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Looking for help on Great Granddad


Alistet
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Medal card suggests Robert Andrew Menzies McLean was a private with Royal Highlanders and Seaforth. S/23144 and S/40968 Is the picture showing him in Seaforth uniform and the Card from the R. Highlanders?  He was from Perth, home to Black Watch, they are part of Royal Highlanders?  The Seaforth photo was taken in Port Slade, why would he be there?  His regiment as per the card would be artillery?  Any way to get unit numbers and therefore war diaries?  Also he claims on card to be Lance corporal, but medal card lists him as private. Was he telling fibs, would the censor not cross it out? Any pointers would be so very much appreciated. Thanks for reading.image.jpg.c7e0b81e3170916583cdcb6f16d6505a.jpgCC83AF46-F5E6-49E0-81F6-8D185FAEFC39.jpeg.d7869c2f91fecbe5ac30b0763a30eaa1.jpeg63053097-C202-481B-9551-288BD61E5FE1.jpeg.a57e746f480cfd60917feec4355843fe.jpeg

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He’s a Seaforth Highlander in the colourised photo.

The Royal Highlanders was at that time the fore part title of the Black Watch.  The first card shows that his unit was a part of the 51st Highland Division.  The second card with an artillery piece (gun) does not necessarily mean he was in the artillery, and along with the obverse picture of a soldier could just be decorative imagery on the card.

 

In the infantry Lance Corporal was an appointment for the rank of Private so it was correct that his MIC shows that rank.  Such men were in essence in a probationary or trustie type position to see how well they dealt with authority.  If successful as LCpl they would generally be promoted to the substantive rank of Corporal with two stripes. 

The only Seaforth battalions in the 51st (Highland) Division were all Territorials of the 1/4th, 1/5th and 1/6th Battalions.  The 1/5th can be ruled out as they wore a different badge, glengarry and kilt.  The 1/4th were the ‘Ross Highland’ Battalion and the 1/6th were a ‘Morayshire’ Battalion.  
 

The only unit to spend time down in the Home Counties was the 9th (Service) Battalion who were 9th (Scottish) Divisions’s pioneer unit and in 1915 based for a time in Farnham, Surrey, an adjacent County to Sussex where Portslade is located.

 

However, there was an Army School of Cooking at Portslade Camp during WW1 where courses were run to train men as battalion cooks.  I suspect that he might have been sent on a course there.  See: http://portsladehistory.blogspot.com/2015/02/army-cookery-in-great-war.html?m=1
He wears spats in the photo and these were typically worn early in the war, being replaced from late 1915 onwards by short puttees.

 

My conclusion then is that he was either in the Ross Highland or Morayshire Territorial Battalions of the Seaforth Highlanders and early in the war sent on a cook’s course before deploying with his unit to France and Flanders.

 

Images courtesy of J. Middleton and Historic England Archive ref: OP09793.

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A297D315-00E3-4377-9B15-48AD3C4844B1.jpeg

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Hello Frogsmile, that is detailed information indeed and really adds a lot to his biography. You have certainly given me great leads to follow. The photos also add so much. Many thanks. Alister

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Glad to help.

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Original Medal Rolls give units served overseas:

S/23144 Seaforth Highlanders: 7th (26 Infantry Brigade of 9 Division)and 2nd (10 Infantry Brigade of 4 Division) Battalions,

S/40968 Royal Highlanders: 1/7th Battalion (153 Infantry Brigade of 51 Division).

Medals issued by last unit, being RH,so served with SH units first.

First landed in France after 31.12.1915,so in all cases he joined his units in a reinforcement draft.

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That’s brilliant.  Thank you for tracking those details down.  It fits the cards perfectly that he was with the 51st Highland Division in 1918.

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