Private David McGaw

Photo of a PoppyPrivate David McGaw

10th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry

Died 25 September 1915

David McGaw was a Kirkinner man, born and bred but his link with Wigtown was through his employment at the Co-operative Creamery at Bladnoch. He was the eldest son of Alexander McGaw, a mason, and his wife, Helen, and was born in 1893. In 1901 the family were living at Braehead but by 1911 David, then 18, was working as a farm hand at Knockann farm. He subsequently worked at the Creamery.

With the outbreak of war he was quick to volunteer for service. The Galloway Gazette (26/12/1914) reported his enlistment with Kitchener’s Army, an all-volunteer force formed following the outbreak of hostilities. David was to join the 10th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry. After a period of training in England the 10th Battalion landed at Boulogne on 12th May 1915. As part of the British First Army, the Battalion was involved in the Battle of Loos which began on 25th September 1915. Loos was to be the first time the British army used poison gas on the battlefield.

David McGaw was to be among the many men killed on the first day of the Battle. His body was not identified and he is remembered on the Loos Memorial, which commemorates 20,000 officers and men who have no known grave. Most of the servicemen named on the Loos Memorial fell in action during the Battle. Many had died in what was to become the new strip of No-Man’s-Land between the Front Lines east of Loos by the end of this battle. After the Battle of Loos the Front Lines changed very little in this sector and it was not possible to recover or bury many of the fallen here until the battlefields were cleared from 1919. In that time, the best part of three years, unburied remains would have been subject not only to their natural decomposition, but any means of identifying an individual from his uniform or kit was exposed to the weather and shellfire.

David McGaw is also commemorated on Kirkinner War Memorial. His outstanding pay of £2 6s 11d was paid to his sister, Mrs Mary McCreadie, on 17 February 1916. She was also to receive his War Gratuity of £3 after the end of hostilities.