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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Lt James Hunter Aitken Black Watch

Anthony Gorst

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Remembrance Day – Polyboys of the First World War Dear all

Just thought I'd share this - one of 400 names on the memorial I am researching and whose name will be honnoured tomorrow. Any further information gratefully received

Second Lieutenant James Hunter Aitken died on the 2nd March 1916 aged 23 while serving with the 7th Training Reserve Battalion Black Watch (Royal Highlanders). He is buried West of the church in FARNHAM ROYAL (ST. MARY) CHURCHYARD near his home. He was one of five children and lived with his widowed mother Isabella Aitken at Biddles Farm, Farnham Royal, Slough. He was a member of the Harriers at the Polytechnic which he had joined in September 1913 while he was employed as an Architectural Assistant . He went to France in September 1914 as a private in the London Regiment but returned home in December 1915 on being commissioned into the Black Watch. He was serving at the Ripon Bombing School as an instructor when he was killed in a training accident. A grenade had been thrown by a Lance Corporal but failed to clear the parapet of the trench. Lt Hunter picked up the live grenade and attempted to throw it again but again the grenade failed to clear the edge and it bounced back into the trench. Lt Aitken waved the Lance Corporal away and stooped over the bomb to contain the explosion. He died that night in the Military Hospital. As the Polytechnic Magazine put it he ‘deliberately sacrificed himself to save another and a more brave act it would be difficult to imagine.’

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A very brave man and a very noble act. However, as my own grandfather lost his eye in a grenade throwing exercise accident, I have come to realise through my studies just how common this type of accident was.

We shall remember them all.


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A very gallant act, may he rest in peace for evermore.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends"


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