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Remembered Today:

Zantvoorde British Cemetery Case #4: Captain Gordon Highlanders 1914


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This comes from:



Looks like another one where there is something amiss with the information: 

  • Gordon Highlanders lost in 1914 = 532
  • Belgium only = 351 (as are the rest below)
  • Majors = 1 (Ypres Reservoir Cemetery) 3rd Bn attd 1st/5th Bn (they did not arrive until May 1915?)
  • Captains = 2 (2nd Bn Zantvoorde 6.E.2 and 1st Bn Poperinghe 1.B.4)
  • Lieutenants = 6
    • Ypres(Menin Gate) Memorial = 3 (all 2nd Bn, same as the Captain in Zantvoorde)


The bottom on this page with the "998 or 9982" was identified as Private Mathieson #9982, also of the 2nd Battalion, lost 29 October 1914.


I will check the war diary for the 1st and 2nd Bn as soon as I update the list.



Edited by laughton
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Looks as likely 1st or 2nd Bn candidate. For 1914:

  • 1st Bn 8th Bde 3rd Div (then Army Troops 12 Sept - 30 Sept)
  • 2nd Bn 20th Bde 7th Div

The date looks like late October 1914 when 3 Lts missing and Captain Brooke is buried in Zantvoorde, all 2nd Bn. The war diary under 20th Brigade 7th Division starts in October 1915 and (WO95/1656/2 page 154 of 548) and then on the next page there is a note:


The War Diaries for October to December 1914 have been made up from the Diaries of other units of the 20th Infantry Brigade, the original Diaries of the battalion not having been received by the Historical Section, Military Branch. Dated 7 April 1922


They do exist as described, quite a feat of work to do that from other units information. On 18 October 1914 the 2nd Bn Gordon Highlanders are on the forward ridge at KRUISEIK-AMERICA. The Brigade line (war diary page 169 of 548) goes back to ZANDVOORDE (28.P.3 the sector below 28.J.33). KRUISEECK is at 28.J.36 and the remains were in 28.J.29 (NIEUWE KRUISEECK). Captain Sworder is reported wounded circa 22-24 October but apparently survived. There was a lot of action, casualties and captures in the following days (war diary page 171 of 548) and on the 28th they mustered at Gheluvelt with 26 officers and 812 OR, the most in the brigade. Word was that the German 27th German Reserve Corps was to take the crossroad southeast of Gheluvelt, which would be at 28.J.28.b.0.9 (McMaster Map 28). The 2nd GOrdon Highlanders were sent to the area, withdrawing after there was no attack. German artillery opened up on the 29th, followed by an overwhelming rush of the enemy into the line.


Here it refers to the stand taken by Captain B.G.R. Gordon (page 173 of 548), which lead to the report on Lt. James Brooke V.C., M.I.D. who would die that day. That led me to the report in "Victoria Crosses on the Western Front August 1914- April 1915: Mons to Hill 60" (see details this page) That extract is copyrighted so I can't post it here but it has an excellent sketch as well. It places the 2nd Bn Gordon Highlanders in 28.J.29.d., precisely where the remains were recovered. Teh CWGC lists Lt. Brooke as Captain Brooke (CWGC Link) in Zantvoorde Grave 6.E.2. Our missing Captain is in 6.D.9 so not the same Captain. The ware diary also reports the death of Lieut. Hon S Fraser, who the CWGC reports as a 2/Lieut., 3rd Bn attached 2nd Bn. No other Captains are reported KIA.


There is a summary list (War diary page 176 of 548) of the casualties for 29th - 31st October 1914. For Captains we have:

  • Captain G. N. MacLean wounded and missing
  • Captain J. L. G. Burnett wounded
  • Captain B.G.R. Gordon wounded (we know he survived a while longer)

It would appear that Captain Godfred MacLean was taken prisoner (ICRI Link and here).


The war diary list includes only two (2) Lieutenants, both on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial:

The problem is that the COG-BR clearly says "3 Stars". Had one of those two Lieutenants received a battlefield promotion? If so, would they not be listed as such in the war diary, even if not by the CWGC (who tends to "bump up" ranks on the database)?


The Captains of the 1st Bn. Gordon Highlanders killed in October 1914 (war diary page 10 of 78) are noted as:

They are both buried in France. The 1st Battalion did not arrive in Poperinghe until 1 November 1914. All Captains are accounted for after that date (CWGC Link). Only Captain M. J. Hamilton was KIA in Belgium on 28 November 1914. His death is not mentioned in the war diary, when they were in the trenches near KEMMEL (28.N.21).


So there is no answer relative to a Gordon Highlander!


If it was in the same brigade, there are some other options but I do not know if they could be confused: (they were in the same brigade)


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Just to make sure, the GRRF still reports the casualty in Plot 6 Row C Grave 9 is an UNKNOWN BRITISH CAPTAIN of the GORDON HIGHLANDERS.


By the time it is written up in the HD-SCHD they know there is a problem and now he is just an UNKNOWN BRITISH CAPTAIN, no regimental details provided.


It would appear that this case has come to an END.





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