Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Search James Gow, Serjeant Royal Scots Fusiliers


Guest heiland laddie
 Share

Recommended Posts

Guest heiland laddie

Hello everyone, I am new here so I hope you’ll be patient with this very long post.

I am trying to find out about my paternal grandfather’s war service – James Gow. From family tradition and photos, I know he was a native of Perthshire, born either in Dalwhinnie or Dalnaspidal. Pre-war, he was a gamekeeper by profession and he joined the local TF battalion, 6th Black Watch (later called 1/6th) early in the war. His battalion was part of the 51st Highland Division. Somewhere in my dad’s house there are studio photos of granddad, as I remember, firstly as a private and later as a corporal in the Black Watch. A later outdoor photo shows him in the uniform of a serjeant (I think ?) of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. I do not have his war medals and I don’t know his service number. Looking at the great war family research facility, I can’t find an NCO rank for J or James Gow in the RSF but I did find a “J Gow” who was a serjeant in the Black Watch – his number was 200251. I wonder if that can be him ?

In the photo I mention of the RSF’s, he is standing with another RSF serjeant, who is Neil Weir (my great uncle). After the war, my granddad married Neil’s sister, Margaret. Neil Weir belonged to the Glendaruel/Cowal area of Argyll and as I understand it, joined his local TF battalion, the 8th Argylls (1/8th), also part of the 51st Highland Division. I presume that sometime in 1918, my granddad and great uncle were transferred to the RSF’s. I’m pretty sure that the great war family research entry for a Neil Weir, Sjt RSF, service number 265056, must be him. I don’t know which battalion of the RSF’s he or granddad served in. Any information on these two family soldiers, when they joined, where they went, who they were with, when they left etc would be gratefully received. It would be really good to be able to fill in these gaps before they are lost forever.

Likewise, I should like to search for 3 more relatives:-

Peter Montgomery – Piper, 2/7th Royal Scots (TF). My maternal granddad. A native of Pathhead, Midlothian (born around 1885 to 89 ?). He was married by the war’s start and was a bit older. I presume that’s why he went to the reserve 2/7th battalion instead of the active 1/7th. From what my mother told me when she was alive, my granddad later served in Ireland. There is a great war family research entry for a Peter Montgomery, Private, Royal Scots. Two numbers are given - 2742 and 300822. I don’t know if this is him, but it sounds plausible. Though a piper, he was a private.

William Gow – Lieutenant, Royal Warwicks. My great uncle Willie Gow. According to my elderly aunt, her dad was the only Scottish officer in his English county battalion. There is a great war family research entry for a William Younger Gow, 2nd Lieutenant 1/8th Royal Warwickshire Regt (no service number shown) which sounds very much like it could be him. I would be very pleased to know anything about his war service. I understand that in WW2, he may have been a Colonel or Brigadier in the 8th Army, under General Neil Ritchie and later may have been in PI Force.

David Elder Robertson – S/9365 L/Cpl, 8th Black Watch (KIA). My mum’s Uncle Dave volunteered for Kitchener’s Army. He was a native of Musselburgh, Midlothian and was in his later twenties when he joined up. He joined the 8th (Service) Battalion, Black Watch, part of 9th (Scottish) Division (New Army). He was on the Western Front from 1915 and was killed in action on 3rd May 1917 in the area of Arras. His Black Watch hackle was sent back to his parents and is still in my dad’s home. Also still surviving is a brief letter he wrote home on YMCA paper from the trenches in December 1915, where he describes his job in a forward listening-sap, refers to the ‘queer smell’ in the trenches and requests his old gardening trousers to be sent out so he can cut them into shorts for wear under his kilt in the bitingly cold winter conditions. Another letter from a stretcher-bearer in 1917 tactfully describes an hour’s journey into death in a front-line trench for Dave after a fatal wound. I really would like very much to know about his service. I know from a photo that he was in Borden Camp in Spring 1915. After that, the battalion and the Division went to France. I know he died at Arras on Thursday 3rd May 1917. What happened to him in between ? He has become a focus for a future pilgrimage for me. Some day, if I can know where, I would like to visit the precise place where his platoon, company, battalion was on 3rd May 1917 and imagine his kind presence. It would be my labour of love for my dear mother, who died before she could make that pilgrimage herself. Uncle Dave was my granny’s beloved and deeply-missed brother and mum’s very special uncle who died before she was even born, but who learned about him as a little girl. Can anyone help me please ?

Thank you in advance

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome - you've come to the right place for information.

wrt

William Gow – Lieutenant, Royal Warwicks. My great uncle Willie Gow. According to my elderly aunt, her dad was the only Scottish officer in his English county battalion. There is a great war family research entry for a William Younger Gow, 2nd Lieutenant 1/8th Royal Warwickshire Regt (no service number shown) which sounds very much like it could be him. I would be very pleased to know anything about his war service. I understand that in WW2, he may have been a Colonel or Brigadier in the 8th Army, under General Neil Ritchie and later may have been in PI Force.

A friend of mine was a Captain in PiFORCE - I'll ask him - although he is in his late 80s.

Aye

Malcolm

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello,

I have had a look at the regt. numbers that are given with James or J. Gow for the Royal Highlanders (Black Watch):

James Gow, Royal Highlanders

S/15021 - ?Bn.

S/19873 (Gordons) and S/41518 – 8th Bn. - date of death 30/09/1918

S/11462 and 268552 – 1/6th Bn.

2926 – 1/6th Bn. - date of death 05/12/1915

2958 and 200556 – 4/5th Bn. - date of death 27/08/1917

1157 - ?Bn.

J. Gow, Royal Highlanders

290001 – 1/7th

200251 – 1/4th

S/11462 – as above (1/6th Bn.)

3/1599 – 1/7th

Using a combination of the Scottish National War Memorial database SNWM and the GWFs Territorial site TF renumbering I have added in the info found for each man.

I would suggest that the most likely Black Watch candidate for your grandfather would be S/11462//268552 because this Territorial no. matches with his local battalion, the 1/6th. This presumes he was still with them in 1917 (when the renumbering took place). It has to said that without knowing a few details about his service, the only way to be sure about which number is his would be to find his service records at the National Archives - no better than a 1 in 3 chance due to the majority being lost due to damage during the WW2 blitz.

A James Gow in the Royal Scots Fusiliers has the number 265315 which corresponds to the 11th Bn. This would also be the battalion of Neil Weir with the service no. 265056. Coincidence?

Hope this provides a few ideas, or at least rules out some of the possibles.

Stuart

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest heiland laddie

Thank you both for your warm welcome and certainly your very informative and helpful research. This gives me something to work with. My father is still alive, but his recollections of his father's details are sketchy, not least because his father, who died in 1946, hadn't told him much detail of his time in the trenches. Only the anecdotes and snippets of army ditties like "Why did I join the 6th Black Watch, Why did I join the army ? Oh why did I join the 6th Black Watch, I must have been bloomin' barmy !". Or his Uncle Neil's song "Ye can talk about yer Gordons and yer Camerons sae braw, Yer silver-streakit Seaforths and the gallant Forty-Twa, but gie tae me the tartan o' the lads who look sae fine, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders - The Thin Red Line !" . Also, my dad doesn't have his dad's service medals to check his service number, so this forum has helped greatly.

Luckily, I have more knowledge of my dad's exploits in WW2, than he has of his dad's in WW1. My dad was in S.O.E. Force 136, operating in Burma. Yet for all the hellish conditions of the jungle war and the nerve-wracking experience of operating behind Japanese lines, my dad still reckons he wouldn't have swopped his war conditions for those that his father must have gone through on the Western Front in the Great War.

BTW did you ever see a TV series around 1964 called "The Great War" ? I was just a kid of 10 when it appeared on TV but I was rivetted to the set. The music set the tone, to me it was eerie and reeked of death, very unnerving. The footage was like visions of Hell. All in all it was much more scary for me than any ghost or horror film could ever be. But it was unmissable, all the more so because it was real events, real people and the interviewees were the same sort of age as some of our neighbours. I began to ask myself - had quiet Mr so-and-so at number 48 been though all this ? That series is burned in my memory. I must get the dvd.

thanks

Lachlan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest heiland laddie

Malcolm

Yesterday, I was on the phone to my father, who told me a little bit more about Uncle Willie. My hunch that the WW1 entry is him is correct. Apparently, his middle name - Younger, was given to him to honour his godfather, who was owner of a well-known Scottish brewery company (yes - I have been known to sample their products on the odd occasion :) ). How he came to be in the Warwicks I can't imagine. After WW1, he was based in Persia, which is where his daughter Betty (my 'Aunt') was born and lived awhile. She was later sent to a boarding school in Edinburgh. Whilst at school, she was summoned one day to see the headmistress, where a squad of detectives and police were waiting. They wanted to see this Betty Gow to question her and perhaps eliminate her from their enquiries. Why ? Because in the USA, the World was abuzz with news that the Lindbergh's baby had been kidnapped and the now-absent nanny involved was called Betty Gow. When they saw 'oor Betty'' in her little school uniform, she was scored off the police list.

Lachlan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sgt James Gow 200251 of the Royal Highlanders won a Military Medal announced in the London gazette on 2-11-1917 (published 30-10-1917). he is listed as being from Dundee, and as Stuart has said his number puts him in the 1/4th Battalion TF.

200251 Sjt. J. Gow, R. Highrs. (Dundee).

http://www.gazettes-online.co.uk/archiveVi...&selHonourType=

This could narrow the field down...

A second J. Gow of RE won an MM and Bar:

LG 29-8-1918 (26-8-1918)

43594 2nd Cpl. J. Gow, M.M., R.E. (Alloa).

Steve.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

Hieland Laddie, Hello, I'm another newbie!

Your Great Uncle Dave was in the same Battalion (8th Service) as my Great Uncle John Robertson.

I think the surname may just be coincidence, but this isn't -John went missing, presumed KIA, on exactly the same day, May 3rd, 1917, at Arras.

His father (also John Robertson) received the telegram on his 21st birthday. Made this last weekend quite poignant, as it was my own twins' 21st, and being a brassband family we were also all involved in a couple of Remembrance functions.

My dad never knew John jr, being born 20 years later.

I was most interested to read your account of Dave, it fills in details that are new to me. I've found odd scraps although just a beginner to this really.

Bit late tonight, I'll write more later!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is an account of Jamie Fergusson who came back from America to serve in the 8th Black Watch Bn, a fascinating article which mentions research inc. the Bn war diary at Kew and much detail of the Battalion's experiences. I haven't read it all yet, just bookmarked the page on a very latenight surf , Googling 8th Battalion Black Watch' and only remembered to check it out after seeing your post!

Includes an excellent photo of him plus fascinating background which must have been very relevant to both our gt-uncles. He actually died in 1916 but the article descrives details past that. It also says that the 8th suffered '3000 casualties out of a normal strength of 850' plus the very telling sentence 'It is doubtful that a single soldier in the battalion , with the possible exception of some cooks and administrative personnel, went through the war without becoming a casualty'.

http://histsoc.stanford.edu/pdfST/ST27no1....n%22%20Perth%22

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...