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Remembered Today:

B Coy. 7 Cameron Highlanders - 31 July 1917


Piorun
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I'm trying to find out more information about the place of death of my wife's uncle, Private John MacMillan (McMillan), 7 Cameron Highlanders, who is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial. I would be grateful for your interest.

B Coy., 7 Cameron Highlanders, was part of 15 Division, 44 Brigade, and was staged in St. James Trench on the morning of the the start of Third Ypres (aka Passchendaele or Pilkem Ridge). Being a service battalion company, I am assuming that he went "over the top" some time after the attack hour of 0350 and I know that he died that day.

St. James Trench was "a little east" of Cambridge Road and the southern boundary of Divisional and Brigade ops was the old railway line, now a roadway. The northern line of brigade ops would have been about halfway between the railway line and the Ieper-Zonnebeke road. The attack would have run parallel to the railway line.

I know that the Brigade reached some five hundred yards past Frezenberg by late morning and that Brigade HQ established itself in the fornmer German front line around that time. Counter-attacks were experienced in the northern sector around 45 Brigade.

I am assuming that John died somewhere east of St. James Trench, north of the railway line, and west of Frezenberg.

Q. Can anyone help me pinpoint the location of St. James Trench more accurately?

Q. can anyone give me more information on the ops of 7 Camerons that day?

Any information would be greatly appreciated, no matter how apparently trivial.

Antony Alexander Kozlowski

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Hi Antony, and welcome to the Forum. I have the batta;lion history at home, but I'm not going to be in a position to look at it until tomorrow night I'm afraid. If no-one else gets in first, I'll have a gander then for you.

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Hi Antony. Welcome to the forum. You seem to already have quite a lot of information but I have to say that in the Official History, the only mention of Cameron Highlanders is the 6th battalion. I will quote it for you. " The 6/Cameron Highlanders , on the left out of effective range of this fire, pressed on relentlessly, and at 11.45 am after a sharp fight for the defences on Hill 37, a dominant feature of the spur, where 150 prisoners were taken, gained the objective; patrols then occupied Dochy and Otto Farms beyond the Zonnebeke-Langemarck road." The fire referred to is MG fire from its right flank. Perhaps your man was transferred to 6th from 7th? The reference quoted is from Pilckem Ridge, 31st July.

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Hi Antony. Welcome to the forum. You seem to already have quite a lot of information but I have to say that in the Official History, the only mention of Cameron Highlanders is the 6th battalion. I will quote it for you. " The 6/Cameron Highlanders , on the left out of effective range of this fire, pressed on relentlessly, and at 11.45 am after a sharp fight for the defences on Hill 37, a dominant feature of the spur, where 150 prisoners were taken, gained the objective; patrols then occupied Dochy and Otto Farms beyond the Zonnebeke-Langemarck road." The fire referred to is MG fire from its right flank. Perhaps your man was transferred to 6th from 7th? The reference quoted is from Pilckem Ridge, 31st July.

Thank you, Tom. 6 Camerons were in 45 Brigade which was the Divisional reserve that day. It did push through to the line beyond Frezenberg but then ran into the strong counter-attacks I mentioned. 7 Camerons were in 44 Brigade which was operating in the south end ofthe Divisional ops area. 46 Brigade took the north front. Your comment does point up the difficulties of researching at this remove. I believe that both 6 and 7 Camerons were designated as Service Battalions, yet 6 Camerons appear to have been operating as front-line assault troops and 7 Camerons are almost never mentioned. Very frustrating for ageing relarives :(

Yours aye, Antony

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Got in a bit earlier than expected: yes, there are a couple of pages in the battalion history. If you can post an e-mail address, I'll scan and e-mail to you at the weekend, fitted in amongst the 6 Nations!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Antony. Just checking: did you get my e-mail OK?

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Steven:

Again, my apologies for apparent rudeness.

I suffer from effects of an acquired brain injury and oftimes lose the thread of what I'm doing. The intensity of my researching two uncles at the moment is compounded by the wonderful responses I get from comrades like you - and then I get led on to others' posts and find myself trying to help them. If I was fifty years younger, I might be able to handle all this :blush:

Thank you so much for the excepted history. I did have some of that but I'm trying to place the company positions in the trenches listed. This is tricky as, for instance, the only map I have of St. James Trench shows that it clearly crossed Divisional boundaries on 31 July and I'm finding myself in the position of a Bn. commander placing men some ninety-odd years later in the correct portion of the Trench.

I think I'll take a chance and subscribe to Linesman.

Again, a thousand thanks.

Yours, Antony

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