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Remembered Today:

Caterpillar Valley Cemetery Case #2: Unknown Glasgow Highlander


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This comes from the review of the COG-BR documents for the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery here:



It appeared that this was going somewhere, so I clipped it out and placed it in this separate topic.


The reference to a Glasgow Highlander 143 caught my eye, as I was not familiar with them (COG-BR 2460238). I initially presumed from the LLT that it was the "Lanarkshire (Queen’s Own Royal Glasgow and Lower Ward of Lanarkshire) Yeomanry". On the CWGC Link there are only 10 dead in France during the Great War, plus 2 where it is the "Secondary Regiment". It seems odd that they were at Bazentin-le-Petit High Wood, yet almost no casualties and no unknowns? I thought  I must be missing something - I was!


The GRU did scratch out the Regiment name and the number on GRRF 1980494. There are 12 of Highland Light Infantry with the number 143, 11 of which were lost at the Somme in 1916 (CWGC Link). There are 48 HLI in Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, so they were in the area (CWGC Link). The one with the ...143.... in his number reveals the confusion, as he was 9th (Glasgow HIghlanders) Bn., Highland Light Infantry. The LLT tells me there was a 1/9th and a 2/9th, both with the "Glasgow" affiliation. Looks like only the 1/9th is applicable to his case (100th Brigade, 33rd Division). There is only one of the 9th (Glasgow Hdrs.) Bn." on the Thiepval Memorial. The battalion was directed to move toward High Wood on 14 July 1916 (war diary page 65 of 757) where they were along the road to Bazentin-le-Petit. The remains were found in the middle of Highwood 57c.S.4.c.3.4.


I will return later with more details. These are the men on the Thiepval Memorial


surname forename death rank Highland Light Infantry #
BRUCE ALEXANDER FRASER 01-07-16 Corporal "D" Coy. 16th Bn. '14331'
BURNS THOMAS COUTTS 13-09-16 Private 12th Bn. '14328'
DICKSON RICHARD 01-07-16 Private 16th Bn. '14143'
MILLER JOHN G. 06-04-17 Private 17th Bn. '33143'
MORRISON ANDREW 01-07-16 Serjeant 16th Bn. '14390'
McCRONE JOHN 01-07-16 Private 16th Bn. '14375'
McLAGAN DONALD BROADLEY 01-07-16 Private 16th Bn. '14376'
PARK JAMES 01-07-16 Private 16th Bn. '14395'
SIM THOMAS FORBES 15-07-16 Private 9th (Glasgow Hdrs.) Bn. '331434'
WALKER SAMUEL DANIEL 01-07-16 Private "B" Coy. 16th Bn. '14312'
WATSON JOHN 01-07-16 Private 16th Bn. '14313'
YATES JAMES 01-07-16 Private 16th Bn. '14320'



Edited by laughton
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Oh oh! There is a problem already.


As I progressed on through the COG-BR documents, out pops an UNKNOWN of the 9th Highland Light Infantry (COG-BR 2460254; GRRF 2253763). The problem with that is that there is only one missing. They do not detail the regiment and battalion on the headstone for grave 7.C.31 - no idea why, I am seeing a lot of those here (HD-SCHD 2084850).


See the top line - clearly UNKNOWN 9th HLI.


So one has the name and part of the number correct and the other has the battalion number correct. Need another body.



Edited by laughton
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Looking back at the LLT Highland Light Infantry, I see that there are a number of the battalions that have the word "Glasgow" in them, so the question now is on what basis did the GRU make the remark "143. Unknown Glasgow Highlander" on the first COG-BR? The 1/9th and 2/9th are the only ones that says (Glasgow Highland) Battalion but the others have:

  • 1/5th (City of Glasgow) Battalion - not in France until April 1918
  • 1/6th (City of Glasgow) Battalion - not in France until April 1918
  • 2/5th (City of Glasgow) Battalion - not in France until April 1918
  • 2/6th (City of Glasgow) Battalion - appears not to have gone over
  • 2/7th (City of Glasgow) Battalion - appears not to have gone over
  • 15th Service Battalion (1st Glasgow) - saw service in France, 9th Brigade 32nd Division; 14th Brigade 32nd Division 3/1/18 - 97 on Thiepval Memorial
  • 16th Service Battalion (1st Glasgow) - saw service in France, 9th Brigade 32nd Division; Pioneer Battalion 32nd Division 22/2/18 - 257 on THiepval Memorial
  • 17th Service Battalion (1st Glasgow) - saw service in France, disbanded February 1918 - 183 on Thiepval Memorial
  • 18th Service Battalion (1st Glasgow) - saw service in France, 106th Brigade 35th Division, became 18th (Glasgow Yeomanry) Battalion 22/9/17 - 92 on Thiepval Memorial

Maybe it is a question of markings and did one or all appear to be "Highland"? What was the distinction - the badge, the cap, the kilt?


There are also 10 that had the "Highland Light Infantry" as their Secondary Regiment that are listed on the Thiepval Memorial (CWGC Link). These ones that were affiliated in some way with the (Glasgow Highland) Battalion - both with the 1st/9th -  are:

Private Archibald Campbell McKinnon might still have been wearing the insignia of the 1st/9th Battalion (Glasgow Highland) Division. If I understand the process correctly, Second Lieutenant David McCulloch Roberton would have switched to the attire of the Machine Gun Corps (Motors). I stand to be corrected!



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As it turns out, there is a solution to this case, which I identified in the main topic about this cemetery (see post #11). What we found there was that there was a Special Memorial No. 18 for Private G. R. Hay: (CWGC Link)


Both Private Hay and Private Sim were killed in action on the same date - 15 July 1916. That means that we now know the names of the two men. Some might say, but you do not know which Private is in which grave!


But we do, as if you go back and check the first COG-BR list above, or click here COG-BR 2460238, you will see that part of his service number was "143". That belonged to Private Thomas Forbes Sim #331434.


That means the only other missing man of the 9th (Glasgow Hds.) Bn. Highland Light Infantry, listed for Special Memorial No. 18,  is Private Gordon Ritchie Hay #4350. It is a good job they caught the "1" as part of the number or we would not be able to do anything with the "43", as it coincidentally appears in both numbers.


CATERPILLAR VALLEY CEMETERY, LONGUEVAL Sp. Mem. 18. - move him to Plot 7 Row C Grave 31 in the same cemetery


Service Number 4350

Died 15/07/1916

Aged 20

"A" Coy. 9th (Glasgow Hds.) Bn. 
Highland Light Infantry

Currently on the Thiepval Memorial Pier and Face 15 C. - move him to CATERPILLAR VALLEY CEMETERY, LONGUEVAL Plot 6 Row A Grave 38


Service Number 331434

Died 15/07/1916

Aged 20

9th (Glasgow Hdrs.) Bn. 
Highland Light Infantry


You have to love it when the pieces fall together so nicely!


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Not so fast there Mr. L!


Going through all the documents again for the Special Memorials and on the 2nd last one there is another man of the 9th Highland Light Infantry in 12.G.8 (COG-BR 2460356). He was found at 57c.S.4.c.2.4. See the 3rd from the bottom.


So now we have two (2) men that are clearly marked as 9th/H.L.I. Looks like this case just blew to pieces again!


All three of the men were found in sector 57c.S.4.C.3, the first two being c.3.4 and the last one c.3.5, so really not a difference.


It could be now that the third man is Pte McKinnon, who was reported to be "attached to" the 9th/H.L.I. He is mentioned in post #3 above.


I have NO IDEA if a Private that was attached to another battalion would switch insignia.




Edited by laughton
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