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Operation Michael 1st Day

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gmac101

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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.

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