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Identifying a soldier of the 5/6th Royal Scots


Calgacus
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I have been trying to trace my great-great-uncle, who was killed in the GW. Family tradition held that he died in 1916, on the Somme, but I had no more information than that. Apart from this, I have very little - he was a widower with four children, and in his late 30s as far as I know, and he was from Edinburgh.

I have just found a record on CWGC that may be his, based on name, time and place of death, and regiment, the Royal Scots being an Edinburgh unit. Here is the information found:

DUFF, JAMES

Initials: J

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Private

Regiment/Service: Royal Scots

Unit Text: 5th/6th Bn.

Date of Death: 17/04/1917

Service No: 275870

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Pier and Face 6 D and 7 D.

The problem is that I can't prove if this is my man. I also can't find anything more about him, and I live too far away to visit any records that may exist offline.

Can anyone out there help with possible further lines of enquiry?

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Hello

this particular James Duff enlisted with 1/6 Scots on 19/4/15 at Edinburgh. He was a printer by trade and gave a home address of 61 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh. 1/6 was a pre war TF battalion and later became the 5/6th. A later address is given at 20 Bank Street, Edinburgh, (NOK?) and John Duff, 34 Drummond Street, Edinburgh.

Any help?

David

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Surname DUFF

Firstname James

Service Number 275870

Date Death 17/04/1917

Decoration

Place of birth Edinburgh

Other 5/6th Bn.

SNWM roll THE ROYAL SCOTS (LOTHIAN REGIMENT)

Rank Pte

Theatre of death F.& F.

Drummond Street is opposite Edinburgh University Old Quad.

Aye

Malcolm

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Wow. That was fast! Thanks very much both of you. It is my relative, after all. It's great to have so much information - where did you find that stuff?

Also, do you know where I might go to find any further information with the details you've given me. I know about Medal Rolls & discharge papers - I'm presuming the latter won't exist for those KIA, but were the former still issued?

Also, given that he was a widower with children, does anyone have any idea why he might have enlisted? It could be patriotism, but I'd be surprised given the family generally were Irish by identification and ILP by affiliation, and my great grandfather never felt any such urge to enlist. Could it be that he was unemployed? Would it say so on the form or still list his trade? Any other thoughts on a circumstance like this one?

Thanks again, both of you

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Mathew

E-mails sent.Enjoy.

This is his medal index card.

post-24943-1234702826.jpg

Have to gently challenge you re the Irish assumption. Pre 1916 the Irish (north and south, green and orange) volunteered in huge numbers. Yes, they had their own (political) reasons but there was little stigma attached to the British army at that time. :)

Do you know where he was from in Ireland?

David

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Mathew

E-mails sent.Enjoy.

This is his medal index card.

post-24943-1234702826.jpg

Have to gently challenge you re the Irish assumption. Pre 1916 the Irish (north and south, green and orange) volunteered in huge numbers. Yes, they had their own (political) reasons but there was little stigma attached to the British army at that time. :)

Do you know where he was from in Ireland?

David

I know the Irish were fairly numerous in the GW army, but I meant that I didn't see him having such a level of patriotism as to volunteer despite being the sole guardian of four kids. Not that he wouldn't have been patriotic to an extent.

The political views would be more of a hindrance, although I'm not sure if he shared the political views of his brother, who was a Maxton-like ILP man and pacifist.

And they weren't Irish, but fourth generation immigrants, family from Belfast. Of course in those days, integration wasn't particularly advanced, and from all I've heard they were still fairly Irish in cultural terms, living in the old town - practically an Irish ghetto at the time.

Anyway, I'm just casting around for possible clues as to his motivation.

Thanks again for the documents!

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  • 4 years later...

Just found this thread when I was doing research on a medal group that I have just purchased to a Haviland WATTERS 5/6th RS, his regimental number is 275853! Rather close to your relatives. WATTERS medal index card gives his date of entry as Egypy 29/8/15.

This will give you an idea what he was up to in Egypt. http://www.1914-1918.net/wff.htm

Cheers Ed

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Hi Calgacus

James Duff (5/6th Royal Scots, 14th Brigade, 32nd Division) died at St Quentin; the 32nd Division was on the extreme right of the British line when the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line in March 1917, and in the first few days of April 1917, the 5/6th Royal Scots were heavily engaged in action just west of St Quentin. After that they dug in, and the fighting became nasty and attritional trench warfare, whilst further north the Battle of Arras was being fought.

Ewings regimental history of the Royal Scots makes no mention of any particular action involving the 5/6 RS on the 17th April, but I note that he doesn't have a named grave, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Monument. It would be interesting to see what the battalion war diary has for that date, and see if it sheds any light on the lack of a named grave: perhaps he originally had a named grave, but trace of it was lost in the subsequent fighting around St Quentin?

William

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  • 2 years later...
Guest Edinburgh

Hi Calgacus

I read your post and I believe we are related because James Duff was my great grandfather. He was killed in action at Arras and I can tell you quite a lot about him and the family.

My grandmother was one of his five children who were left orphaned after he was killed. He was married to Sarah Carr who was of Irish descent and who died aged 29 before he joined up. He was 37 years old and he lived in Holyrood Road Edinburgh. He was a printer with Nelson's. You must be related to his brother John Duff whose family went to live in Glasgow. When he was killed, the children were brought up by their Auntie Dolly who had a shop. She was only 18 years old when she took them in and did a very good job of it. There was Johnny, Molly, Ella, Rosie and my grandmother Peggy Duff. I can tell you more if you are interested. I have a photo of him too.

All the best

Evelyn

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