as having died on the 1st of August 1917 at 32nd  CCS. Service records survives and he was born in Galashiels but he is recorded in the Gordon Highlander part of the GWM – A double entry? If so why under the USA?

Canada

Pte Alexander Brown

94 Alexander Browns attested with the Canadian forces and by cross referencing with the CWGC record of Canadians named A Brown who died (36 in total) 6 Men named Alexander Brown are identified.  Cross check against the 1901 census list 6 Alexander Browns in Scotland associated with Galashiels.  One’s birth year corresponds to Alexander Finletter Brown 163068 who was living in Hunter Square Galashiels in 1901. His NOK  on his attestation is a William Brown but his father was a James, but a brother named William is listed in the 1901 census.  Birth locations differ CFR =Maybole, 1901 = Dumfries.  Not enough to confirm.

Cpl E. Miller

1 Cpl E Miller in CWGC in Canadian Forces. Details do not give a connection to Galashiels.  Canadian attestation records give NOK in Canada and birthplace as Queensland Aust.  Cpl E Miller 790649 died 26/10/1917 no known grave, listed on Menin Gate. A Report in the Southern Reporter 9/5/1918 report his death states he worked at Abbotsford Mill and was in the Galashiels Harrier Athletics Club prior to emigration.  But no details connect the Men described. Nothing in 1901 census.

Sgt Joseph White

2 Possibilities: A Pte Joseph  White, known as Joe. 437020 49th Btn Canadian Infantry ex Scots Guards 3491born Edinburgh 14/1/1883 parents lived  Galashiels Camp Cook in the Yukon prior to war. Siblings in Canada, note Incorrect rank.

A Sgt Joseph White, note correct rank 725123 44th Btn CI.  Born Ontanrio, parents lived Ontario – no known connection to Galashiels – unlikely ?

L Cpl J.H. Young

One Sgt J H Young listed on CWGC but Canadian Records and CWGC show no connection to Galashiels or Scotland.  One John Young (no H) born in the Borders is an alternative. 34 J Youngs in CWGC and Thousands in Canadian Attestation records

 

Many thanks for reading!

gmac101

The King and I and the Galashiels War Memorial

Anybody researching a casualty on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission(CWGC) website knows that anything in the “additional information” column is always greatly appreciated but few have something as intriguing as:  Son of Admiral John Bush, of Bangkok, Siam; husband of Jean I. Bush, of 21, Lauderdale St., Edinburgh.”

The Galashiels War Memorial only lists only one member of the RAF; Captain V.G.A. Bush.  There is only one man of that name listed on the CWGC site, not in the RAF but in the RFC as he died in early 1918 before the RAF was formed.  And according to the CWGC additional information his father was Admiral John Bush of Bangkok, a rather improbable sounding character.  But John Bush did exist; an English merchant seaman who arrived in Bangkok in 1857 with his wife and was encouraged by the British Consul to apply for the position of Bangkok  Harbour Master.  He served in this role until the late 1800’s when one of his sons took over.  He also ran the Bangkok Dry Docks and Captained the King of Thailand’s ship when he made longer voyages.  He had 4 children with his wife from England but his first wife Elizabeth (nee Lawson )died in 1866. John Bush then married Mae Plian  and in the early 1890’s had two further children Victor and Victoria.  John Bush died in the early 1900’s and sometime shortly after Victor came to the UK, presumably to study and the 1911 census finds  him at a boarding school in Edinburgh.

Victor studied at George Watsons College in Edinburgh where he won prizes for drawing and played rugby in the 2nd fifteen he finished in 1911 and started a university course.  However his studies were interrupted by the announcement of war and on the 29th of August 1914 he enlisted in the 9th Battalion of the Royal Scots but along with other OTC Cadets was quickly commissioned and joined the 10th Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry in November 1914 as a 2nd Lieutenant .  He arrived in France on the 8th of August 1915.  He presumably fought with the HLI at Loos on the 25th of September 1915 where they suffered considerable losses.  Perhaps as a result of this he applied and was accepted into the RFC qualifying as an observer in early 1916 and as a pilot by August.  By the 10th of August he was back in France serving with 1st Squadron, flying Morane Parasol’s and later Nieuport Scouts. He got some home leave in December and married Jean McLeod, he gave her family address when he joined up so he must have known her for some time.  They married in St Davids Church, Viewforth in Edinburgh on the 16th of December.  His sister Victoria, now in the UK, was one of the witnesses.  On his return to France he was involved in bringing down at least one enemy plane a Roland C on the 4th of March 1917.  Shortly afterwards he returned to the UK to serve as a flying instructor

He served at a number of flying schools and the 26th Reserve Squadron before he was posted in late..  August 1917 to the No.1 School of Aerial Fighting at Turnberry near Ayr.  During this period he was Gazetted a Captain.  It appears he lived in Ayr at 5a Miller Street with his wife.  He died from head injuries he received in a crash on the 8th of February.  One of the wings of the Sopwith Camel he was flying failed and as a result he was unable to control the aircraft and it crashed on the outskirts of  Ayr at a place called Kincaidston farm (now a housing estate).  He was buried in Edinburgh in Merchiston Cemetry.  As well as the Galashiels War Memorial  he is remembered on the memorial at Gorgie in Edinburgh and on the memorial in St Michaels Church in Edinburgh.

Why is he remembered in Galashiels? – None of the official records finds him in Galashiels but an article in the “Southern Reporter” in September 1917 recording his promotion to Captain notes that he was “formerly of Galashiels”.  In addition according to the 1911 census his wife’s younger brother was born in Galashiels.  So he and his wife had some connection to the town and thus a place on the War Memorial. 

Captain V G A Bush is an interesting person, possibly the only British Officer with Thai Origins? Does anybody know of any others

His sister went on to serve in the WRAF and married an American serviceman in Montrose in July 1918 and evidently emigrated to the United States.  The last record I have found of his wife is from 1920 when she was living in Pewsey Wiltshire when she applied for her late husband’s medals

But what of the connection to the King and I?

When Anna Leonowens, the “I” in the “King and I” first arrived in Bangkok she was met by John Bush, then known as a Captain and stayed at his house until the King arranged accommodation for her.

gmac101

Numbers from the War Memorial

Numbers from the War Memorial.

 

Galashiels war memorial has 638 men listed on it.  I have tried to identify all of them.  So far I have identified 609, so 29 are “missing”.  Of the 609 the vast majority are listed on the Commonwealth War Grave Commission (CWGC) list of war dead but 17 are not.  These men generally died of disease after being discharged from the army.  As the CWGC lists of war dead were compiled post-war their deaths either did not meet the CWGC criteria or their families did not tell the military authorities about their death.  But the Galashiels community felt that their death was associated with military service and therefore honoured them with a place on the memorial.

 

They fought for 6 separate countries armed forces : United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and the United States of America

The men (and they are all men) served in 59 separate regiments and corps, though in many cases those corps and regiments are only represented by one man on the memorial.  The vast majority served in the army, 626; 11 served in the Navy and 1 in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC)(actually part of the army).  The RFC member is listed as serving in the RAF but he died before the RAF was formed on the 1st of April 1918.

 

Of those serving in the army, most served in infantry regiments that recruited from Scotland.  78% or 489 men served in Scottish regiments and a number of those who served in corps, such as the RFC or the Machine Gun Corps (MGC) were originally recruited into Scottish regiments.

 

The most popular regiment was the Kings Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB), the local regiment, with 240 men, followed by the 71 men of the Royal Scots (RS), who traditionally recruited in and around Edinburgh. 32 served in the Highland Light Infantry(HLI) which recruited in the Glasgow area, 31 served in the Cameron Highlanders, who  traditionally recruited in the Inverness area

The most common rank is Private – 425 privates or equivalent, 51 Lance Corporals, 21 Corporals 48 Lance Sergeants and Sergeants, 5 Sergeant Majors 24 Lieutenants, 6 Captains and 4 Majors died.  These are ranks given by  the CWGC, they can differ from those on the war memorial particularly for the non-commissioned ranks.  Promotion and demotion between the lower NCO ranks was at the discretion of the local Commanding Officer and  news of these promotions or demotions may not of reached the administrative staff before they were killed.  All in all there are 49 “errors” in rank.  37 have a rank on the GWM higher than their CWGC rank and 12 held a higher rank than listed on the GWM.

 

 

Born & Lived.

We know the birth places of 579 of the men – 386 were born in Galashiels  -66%.  The rest were generally born elsewhere in Scotland but 6 were born in England 3 in Ireland 2 in each of  Canada and South Africa  and 1 in Thailand, New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

They mostly lived in Galashiels .  There are addresses of some description for about  560 of the men of those 396 are in Galashiels.  124 lived elsewhere in Scotland, 13 in England, 1 in Ireland and the rest in parts of the Empire.  It’s likely that less  than 396 actually lived in Galashiels, they were mostly young men and a number may have lived in Edinburgh or Glasgow in lodgings but gave their “home” address as Galashiels.

Using the population data from the 1911 census about 4.5% of British men died in WWI,  Based on the number of men we know lived in Galashiels we can estimate that about 70% of the men on the GWM  lived in Galashiels.  As the male population of Galashiels was  6900 in 1911 this means Galashiels lost about 6.4% of its male population – about 40% more than the national average.   If you consider just the “military age” population (15-50) of Galashiels was 3698 the percentage is higher at 12%,  1in 8.

 

Age?

The oldest to die in combat was 52 and the youngest 16 – Their  average age was 27

 

When did they die?

18 died in 1914, the first two on the 14th of September  , 174 in 1915, 101 in 1916, 150 in 1917 and 132 in 1918.  A further 29 died post war, the last on the 21st of November  1924.

The worst day for the town was  the 12th of July 1915; 75 men were killed at Achi Baba when the 1/4th Battalion  of the KOSB mounted  an ill-fated attack on the Turkish trenches.

About 46% have no known grave, 51% are buried in a known plot and for about 3% we don’t know enough yet but it’s likely they were buried in a known grave.  Nationally about 53% are buried in a known grave so Galashiels experience is close to the national average.

 

Where are they buried or commemorated?

They are buried on 4 continents in the following 17 countries

 

Country(ies)

No. Buried or Commemorated

1

Belgium

95

2

Canada

1

3

Egypt

10

4

France

283

5

Germany

3

6

Greece

8

7

Iraq

7

8

Israel & Palestine

27

9

Italy

3

10

Lebanese Republic

1

11

Malta

3

12

Mozambique

1

13

Russian Federation

1

14

Tanzania

1

15

Turkey

90

16

UK

58

17

Unknown

46

 

Note that where they were buried or commemorated does not always reflect where they died.  Several of the Royal Navy personnel, commemorated in the UK, died some way from the UK (Russia, off Ireland and off Spain). The unknowns are the sum of those who I’ve failed to identify (29) and those not listed by the CWGC (17) where I don’t have a site of their grave.  Many of these are likely to be buried in or near Galashiels .

They are buried in or commemorated on 227 cemeteries and memorials. Most of the Galaleans who are buried in a known grave lie singly or in pairs in cemeteries.  The cemetery  with largest number of casualties from Galashiels is in Galashiels; the Eastlands Cemetery  a mile or so from the war memorial.  Where possible if a man died of accident, wounds or disease in the UK their body could be sent to their home town.  As a result 23 men are buried at Eastlands, possibly more.  Other cemeteries with multiple Galaleans are those situated near the larger bases in France such the Terlincthun Cemetery with 7 Galaleans and those near the sites of large battles such as Caterpillar Valley cemetery on the Somme with 4 burials.

The memorial with largest number of men from Galashiels listed on it is the Helles memorial on the Gallipoli peninsula. This has 76 men listed on it – nearly all who died on the 12th of July 1915. Next is the Thiepval memorial in France which commemorates the missing on the Somme which has 40 men listed on it.

 

How did they die?

Most were killed in action 382 over 60%, 121 from wounds, 49 from disease, 10 from accidents 2 drowned and 2 were listed as gassed, though a number of those who were killed in action are likely to also have been gassed.  The low number who died from disease is a credit to the Royal Army Medical Corps and the Army Service Corps who managed sanitation and troop accommodation, in previous campaigns the British Army lost far more men to disease than in combat.  3 of those who died in accidents were members of the 7th Royal Scots who were killed in the train accident near Gretna on the 22nd of May 1915.

 

Awards?

The CWGC lists 12 men who received some kind of award or recognition for service above what was expected of them.  There were 6 Military Medals , 2 Mentioned in Despatches and 1 each of Military Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medal, Member of the Victorian Order and a Territorial Decoration.  There is some variation between the awards listed on the War Memorial and those listed by the CWGC with 14 men listed as having some award. 

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The Inglis Family

Today, the 24th of July 2017, one hundred years ago at about 9pm Dr Stevenson of Galashiels lost control of his car as he climbed Ladhope bank, the car mounted the pavement and struck Elizabeth Inglis who was walking to her home at 49 Glendinning Terrace with a young girl.  Elizabeth was fatally injured and died at the scene.  This must have been an awful blow to her Husband, ex Kings Own Scottish Borderers Piper Walter Inglis, as the couple  had lost 3 sons in the previous 3 years – all killed in action.  They were one of the many Galashiels families who lost more than one son.

All three are remembered on the Galashiels War Memorial:

Private William Inglis 2nd Battalion Kings Own Scottish Borderers – 18th November 1914

A regular soldier, he arrived in France in late October, part of a group of reinforcements for the 2nd Battalion of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers. He joined them in early November as they moved into the Ypres Salient and took over trenches near the Hooge Chateau on the Menin Road out of Ypres.  The first battle of Ypres was drawing to a close and the Allied armies had stopped the Germans “turning their flank” or getting behind them but it had been a desperate fight and the KOSB were taking the trenches over from exhausted troops and replacements were not available so the battalion spent 13 days in the frontline, far longer than would be normal later in the war.  They were in contact with the enemy every day, fighting off several attacks that were often accompanied by artillery bombardments.  Men were killed and injured every day but the worst day was the 18th of November, when William was killed.  The Germans brought up a trench mortar and began shelling the British Line at 8am.  The battalion war diary describes how the football sized shell was launched on a high, slow trajectory and could be watched through its flight.  When it landed it was terribly destructive, the diary describes how men were blown into pieces and the trench destroyed.  12 other men also died that day and like William none of their bodies were recovered.  William left £3 2’ & 4d to his brothers and father and in late 1919 his father was paid a war gratuity.  William was awarded 3 medals the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, along with a memorial plaque and scroll sent to his father.  He is listed on the Menin Gate with 6 others from Galashiels who served in the KOSB.

Private Charles Inglis Royal Marines Light Infantry – HMS Black Prince – 31st May 1916

He had joined the Royal Marines in late 1912 and by 1915 was serving on HMS Black Prince a Duke of Edinburgh class Armoured Cruiser built in 1904.  The ship was part of the 1st Cruiser Squadron based at Invergordon and was part of the British Grand Fleet that took part in the Battle of Jutland She was at sea by 10:30pm on the 30th of May and sailed out of the Cromarty Firth to join the rest of the fleet in the North Sea.  The plan was that the 1st and 2nd Cruiser Squadrons of four ships each would from a screening force several miles ahead of the main force of Battleships acting as their eyes and ears to detect and warn the Grand fleet when the German warships were sighted.  This occurred in the late afternoon of the 31st of May, HMS Black Prince radioed sightings to the Grand Fleet at 5:30 and turned south to avoid the British battle cruisers who had been shadowing the German fleet.  She was then lost to sight in the misty conditions that prevailed that day, the only contact, a radio message stating that she had sighted a submarine.  It was long thought by the British that she’d been sunk by the submarine but German sources stated that at around midnight she encountered the main German fleet, she tried to escape but caught in the searchlights of SMS Thüringen she was targeted by it and five other German battleships and quickly succumbed to their fire, exploding after midnight with the loss of all hands.  Charles is commemorated on the Galashiels War Memorial and the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.  3 other men and a boy from Galashiels died during the Battle of Jutland. 

Private George Inglis 2nd Battalion Kings Own Scottish Borderers – 25th September 1916

George had joined up in  August 1914 but didn’t end up overseas until 1916 – he served  with the 2nd Battalion KOSB throughout his time in the army.  The 2nd KOSB fought in the Battle of the Somme, they were not at the front on the first day but the battalion was involved in a number of actions during July, August and September; including attacks near High Wood, and a failed assault on Falfemont Farm.  Georges final battle came late in September when the 2nd KOSB were tasked with taking the village of Morval in a joint attack with the French.  The battle was a large affair with a rolling artillery barrage which the infantry followed meeting all their objectives within 4 hours and capturing over 700 prisoners a convincing success, but George was one of the 41 killed or missing that day.  Like his brothers his body was never recovered and he is listed on the Thiepval memorial to the missing of the Somme along with 39 other men from Galashiels including David Robertson of 130 Lintburn Street who died in the same Morval attack. 

Elizabeth Inglis was survived by 2 other sons Walter Inglis jun., and John Purves from an earlier partnership and her husband.

Dr Stevenson lost his son, Sub-Lt F Stevenson, in late 1918 when he was killed by gunfire whilst serving on HMS Perth during a surface action with a U Boat. He is also listed on the Galashiels War memorial and the Chatham Naval Memorial.  The girl walking up Ladhope Bank with Mrs Inglis survived the collision

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