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Remembered Today:

Private Cairns Glasgow


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This is my great uncle. He was killed in action shortly after this photograph was taken. He was under age and joined up with his best friend (his brothers were already overseas). It was much against the family's wishes. Sadly, he was killed soon after going to France. I would like to find out more about what happened to him. Can anyone recognise his uniform? Many thanks for any information received.

Joanne

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Joanne,

Tell us what you already know about him. Do you know his full name, age at death, place of birth, where he lived before he joined the Army, names of his parents etc?

If you know any of these things it should be fairly straightfoward for someone to give you enough information to trace him.

Regards,

Ken

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Hi Ken,

Thanks for the advice. His name was Robert, he lived in Glasgow. Apparently, he lied about his age so not sure about that. His father was John Cairns. Perhaps I can get the other info from my mum!

Joanne

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This guy is Seaforth but I think HLI Highland Light Infantry did not wear the kilt

May help- des

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Joanne,

There are 14 R Cairns listed on the Commonwealth War Graves website - http://www.cwgc.org/

Some can be discounted by age and/or father's name.

Take a look, narrow it down as best you can and then post your possibles here.

You can probably discount the men of English & Irish regiments (unless he transferred after the photograph was taken, which is a possibility).

Do you have any idea of the year of his death, any medals he was awarded etc?

Ken

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Hi Ken,

Thank you so much for the information and this website. I am amazed. There seems two possibilites... Robert Cairns of the Seaforth..S/9656..which fits with Desmond's posting...or R Cairns S/10506 Gordons (I of course do not know if his is a Gordon's uniform). Both died at the latter stages of the war which sounds a possiblity given that he was the youngest of many brothers and sisters and his family was so against it.

Robert Cairns (Seaforth) appears in Arras memorial which is such a coincidnece because I have just been to some Arras websites because another great uncle but on my grandmother's side Robert Kilpatrick is buried in this cemetary...I have a photogragph of the grave and I know his battalion (7th Cameron Highlanders) and number. So my question is: would it be common that Scottish or Glasgow, or Cameron and Seaforths would be in the same place? I am sorry this sounds very ignorant, I am just surprised to be back at the same cemetary.

Thank you again.

Joanne

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Joanne,

this might help to confirm/eliminate either of the two possibles you mention:

Robert Cairns, S/9656, 4th battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, was born at St. Leonards, Midlothian and enlisted at leith, Midlothian.

Robert Cairns, S/10506, 9th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders was born in Old Monkland, Lanarkshire and enlisted at Baillieston.

I hope that helps.

To answer your other question, it is not at all unusual to see many different regiments listed on the same memorials and in cemeteries. During the war, units moved around frequently and served in and out of the line, to be replaced by others who did the same. A logistical nightmare!

Ken

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Hi there,

The uniform is that of a Lowland Scottish Regiment and thus rules out all the suggestions so far, uness of course he was transferred. With the Glengarry he has on he must be a member of either The Royal Scots, The Royal Scots Fusiliers, HLI and I think that is about it.

Hailing from Glasgow he is likely to have joined the HLI over the other two possibilities. Bearing in mind his father's name was John he may have used, as was common at the time, his second name, Robert in family circles so as not to be confused with his father. Thus making his real name John Cairns too.

This does give us one possibility:

Name: CAIRNS

Initials: J

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Private

Regiment: Highland Light Infantry

Unit Text: 16th Bn.

Date of Death: 28/03/1917

Service No: 35674

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: I. A. 5.

Cemetery: CAYEUX MILITARY CEMETERY

The 16th were one of the Glasgow Pals battalions formed at the outbreak of war and in the following months. He has a relatively early number, but that does not really mean much as numbers were assigned in batches and could even be re-used. His uniform tells us that he is definately a service battalion, the 1914 pattern belt says this. Thus I would tentatively suggest that this is your man.

May be it is of help, may be not. Good luck with your research.

All the best,

Tim

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Hi Tim (and everyone who helped).

I am delighted to say I've found him. He was in the HLI ..but I made a mistake about his first name. It was Hugh Cairns (youngest son). (The oldest son was John - my grandfather). The details from the war graves site is that Hugh's father was John Cairns of 41 Crossburn Street, Glasgow...bang on! He died 2/12/1917 and his service number was 350220. Does this seem right from the photo?

He is on a memorial in a cemetry in Belgium. I would like to now find out more about him if that is possible. I would be grateful for any other suggestions and advice. Many, many thanks for all your help it is very much appreciated.

Joanne

In memory of

Hugh Cairns died 2/12/17

Robert Kilpatrick died 15/3/17

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Joanne:

So glad you got the info you were looking for!

By changing forums (and your persistance) it seems to have paid off for you!

There's a GREAT bunch of people more than willing to help out in whatever way they can on the Site!

Living here in the States wasn't easy for me in my research-until I found this Site,

now it's made the research more interesting!Plus educating me on other aspects!

As you did in thanking me-that's where the reward is! "The Thank You"!

regards

gordon

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Hugh is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial a picture of which is below.

The largest Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Europe. There are 11,856 graves and the walls are inscribed with the names of 38,888 soldiers who have no known grave and died in the Ypres salient in late 1917 and 1918.

Aye

Malcolm

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Ralph J. Whitehead

According to SDGW Hugh Cairns age 20, Private, 350220, killed in action 2/12/17 France and Flanders. Per the CWGC he is listed on Panel 131 to 132, TYNE COT MEMORIAL. Son of John Cairns, of 41, Crossburn St., Glasgow. Unfortunately I do not have any details regarding their history or any personal details.

Good luck with your search.

Ralph

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Hi Everbody who helped me to find my relative Hugh,

Just to let you know if anyone is still looking in, that I got a history of the 16th HLI of which Hugh was a part. And from it seems likely he died at Passchendaele on 2/12/1917. According to this source By Thomas Chalmers (kindly suggested by a member of this forum) the Battalion was engaged in an attack on German positions near Void Farm at Passchendaele on the 1st and 2nd of Dec 1917. They seem to have attacked on the 1st then were subject to a counter-attack on the second and were heavily bombarded. The account says that of the 20 officers and 469 other ranks who went forward on Passchendaele 12 officers and 267 were casualties. It appears likely that Hugh was one of these casualties.

Many, many thanks for all your help. I have gone from having a just a photgraph and a family story to finding his regiment, where he is commemorated, and where and when he died. I think I would now like to go over to France and Belgium to visit the memorial at Tyne Cot and Ypres and the Somme, does anyone know any good tours at all?

Kind regards

Joanne

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