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William Andrew Sandison MM 1/7th Gordons


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Further to my earlier post, I have enclosed the London Gazzette Citation, plus original Citation Card for William Andrew Sandison.

Apologies for not uploading in previous post - could moderator please attach?

These are two crucial documents for us. But...can we get any detail on them?

Location - Beaumetz-Morchies Line during German Offensive, March 1918.

Why - For manning a Lewis Gun. The rest left to our imagination.

That is it........or is it?



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All I can say is keep digging! I never thought I'd learn how my ancestor earned his medal besides "holding his position under fire" but I eventually found the whole citation!

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The definitive answer may lie in the Battalion War Diary or Citation but from the 51st(Highland) Division Pioneer Battalion History.

"From 21st to 26th March,the Battalion was in the thick of the fight.They first came into contact with the enemy on the Morchies-Beaumetz line,and repelled enemy attacks there.On the afternoon of the 22nd,the enemy made a heavy attack from Morchies,which was counteracted by our tanks,and so allowed the Battalion to make a slight advance,and keep in close contact with the enemy during the night.While our posts held him in check,the Battalion withdrew to the "Red Line"east of Bancourt,where they strengthened and organised the position."


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This is right at the time of the German last great offensive using the troops recalled after the collapse of the Russians.

Desperate fighting was the order of the day, many units were simply overwhelmed or outflanked, so keeping a machine gun post in action whilst all around the lines were collapsing took a special kind of courage, enabling his comrades to move back relatively unscathed.

Obviously the actual citation is what you are looking for, but even that may not give much information.

Dycers description may be the best you'll get.

Any unit that made any advance at that time, when all around were falling back would have made headlines at HQ, hence the award!

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Thanks to all for your help and information.

Sergeant, we'll keep looking.

George, I have looked with no success at the 1/7th Gordon War Diary from this time. Grandad was noted as being with them. I presume the 51st Pioneer Battalion is different? Where would I locate this? The extract below is what we've taken so far from the 51st Highland Division History.

On the 21st March, Late afternoon: 2 ½ companies of 7th Gordon Highlanders ordered to be sent up to the battle zone By night Time: 22nd March

“Towards the evening the enemies success on the left flank began to make itself felt. Just before 6pm a heavy attack developed. 7th Black Watch were engaged from both sides of the Beumetz-Morchies Line, and were driven back to the Beaumetz-Morchies road. Also, Remnants of a company of the 6th Black Watch, in gun pits north of the road reinforced by the 8th Royal Scots and remnants of the 7th Gordon Highlanders. The division, though seriously depleted in numbers, retained a continious front.”[1]

[1] History of the Fifty First Highland Division 1914-1918, by Major F. W. Bewsher, Naval and Military Press

Mike, we'll look to progress work with local newspapers from the time. We were lucky in Shetland having two, The Shetland News and Shetland Times. I will also try the Scotsman Archive.

Kevin, thanks for the further detail and description. It all adds weight to the story.

Thanks to you all for your help. If you come up with anything else, please, pleae keep me posted.

When on our tour last October, it was very emotional placing a Shetland flag on a tree roughly where this defensive line would have been.

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