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Remembered Today:

Queens Own Cameron Highlanders


Rob Bulloch

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Tom Tulloch-Marshall
I have two photos I took in Bedford of the graves of the following Cameron Highlanders:

1669 Pte James Geddes, 4th Bn, died 13/12/14

1895 Pte Arthur Charker, 4th Bn, died 12/10/14

James Geddes interests me, as he is the only man I can find on SDGW as having enlisted at Culloden. I have made enquiries as to where the recruitment office was in Culloden, but I have drawn a blank.

If anyone wants a scan of the photos then let me have you e-mail address and I'll get them sent off.

Lee - you are probably aware that there was a measles epidemic in the Highland Division at that time. James Geddes was the first man in 1/4th Bn to fall victim to it. A couple of graves away from his is a W Geddes of the 4th Seaforths, died 10/10/14. Quite possibly his brother, because at the time of W Geddes' death the papers reported a brother in the Camerons.

Arthur Charker was murdered.

regards - Tom

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charlesmessenger

Tom

Your very detailed reply to my query is much appreciated. What I do find intriguing is that is the 1st/4th strength state, according to the War Dairy, on 1 Mar 16 at Etaples is 31 officers and 731 men, which is hardly radically under strength. I wonder if the strength problem lay with the 1st Camerons rather than the 1st/4th.

The fact, too, that the nucleus of the 1st/4th, which was not pegged at 4 offrs and 100 ORs until Jul 16, survived until Feb 17 indicates that the option for its survival was left open for some considerable time. To make them and the 1/9 Argylls mini IDBs does smack of politics, since it was making them exceptions to the general reinforcement policy.

The answer may well lie in interpretations to the 1915 Army Transfer Act. I have located a Kew piece, WO 32/5452, which appears to cover the debate over this. I'll look at this next time I am there. I'll let you know if i find anything relevant.

Again, many thanks.

Charles

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Arthur Charker was murdered.

Tom - You've grabbed my attention there! Do you know what happened?

I believe I have a photo of the other Geddes grave and I was wondering if they might be related or was it just a fluke that two men with the same surname would be there in that cemetery.

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If I was going to recruit for the British Army, I'm not sure that Culloden would be the most inspiring location

Jock - True, very true!

I had my first visit to the battlefield last year, a 5 hour visit, and I'm hoping to go back for next year's anniversary service with the 1745 Association.

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Tom Tulloch-Marshall
What I do find intriguing is that is the 1st/4th strength state, according to the War Dairy, on 1 Mar 16 at Etaples is 31 officers and 731 men, which is hardly radically under strength. I wonder if the strength problem lay with the 1st Camerons rather than the 1st/4th.

Charles - that's a point in regimental records of the 1/4th which has always bothered me. A draft of 70 men had joined the Bn at Corbie 17/2/16 (just over a week before they left for Etaples), which got them up to 32 Officers and 607 OR's. Shortly after arrival at Etaples a draft of about 100 is recorded as joining, and HROTCH's says that a draft of 300 was expected shortly after. (They'd have been one of the most up to strength Bn's on the Western Front !).

In fact another 100 are said to have joined 7/3/16, so on paper you are up to a very respectable 700+ OR's, but several officers have already been detached. I wondered whether these arrivals at Etaples were in fact 4th Bn men or simply unattached Camerons arriving at the Highland Division Base Depot at Etaples, never in fact destined for 4th Bn ?

Whatever - it is still all very odd because the numerical situation early in March 1916 simply didnt warrant disbandment, even if the destination of the draft arrivals at Etaples had been "massaged" to suit the post war history of the Bn.

I've never made any kind of detailed statistical analysis of what happened to the 1/4th men at the time of the effective disbandment, but it is significant that orders were issued 10/3/16 for 7 officers and 310 OR's to join No 1 Entrenching Battalion, - 1st Army A&Q Branch diaries for 9/8/15 (for example) cover their role as a reinforcement pool. The remainder of the men do seem to have been quite widely scattered amongst other battalions, though almost all of the No 1 EB men were sent to reinforce 1st Bn QOCH during Sept 1916.

Will be interested to hear if you find anything in WO32 - regards - Tom

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Tom Tulloch-Marshall
Arthur Charker was murdered.

Tom - You've grabbed my attention there! Do you know what happened?

Lee - "C" Company billets at 6 Albert Terrace, Union St, Bedford, Friday 9/10/14 - pay night.

Six Pte's, said to be drunk, had an altercation. Pte John Fraser was brandishing his bayonet (1888) and Charker got stabbed. Fraser was charged with wounding with intent to cause GBH, but when he appeared in court on the following Monday morning it was announced that Charker had died at 8am that day, so the charge was changed to wilful murder.

The case came up 16/10/14 and manslaughter was substituted, Fraser pleading not guilty. Evidence seemed to point to Charker having lunged at Fraser and the wound having been inflicted then. Not clear cut, but Fraser changed his plea to guilty and got 15 months hard labour. Final fate unknown.

Charker's headstone bears the inscription "To Memory Ever Dear"

Regards - Tom

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Tom - Than you the info.

So, the stabbing occured in 6 Albert Terrace?

When I first saw Charker's grave, and obviously not knowing the story, I didn't pay a great deal of notice to it except to take a photo. It makes you realise that no matter how simple a grave is, there is always a story there waiting to be told.

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I wondered whether these arrivals at Etaples were in fact 4th Bn men or simply unattached Camerons arriving at the Highland Division Base Depot at Etaples, never in fact destined for 4th Bn ?

Tom

Were the drafts from the 2/4th and 3/4th Bns? Why would the only front line Cameron TF battalion be used to bolster a regular battalion? That was surely the job of the 3rd Bn.

Was the intention to re-raise the 1/4th Bn at a later date? 7th and 9th Argylls TF temporarily merged due to reduced numbers in Spring 1915 but then split again shortly after.

And finally what happened to the other two TF battalions and TF recruits once 1/4th was absorbed in the 1st?

Thanks

Adam

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Tom Tulloch-Marshall
Why would the only front line Cameron TF battalion be used to bolster a regular battalion? .............. Was the intention to re-raise the 1/4th Bn at a later date? .......... what happened to the other two TF battalions and TF recruits once 1/4th was absorbed in the 1st?

Adam - I cannot give you a factual answer to this question. It has always appeared to me that disbandment of the 1/4th was a "political" decision rather than anything based on their performance during 1915, or the quality of their officers and men, etc, etc.

Maybe the writing was on the wall back in Feb 1915 when they were detached from the rest of the Highland Division (which remained at Bedford) and sent to join a Regular Division in France. This detatchment from the Territorial "umbrella" left them fully exposed to the prejudices of the Regular Army, not only in the field, but right back to Kitchener.

One of the very strange aspects is the fact that the Bn was starved of reinforcements during the latter half of 1915 (in fact post their decimation at Festubert), yet after their return to the Highland Division (by now titled the 51st) the reinforcemnts started to turn up again, yet the disbandment still went ahead. I would have thought it much more sensible if 7th Bn QOCH, after they were nearly wiped out at Loos, had been disbanded in Oct / Nov 1915 and their men used as the reinforcement pool for 1st Bn, the Terriers, and the other Service Bn's. Disbanding the 1/4th just doesnt make sense in any practical way - it has to be based on some prejudice.

As I said earlier, recruiting for the QOCH Territorials was being actively pursued as late as Jan - Feb 1916, but of course the military service act had arrived so the element of choice had effectively gone. I think the Inverness TF Association were clutching at straws by that time - they were going to be sh****d come what may.

As for men already in the pipeline ? - just diverted to the Regular or Service Battalions. Was there any intention to resurect the 1/4th ? - maybe there was, but this was happening early 1916 and nobody knew what lay ahead.

Regards - Tom

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Disbanding the 1/4th just doesnt make sense in any practical way - it has to be based on some prejudice.

Tom

It doesn't make any sense to me for a well established volunteer unit to be disbanded so early in the war. The only thing I can think of that might have prejudiced the outcome was a determination to keep Lochiel's battalions in the field at the expense of the TF battalion. Perhaps it was decided that the QOCH had to lose a battalion to make sure the others were kept up to strength and the 1/4th was the unlucky one. Maybe the reasoning was there was still the 2/4 and 3/4th bns to keep the TF traditions going and the TF was really for home defence anyway?

Didn't they suffer a similar fate in the Second World War becoming the 2nd Bn in 1942?

Cheers

Adam

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Tom Tulloch-Marshall
".......... a determination to keep Lochiel's battalions in the field .......... Didn't they suffer a similar fate in the Second World War becoming the 2nd Bn in 1942?"

Adam - the problem of 1/4th Bn TF reinforcements goes way back to March / April 1915, - it wasnt a new problem in 1916 but a recurring theme throughout 1915. (And 1/4th 79th Foot were not the only TF Battalion affected, by a long chalk).

Here's an interesting little snippet from 1st Army files during June 1915 >

"Notification was received from A.G. that the policy of amalgamation of T.F. Battalions with other units, on falling to a strength of 400 O.R. is to be discontinued. ... In future such T.F. Battalions are to retain their identity except if they express a desire to be so amalgamated or to be attached to a Regular Battalion as a separate company." ("AG" is Lieut-General Sir CFN Macready KCB, at GHQ). ...................... (Charles, - any comment to that ?).

You should also bear in mind the statement sprung on Lt Col Beaton at St Omer 14/2/16 > "In the case of the 1/4th Cameron Highlanders it had been decided that they should be drafted into the only battalion of the regiment then in France which was senior to them; 1st Battalion The Queens Own Cameron Highlanders."

The only senior battalion - by the Army's own admission. Lochiel's Service Battalions were the juniors in the mess <_<

Also remember that 1) the 1/4th OR's were all Army Form E.624 men - they'd volunteered for overseas service 2) there had been substantial "weeding" of the battalion, and recruitment into it, during 1914, and a lot of the "unsuitable" men had not made it to France - 1/4th was not an inferior unit manpower-wise 3) Lochiel's men were drawn from the same source - why should they be regarded as superior in some way ? ... And finally bear in mind that the 79th's Service Battalions had taken a terrible mauling at Loos (1/4th Bn didnt) and at the time the decision to amalgamate the 1/4th was taken Lochiel's Battalions could hardly be described as superior in terms of manpower / moral / battle experience, etc etc.

"The" TF tradition in 79th Foot was with 1/4th Bn, not the "new" TF units at home. - No, I dont think it was a practical decision at all. Only saving grace is that so many of the 1/4th men went on to join the best Battalion in the Army - 1st Bn 79th Foot, 1st Brigade, 1st Division (so many "Firsts" ! ;) ).

(Nb - we shouldnt get on to the 2nd WW because that might lead to the subject of the other great English betrayal of the Highlanders at ............... whoa > only kidding !).

Regards - Tom

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  • 8 months later...

Hello Rob,

I have just come across your post regarding the Cameron Highlanders. My interest is through research into my Grandfather Private Mitchell Kirkaldy (Regt no. 9691 and 9731).

I have managed to obtain his military records from Historical Disclosures, Glasgow and also have the 1st Battalion Cameron war diaries for July, August and September 1916. I chose these because Pte Kirkaldy was discharged with wounds on 4th September 1916 and I hoped to find out where he received these injuries. I now know from his military history sheet that he received gun shot wounds on the 31st March 1916. So I will order some more diaries.

If any of the above documents are of interest to you then let me know and I will try and scan / e-mail to you.

Best regards.

Paul Mitchell Friend.

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AthollHighlander
Lee - you are probably aware that there was a measles epidemic in the Highland Division at that time. James Geddes was the first man in 1/4th Bn to fall victim to it. A couple of graves away from his is a W Geddes of the 4th Seaforths, died 10/10/14. Quite possibly his brother, because at the time of W Geddes' death the papers reported a brother in the Camerons.

Rob

My G/G Uncle Pte William McDonald also died as a result of the outbreak in Bedford. Thanks to fellow pal David Doorne who sent me a copy of the Bedfordshire Times dated 01/01/15.

It states

"Two privates of the 4th Camerons, Pte Norman Nicholson aged 29 and Pte William McDonald aged 21 succumbed to pneumonia supervening upon measles at the Goldington Road School Hospital on Monday. At the time of writing we understand no further deaths of Scottish Territorials have taken place in Bedford. the funeral of Pte Nicholson on thursday morning was given full military honours by his company and the battalion pipers. The Rev Macfarlane, Chaplain conducted the service. In the afternoon the remains of Pte McDonald were escorted to the London & North-Western Staton by his company en route for Scotland."

William was buried in Cromdale Parish Cemetery on his return home. A native of Advie, he travelled to Inverness to enlist.

Interestingly looking through the Strathspey Herald archives there was regular weekly updates on the progress of the Highlanders in Bedford but this suddenly ceased towards the end of the year with no information regarding the outbreak being published until February 1915.

Regards

Atholl

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Sorry to hijack the thread, just on the off chance Pals, need some info on the 6th Battalions actions at Martinpuich. Any info much appreciated.

Regards, Chris.

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Hello Paul and The Forum.

This is what I have for the dates 27th March to April- 1st At 7.00.pm on the 27th March the Battalion left Les Brebis and went into cellars in South Maroc taking over from the 1st Battalion Northhamtonshire Regiment. The Black Watch held the the front line to the South West of the Double Crassier. The Camerons were in Brigade Reserve and formed working parties to improve trenches at night on the 28th & 29th working parties improved the the Reserve trenches, the weather was wet alternating with hot sun the trench condition are sticky mud with sloppy pools at intervals, the morning of the 29th the enemy shelled the cellars and also "B" Company's working party in the reserve trench luckily without inflicting casualties. The Camerons took over the front and supports from the 42nd who relieved them in the reserve trenches. 31st March 1st April Cellars heavily shelled also the ground behind them. Some newly-dug trenches on the left of the Cameron line were also shelled. On the 2nd of April at 8.00pm the Black Watch relieved the Camerons in the front line and supports, the two Battalions changing places.

There is a note that the casualties for the past 12 days were (4) four slightly wounded.

I hope this is of some help Paul.

Cheers to the forum Rob. B

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christine liava'a

I have a Cameron Highlander

Rifleman William Wood

no 58, 2nd Fiji Contingent, Fiji Defence Force

enlisted 19 August 1915 in Stratford, Essex

R/ 15219 KRRC

commissioned 22 October 1915

2nd Lieutenant Cameron Highlanders

lost commission

re-enlisted as Tpr 2195 KRRC

C M Sergeant, still in Army (1919)

wishes to retain claim to book passage

m. Sister Williams of NZ, 5 September 1916

one child

Can anyone tell me more about him?

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Christine I found a listing in the Records of the Cameron Highlanders for a 2nd Lieutenant William Wood 22nd October 1915 to 22nd April 1918 served World War 1. would this be your man ?.

Cheers Rob.

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Hello Rob et al,

As Rob knows I recently purchased a war medal to a relative S/15971 Pte. John Munro 6th Cameron Highlanders. KIA 27-6-16. This is a new area for me so I would be grateful for any help in getting started. Can anyone help with info on where he is likely to have been killed and SDGW lookup? Where would i get copies of service records etc? I have downloaded his MIC.

Thanks in advance

Regards Ian

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christine liava'a

Rob, it could be- the dates are right, but William Wood is a pretty common name!

Christine

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I also have a Cameron Highlander.

From Army List

Alfred William Cooper MBE (2923077) Regimental Sergeant Major 27th April 1934. Joined 1st June 1915. Left (Honorary Major) March 1947. World War 1 France (MBE, British War Medal, Victory Medal) 1st Battalion. World War 2 France (1939-45 Star, Defence Medal, Long Service and Good Conduct, King George V Jubilee, King George VI Coronation. Commissioned Lieutenant Quartermaster King's regiment 29th June 1940. Temporary Major 13th December 1944.

Alan

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Lt Donald Moreton Brown, 1st Battalion Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. Killed in action on 17th October 1918 and buried in Vaux-Andigny British Cemetery.

I would be most grateful for any details of the actions of the battalion during this time.

Regards

Jimmy

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Goldington Road School Hospital

I wonder if that is the old infants school that I lived behind in the 90's? Anyone with 'Bedford' knowledge know if the current school on Goldington Road is the one mentioned in the post?

If it is do you want a photo of it? I won't be over that way for some weeks (maybe even by Crimbo :(), but I can get a photo of the school for you (waiting until a weekend to get a photo of course, don't need to be pulled the Police for photographing children!)

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Hi to the Forum

JimmyJames I have some information on Lieutenant Donald Morton Brown 2nd Lieutenant 30th July 1915. Lieutenant 1st July 1917 posted to the 7th BEF 24th August 1916: Wounded: attached to the 1st Battalion BEF 1918; When he was killed he was listed as being with "A" Company.The action cover quite a few pages if you would like me to copy it and post it to you contact me off Forum. As you know by the news clipping you have of him he was at Edinburgh University I have a head and shoulders photograph of him in his Cameron uniform he is in the university Honour Roll Book I could copy and send this also, I hope this is of some help to you.

Cheers to the Forum

Yours Aye Rob. B

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Can anyone help with info on where he is likely to have been killed and SDGW lookup?

Ian - Hope this info is of some use to you.

From SDGW:

Born - Dull, Perthshire

Enlisted - Inverness

Residence - Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Killed in action, 27 June 1916.

Regarding service records, there is a small chance that you may find something at the National Archives at Kew.

But have a look at this website (click here) for your man.

It will cost you a little money to get the info (and at times a lot of searching) but I have found details of a Scot whose medals I have (Household Battalion) which included date and time of birth, parents, parent's wedding date, his wedding date, address etc.

It will not give you military info though :(

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