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Does Anyone Have A Copy Of General Jack's Diary Easily To Hand?


Fattyowls
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On the afternoon of 1st July 1916 James Jack was ordered to find out who held the village of Ovillers in preparation for the renewal of the attack on the village. He sent out a patrol led by a 20 year old subaltern called Malcolm Fraser towards the village along the spur on which Ovillers cemetery now stands. The Germans still held the village and Malcolm Fraser was shot and killed by a sniper. I happened to be looking at the documents I have about Malcolm and re-read a newspaper cutting from the Liverpool Daily Post of the 17th July 1916 reporting Malcolm's death; his uncle Norman being a minister in Liverpool. The cutting quotes a letter to the family from Malcolm's commanding officer about his death. The officer is likely to have been James Jack and echoes his diary entry for that day.

I happened to look at the cutting yesterday and noticed something I'd previously overlooked; the sentence "We brought him in that night". This suggests his body was brought back to the front lines. I've always assumed that his body is most likely in Ovillers and have started to look through the original concentration reports to see if a 2nd Lt. of the Cameronians is mentioned. The newspaper cutting makes me wonder however.

Unfortunately I loaned my copy of 'General Jack's Dairy' to a friend and was wondering if anyone has the book to hand and could check the entry for 1st July to see if it also mentions bringing Malcolm's body in. My recollection is that it didn't, but as so often I could be very wrong.

Pete.

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You're right, it doesn't. It does mention 2Lt Fraser, a sergeant and 5 privates going forward sometime after 3.30 pm. At 5 pm, British infantry were seen swarming ahead south of La Boiselle and it was hoped this would make Fraser's task less dangerous. However, later the patrol reported back having been heavily fired at and Fraser was missing.

Robin

Edited by Robin Garrett
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Thanks Robin, that's excellent. I'm wondering if the letter to Malcolm Fraser's mother may have been selective with the truth to spare her feelings as much as possible. I'm sure that the letter quoted is James Jack, see attached.

 

Fraser, MG-Liverpool Daily Post 17071916 (2).jpg

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If anyone has 2 Cameronians' war diary, it might be mentioned there.

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11 minutes ago, Robin Garrett said:

If anyone has 2 Cameronians' war diary, it might be mentioned there.

The war diary is quite brief in comparison with the diary entry or even the newspaper article; it says "During the action 2nd Lt. M. G. Fraser was killed while on patrol". I still think it is reasonable to assume that if Malcolm has a grave it is most likley in Ovillers given that he was killed close to the site and that his body was not identified after the war. Had his body been recovered it seems more probable that he would have had a named grave somewhere, especially as his batallion was taken out of the line the following day. But it's all speculation, it's just a bit better informed than it was before.

Pete.

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