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Category Archives: 1916

Private John Alexander Ross

Private John Alexander Ross
14th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment
Died 3 September 1916
A gravestone in Wigtown High Cemetery is the only indication of a connection between John Ross and Wigtown.
It reads:
In memory of Mary Mayor wife of Alexander Ross died at Stranraer 9th July 1907 aged 41 years. Daughter Christina Mayor died at Wigtown 10th January 1897 aged 8 months. Son John Alexander, Sergeant, Hampshire Regiment, killed in action Somme 3rd September 1916 aged 22 years.
John was born on 18 September 1893 at the Court Building in Banff, the son of Police Constable Alexander Ross and Mary Ross, nee Mavor. Alexander and Mary had only been married for a month prior to John’s birth and, from that point onwards, Mary seems to disappear. In the 1901 census young John, then aged 7, still lived at Banff with his grandparents and aunt, Christina. In 1911, aged 17, he had joined the army: the census shows him living at the barracks in Berwick.
It is possible that, after a spell in the army, John left and returned to Stranraer where his family lived, his father being a Police Superintendent. However, at the outbreak of war he re-enlisted, at Portsmouth, and joined the Hampshire Regiment. The 14th Battalion was raised in September 1914 and remained in Britain until March 1916 when it crossed to France.

Rifleman Stanley Rolfe

Rifleman Stanley Rolfe
1st/16th Battalion, London Regiment
Died 10 September 1916
It is not immediately apparent why Rifleman 2096 Stanley Taverner Rolfe should be commemorated on Wigtown War Memorial. A soldier with the 1st/16th Battalion, London Regiment (Queen’s Westminster Rifles) whose parents lived in Shepherd’s Bush, London, Rifleman Rolfe died at the age of 25 on 10 September 1916. However, investigations show that Stanley Rolfe was popular and well known in Wigtown from the time he spent working at the local branch of the Clydesdale Bank in the town (now 29 South Main Street, next to the Post Office). During that time he lived with his aunt, Mrs Anderson, of Broadfield farm, before moving back to London prior to enlisting in August 1914. He landed at Le Havre with his regiment in November that year.
News of Rifleman Rolfe’s death was reported in the Galloway Gazette on 11 November 1916:
Official intimation has been received that Private Stanley Rolfe, Queen’s Westminster Rifles, was killed in action on 10th September last. The first report received was to the effect that he was missing, but subsequently his body was found and was identified by means of his pay-book. Private Rolfe, who was a nephew of Mrs Anderson, late of Broadfield, was trained in the Clydesdale Bank, Wigtown, and previous to enlisting he was on the staff of a London Bank. Shortly after the outbreak of war, he joined the Queen’s Westminster Rifles, and was nearly two years in France. He was well known in Wigtown and neighbourhood, where his kindly disposition and pleasing manner made him a general favourite.
Despite that report it appears that Stanley Rolfe’s body was buried in an unmarked grave, or its location was lost, as he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. It bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.

Private James Milroy

Private James Milroy
1st Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers
Died 14 July 1916
James Milroy was born on 14th May 1895 at Station Cottage, Wigtown, the son of James Milroy, the Stationmaster, and Annie Milroy, nee Gordon. By 1901 James Milroy Snr had left the railway and was running a grocer’s shop in Kirkinner. James junior also helped in the family shop but later became a postman in Newton Stewart. On 10 December 1915 James enlisted at Wigtown with the 1st Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers.
After a period of training Private 20804 James Milroy went to France, arriving there on 16/5/1916. In the first two weeks of July that year the 1st Battalion was in action in the Battle of Albert, the first two weeks of the allied offensive on the Somme. The second phase of the Battle of the Somme was at Bazentin Ridge where, on 14 July, the allied infantry was, initially, successful. However it was there that James was killed in action. His body was not found and he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, which bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.
James is also commemorated on Kirkinner War Memorial. His outstanding pay was shared between his father, who received £3 9s 6d, and his brother, Hugh, who received 9s 11d. After the war a gratuity of £3 was paid to his father who, by then, was living in Canada.

Lance-Corporal James McCulloch

Photo of James McCulloch
Lance-Corporal James McCulloch
1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders
Died 13 November 1916
Before the start of the Great War James McCulloch, the third son of John McCulloch of Cairnpat, Lochans, worked for the Nicholsons of Kidsdale Farm near Whithorn. After the outbreak of war it was not long before James, on 7 January 1915, enlisted at Ayr with the 1st Battalion, the Gordon Highlanders, leaving behind a wife and young daughter (both named Annie). James’ wife, Annie Malone, was to lose two brothers in the conflict (Blain and David).
Private McCulloch arrived in France on 18 January 1915 and was quickly into action and wounded. Indeed in August the Galloway Gazette reported that he had been wounded three times. In September 1915 the 1st Battalion was involved in the Battle of Loos and suffered terrible casualties. It is possible that, as a consequence of the wounds he suffered in August, that Private McCulloch was spared the horrors of Loos.  However in December 1916 the Galloway Gazette reported that he had been wounded four times on 13th November 1916. As may be expected in time of war there was considerable confusion over casualties. Although the above report implies that, though wounded, the whereabouts of Private McCulloch were known, this does not seem to be the case. On 10 March 1917 the Gazette reported:
Considerable anxiety is felt as to the fate of Private Jas McCulloch, Gordon Highlanders, who has been missing for four months. He had been at the front for two years, and has come through some of the fiercest fighting. Any information as to Private McCulloch will be thankfully received by Mrs McCulloch, High Vennel, Wigtown.
On 29 December 1917 that the Gazette confirmed Pte McCulloch’s death, at the age of 34. His body was not found and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. It bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.

The Galloway Gazette (13 November 1920) carried the following:
“In loving memory of my dear Daddy, Lance-Corporal James McCulloch, who was killed in action at the Battle of the Somme on 13th November 1916.
Far from his home he lies at rest,
And strangers tend his grave;
But still in hearts that loved him best
Is dear the life he gave.
Inserted by his wee daughter, Annie, 21 Harbour Road, Wigtown.”

Private Ernest McClelland

Photo of Ernest McClelland
Private Ernest McClelland
1st Battalion, Cameron Highlanders
Died 24 November 1916
Private S/17892 Ernest McClelland was from farming stock, the son of Andrew and Mary McClelland and one of four brothers who enlisted. Whilst still quite young, and with his brothers having emigrated, he had managed his father’s two farms (Carslae and Glenturk) during his father’s illness. He played football for Wigtown United and attended the Ewart High School where his name can still be seen on the school’s memorial plaque. Shortly after the outbreak of war he joined the Scottish Horse before transferring to the 1st Battalion, Cameron Highlanders in April 1915.
In October 1915 the Galloway Gazette reported that Ernest had been wounded:

Mr & Mrs McClelland, Dunmore, Wigtown, have received a letter from their son, Private Ernest McClelland, 1st Cameron Highlanders, in which he states that he was wounded in action in France on 26th September, and is now in hospital suffering from a shot wound in the foot and slight shrapnel wounds in the legs and neck. Shortly after the outbreak of war he joined the Scottish Horse, and transferred to the 1st Cameron Highlanders in April last.
He recovered from his wounds and returned to duty but in November 1916 news was received that he had been seriously wounded and was being treated at a Casualty Clearing Station. This time there was to be no recovery and on 24 November Ernest McClelland died of wounds received. He was 25 years of age. On 2 December 1916 the Galloway Gazette reported:

There was much regret in Wigtown and neighbourhood when the news was received on Wednesday that Private Ernest McClelland, Cameron Highlanders, son of Mr Andrew McClelland, late of Glenturk, had died on 24 November, at a Casualty Clearing Station in France, of wounds received in action some five days previously, and much sympathy was expressed for Mr & Mrs McClelland and family. It is not too much to say that Ernest McClelland (who was just 25) was one of the flower of the young men of the Machars. Bright, modest and manly he was a favourite of everybody, and his fine winsome figure will be much missed in the district. Some years ago, when a mere lad, his management of the farms at Glenturk and Carslae, during his father’s long illness evoked great admiration and was much talked about. Ernest and three brothers (two from South Africa and one from Australia), all joined the colours early in the war before compulsion was talked about. He was wounded in France in September 1915, and after recovering went back to the front. His three brothers are at present on active service, one in France, another in the Balkans, and a third in Egypt.
He is buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension. The McClelland family headstone in Wigtown’s High Cemetery includes a memorial inscription to him.

Private Alexander McClelland

Private Alexander McClelland
Post Office Rifles
Died 14 October 1916
Alexander McClelland was born on 5 August 1882 at Bladnoch, the son of Alexander McClelland, a general labourer, and his wife, Jane (nee McGinn). Soon after Alexander’s birth the family moved to Whithorn where they stayed until the outbreak of war. The 1901 Census shows young Alexander living with his parents at 8 George Street and working as a rural postman. Ten years later he was still living with his parents and still working as a postman, though they were then living at 49 St John Street.
Shortly after the outbreak of war Alexander enlisted in the army with the Post Office Rifles, a volunteer unit formed in the 1860s and composed mostly of Post Office employees. By 1914 the unit provided most of the riflemen for the 1/8th battalion of the City of London Regiment. Alexander arrived at the Western Front in March 1916. However, the Battalion did not see action at The Somme until October 1916 but still sustained 40 dead, 160 wounded and 200 missing. Alexander McClelland was to be one of those wounded in the action and was evacuated back to Britain where he was treated at Perth Hospital. Sadly he died on 14 October from septicaemia and gunshot wounds as a result of the wounds he had received.
His body was returned to Whithorn and he was laid to rest in Whithorn Cemetery. He was 32 years of age. His name appears on Whithorn War Memorial.

Private James Love


Private James Love (or Thomson)
2nd Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers
Died 30 July 1916
James Love is named on Wigtown War Memorial but it is only after extensive research that his background has been discovered.  It appears that he was born as James Thomson Love in 1890 at Mochrum, the son of Agnes Love. In 1892 there was a legal judgement which named James Thompson (sic) of Loch Head, Mochrum, as James’ father. Young James lived at Elrig with his three half-siblings before moving to High Milton Cothouse at Mochrum where the family was living in 1901.
Private 20961 James Thomson Love enlisted with the Royal Scots Fusiliers at Elrig under the name of Thomson and served with the 2nd Battalion. On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The Battle of the Somme finally ended on 18 November with the onset of winter. It is here that Private Thomson fell in action on 30 July. His body was never found and his sacrifice is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. It bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.
Agnes Love was paid James’ outstanding pay of £2 6s 5d on 9 October 1917 and received a further £3 War Gratuity in 1919. As yet James’ link to Wigtown has not been established.

Private Alexander Laurie

Photo of Alexander Laurie
Private Alexander Laurie
31st Battalion, Canadian Infantry
Died 6 June 1916
Private 446910 Alexander Laurie served with the 31st Battalion, Canadian Infantry. He was born on 9th October 1891 at East Drummodie, Glasserton, the son of Alexander Laurie, a farmer, and Margaret Laurie, nee McWilliam.  At the time of his death his mother lived at 13 South Main Street, Wigtown. Alexander emigrated to Canada some time before the war. He enlisted on 14 May 1915 at the age of 22 years 7 months. His battalion sailed for France on the RMS Carpathia on 17 May. By October they were on the front line at Ypres but did not suffer significant casualties until April 1916 but thereafter suffered great losses.  

Alexander Laurie fell in action on 6th June 1916, possibly at the Battle of Mount Sorrel where the Canadians were heavily involved. One of his comrades wrote to Mrs Laurie:
On behalf of the boys in my platoon, I would like to extend to you our sincere sympathy on the death of Alex. We joined this battalion at the same time, and since that have been the greatest of friends, and I, in particular, feel his loss keenly. Alex was one of the most popular boys in the Company, and one in whom his superiors placed more than usual confidence. He was killed during an exceptionally heavy bombardment, by shrapnel and concussion from a high explosive shell, and, for his sake, I am glad to say that death was instantaneous. Owing to the number of casualties, I am unable to give you any information as to where he was buried, but you will be advised of this later, at which time you should receive his personal effects, as they have been turned over to our Paymaster. If I can be of any service to you, please do not hesitate to ask for any further information that may be in my power to give.
Alexander Laurie’s body was not fund and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres which bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known.

Private John Harvey

Private John Harvey
15th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry
Died 3 July 1916, Battle of the Somme.
John Harvey was born at Sorbie, the son of James and Margaret Harvey. By 1891 the Harveys were living in Wigtown where they stayed at 9 South Back Street with James working as a shoemaker. After he left school John got work as a tinsmith and the family continued to live at Wigtown: in 1911 they were living at 21 Harbour Rd. 

John Harvey enlisted in Glasgow and may have worked for the tramways company along with fellow Wigtown man Leslie Kennedy. He joined the 15th (Service) Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry. The battalion was raised in Glasgow in September 1914 by Glasgow Corporation employee Mr. Jimmy Dalrymple, the manager of the Tramways Department. Prior to finishing his shift one afternoon he phoned around all the Tramcar Depots and asked ‘see if any of the men would be interested in joining a battalion made up entirely of men from the ‘Caurs’. On returning to his office the next morning, some sixteen hours later, there was a list on his desk with the names of 1100 volunteers wanting to enlist. It is reckoned that the 15th were the fastest recruited Battalion in the history of the British Army.
The 15th Battalion were ‘blooded’ at the Somme in 1916 and it was on the third day of the battle that John Harvey died on 3 July 1916. His body was not found. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, which bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. John’s outstanding pay – £9 9s – was paid to his brother, Patrick as, by then, his father had died. A further payment of £8 War Gratuity was paid to Patrick in 1919.

Private Leslie Kennedy

Photo of Leslie Kennedy's grave stone
Private Leslie Kennedy
15th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry
Died 9 July 1916
Leslie Kennedy was born on 14 September 1892 at High Street, Wigtown, the eldest son Alexander Kennedy, an agricultural labourer, and his wife, Martha Kennedy, nee White. He enlisted in the army at Glasgow and may have worked for the tramways company along with fellow Wigtown man John Harvey. He joined the 15th (Service) Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry. The battalion was raised in Glasgow in September 1914 by Glasgow Corporation employee Mr. Jimmy Dalrymple, the manager of the Tramways Department. Prior to finishing his shift one afternoon he phoned around all the Tramcar Depots and asked ‘see if any of the men would be interested in joining a battalion made up entirely of men from the ‘Caurs’. On returning to his office the next morning, some sixteen hours later, there was a list on his desk with the names of 1100 volunteers wanting to enlist. It is reckoned that the 15th were the fastest recruited Battalion in the history of the British Army. The 15th Battalion was ‘blooded’ at the Somme in 1916 and it was in that action that Leslie Kennedy was killed. His body was not found and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, which bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave
The family gravestone in Wigtown’s High Cemetery also contains a memorial inscription. In July 1918 the Galloway Gazette carried the following message from Leslie Kennedy’s family: 
In loving memory of our dear son, Leslie Kennedy, who was killed in action on the 9th July 1916, aged 23 years.
We do not know what pain he bore,
We did not see him die,
We only know he passed away
And could not say good-bye.
He never shunned his country’s call,
But gladly gave his life for all;
He died the helpless to defend –
A British soldier’s noble end.