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Gunner William Irvine

Gunner William Irvine
Royal Field Artillery
Died 3rd September 1917
An examination of birth and census records does little to indicate any Wigtown background for William Irvine yet his name appears on the town’s War Memorial. He was born on 9 January 1879 at Chapelheron, Whithorn, the son of farm servant William Irvine and his wife, Jane Martin. The Irvines continued to live at Chapelheron Cot House through the 1880s and 90s until William jr left home to work as a farm shepherd at Shaddock Farm House, Whithorn (1901 census). We lose track of him then until he enlisted in the army.
Military records indicate that William enlisted at Wigtown where he had his home. By that time he would have been relatively old, in his mid-thirties. He joined the Royal Field Artillery as a Gunner. The Royal Field Artillery provided artillery support for the British Army. It came into being when the Royal Artillery was divided on 1 July 1899, it was re-amalgamated back into the Royal Artillery in 1924. It was the largest arm of the artillery and was responsible for the medium calibre guns and howitzers deployed close to the front line and was reasonably mobile. It was organised into brigades, attached to divisions or higher formations. Gunner 125978 William Irvine served with D Battery of the 64th Brigade. During the First World War a whole new form of artillery was developed to meet the unusual conditions of war on the Western Front: the trench mortar. The lighter weapons being manned by the infantry, the Royal Field Artillery provided the manpower for the heavier mortars.
On 3rd September 1917 William Irvine, aged 39, died of wounds received in action. He is buried at Brandhoek New Military Cemetery No 3 in Belgium, not far from Ypres. During the First World War, Brandhoek was within the area comparatively safe from shell fire which extended beyond Vlamertinghe Church. Field ambulances were posted there continuously. Until July 1917 burials had been made in the Military Cemetery, but the arrival of the 32nd, 3rd Australian and 44th Casualty Clearing Stations, in preparation for the new Allied offensive launched that month, made it necessary to open the New Military Cemetery. The New Military Cemetery No 3 opened in August and continued in use until May 1918. Brandhoek New Military Cemetery No 3 contains 975 First World War burials.

Private William Jamieson

Private William Jamieson
4th Battalion, Cameron Highlanders
Died 9 June 1917

It is not clear why William Jamieson is named on Wigtown War Memorial as his association with the town is unclear. Perhaps he worked here. He was born on 3 February 1893 at Port William, the only son of James Jamieson, a mason, and his wife, Janet Parker. He served with the 4th Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) as a motor driver. It is not clear precisely when Private Jamieson signed up but the 4th Battalion was in Hamilton in August 1914 when war broke out. The Battalion became a training unit and remained in Britain throughout the war. In August 1914 it moved to Gourock and then in April 1916 to Greenock. During the First World War, the Clyde was the most important British centre of production of warships: 43 per cent of the tonnage of ships ordered by the Admiralty between 1914 and 1919 was built in the Clyde yards so there was clearly a need for a strong defense force. In 1917 the battalion took over coastal defence work at Haddington and in June 1918 moved to Edinburgh for duty with the Forth Garrison.

William Jamieson was taken ill and admitted to Greenock Infirmary some time in 1917. His life could not be saved and he died on 9 June 1917; his death certificate records that he died of Tuberculosis, meningitis and endocarditis.

The Galloway Gazette (16 June 1917) carried a brief report:

JAMIESON – On the 9th inst suddenly at Greenock Infirmary, Private William Jamieson, Scottish Rifles, only son of James and Janet Jamieson, Mid Barsalloch, Port William aged 24 years. Sadly missed.

William Jamieson is buried at Greenock Cemetery and he is named on both Wigtown and Port William War Memorials.

Private Robert Hughes

Photo of Private Robert Hughes

Private Robert Hughes
1st/6th Battalion, Black Watch
Died 2 July 1917

Private 285030 Robert Hughes was born on 21 April 1898 at Railway Crossing Cottage, Sorbie, the son of railway surfaceman, Peter Hughes, and his wife, Margaret Higgins.
Before the war Robert was employed at Carsegowan Farm just outside Wigtown by the Lindsay family . He enlisted in Ayr in October 1916, joining the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. After a period of training at Ripon, North Yorkshire, he transferred to the 1st/6th Battalion, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) and was sent to the Front.

On 2 July 1917, only 9 months after enlisting, Private Hughes was dead, aged only 19.

The Galloway Gazette (21 July 1917) carried the news of his death:

Mr & Mrs Peter Hughes, Barsalloch, Newton Stewart, have received notice from the War Office that their son Pte. Robert Hughes, Black Watch, was killed in action on July 2nd. Pte. Hughes joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in October 1916, and after receiving training at Ripon he was transferred to the Black Watch and sent to the front. Previous to joining the army he was employed by Messrs Lindsay, Carsegowan, and he was popular and well liked by those who knew him. He was nineteen years and ten months old.

Robert Hughes is buried at Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery, near Ypres in Belgium. The cemetery contains 1,813 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. He is also named on Newton Stewart memorial.

On 5 July 1919 the Galloway Gazette carried this memorial to him from his family:

Do not ask us if we miss him,
Oh, tis such a vacant place,
Oft we think we hear his footsteps,
Or we see his smiling face.
Your guardian angel’s work is done,
Farewell our brave and noble son.
Your young life gone ere yet begun
Alas! You’re one who won’t return.

Private James Fleming

Photo of Private James Fleming
Private James Fleming
5th Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers
Died 22 January 1917
James Fleming’s name does not appear on Wigtown’s War Memorial nor on the records of war dead of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. He does not appear on the latter because his premature death at the age of 19 from tuberculosis cannot be directly linked to his military service. Why he is not recorded on Wigtown’s memorial is not known.
He was born John Ross, the illegitimate son of domestic servant Janet Margaret Ross on 4 March 1897 at 16 Agnew Crescent, Wigtown. He went on to play football for Wigtown Utd and the photograph here shows him as part of the Galloway Shield winning team from the 1913-14 season.
He is one of the few soldiers whose military papers still exist. They show him enlisting of 14 December 1914 as a Private in the 5th Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers (a reserve Battalion). He named his next of kin as his grandmother, Jane Fleming, of Kilquhirn, Wigtown. He then transferred to the Army Service Corps but was discharged in October 1915 following a spell in Taunton Hospital, suffering from tuberculosis. He was issued with an armband to wear in public to show that he had been discharged from service due to being unfit to serve.
After discharge he gained employment as a chauffeur but that was not to last long as he died on 22 January 1917 at 22 High Street: the cause of death was registered as tubercular disease of the larynx and lungs. The death was reported by his uncle, W Ross, of 11 High Street. James was only 19.
Photo of Wigtown Football Club with Private James Fleming

Gunner Adam Horner

Gravestone of Gunner Adam Horner
Gunner Adam Horner
Royal Garrison Artillery
Died 1st August 1917

Around a half of all First World War army records were destroyed as a result of bombing and consequent fire in the Second World War but Adam Horner’s survived. We know that he signed up for the army on 10 December 1915, opting to join the Royal Garrison Artillery. At that time he was a 35 year old gamekeeper living at Glenturk, just outside Wigtown and having married Margaret McDowall six months earlier. On 6 June 1916 Gunner 95460 Horner was mobilised and was posted to the Heavy Artillery depot at Woolwich in London the following month. After a period of training he was posted to the 119th Heavy Battery in France on 28th December 1916. He saw action over the following months but on 1st August 1917 he was killed in action. His death was briefly reported in the Galloway Gazette (23 August):

Information has been received that Gunner Adam Horner, RGA, second son of Mr & Mrs Horner, Mossend, Wigtown, and husband of Mrs Horner, High Vennel, Wigtown, was killed in action on 1st inst. He was 37 years of age, and was a gamekeeper previous to enlisting.

Four months after his death, on 11 December 1917, the RGA Records Office in Dover wrote to Adam’s widow, Margaret, returning the following personal articles: Letters, photo, pouch, 3 pipes, purse, watch and strap, glove, penknife, matchbox cover, spoon, Religious book and numeral. The writer added, “Gnr Horner had in his possession the sum of 10 francs and 40 centimes which has been credited to his account.” Mrs Horner would later receive a pension of 13 shillings and 9 pence and (in 1922) the two campaign medals awarded to her husband (British War and Victory).

Adam Horner is buried at Duhallow Advanced Dressing Station, a medical post 1.6 kilometres north of Ypres. He is also remembered on the family gravestone in Wigtown’s High Cemetery. On the anniversary of his death his wife inserted this tribute to him (Galloway Gazette 3 August 1918): HORNER. In loving memory of my dear husband, Gunner Adam Horner, RGA, who was killed in action in France on 1st August 1917. Interred at Dunhallow ADS Cemetery, North of Ypres.

I pictured his safe returning
And I longed to clasp his hand
But death has postponed our meeting
It will be in a better land

Inserted by his widow, 4 High Vennel, Wigtown

Private Robert Griffin

Private Robert Griffin
7th Battalion, The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Died 31 July 1917
Private S/5953 Robert Alexander Griffin was born in 1889 at Sorbie, the son of railway porter, John Griffin, and his wife, Maggie Adair.  The family soon moved away from Sorbie: in 1891 they were living at 2 Greenvale Street, Stranraer. The 1901 census shows the family living at Stell Cottage, Penninghame, where John Griffin worked as a farm engine man.
Robert enlisted at Newton Stewart, leaving his job at Barglass where he worked for Mr John Christison. He served with the 7th Battalion, Black Watch. At the time of his death, John’s parents were living in Bladnoch. Two years earlier, on 16 May 1915, they had lost their son George, serving with the Scots Guards, killed at the Battle of Festubert. In May 1917 they lost a second son, John: Robert was the third of their children to die serving his country. A fourth son also served but survived the conflict.
Robert is buried at New Irish Farm Cemetery just outside Ypres. The Cemetery was first used from August to November 1917 and was named after a nearby farm, known to the troops as ‘Irish Farm’. It was used again in April and May 1918 and at the Armistice it contained just 73 burials but was then greatly enlarged when more than 4,500 graves were brought in from the battlefields north-east of Ypres. It is likely that Robert’s body was relocated from one of these other cemeteries after the end of the war. He is named on Kirkinner War Memorial.

Private John Griffin

Private John Griffin
20th Battalion, The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)
Died 22 May 1917
Private 4614 John Griffin was born at 5 High Street, Wigtown on 27th September 1895, the son of general labourer, John Griffin, and his wife, Maggie Adair.  The family soon moved away from Wigtown: in 1901 they were living at Stell Cottage, Penninghame where John Snr was working as a farm engineman.
By the start of the war John Jr was working at High Glasnick farm near Kirkcowan and he enlisted in the army at Newton Stewart. He probably enlisted with one of the local regiments but, at the time of his death Private 4614 John Griffin was serving with 20th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. His body was not found and he is named on the Arras War Memorial which commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918, the eve of the Advance to Victory, and have no known grave. He is also named on the Penninghame and Kirkcowan War Memorials.
At the time of his death, John’s parents were back in Bladnoch. Two years earlier, on 16 May 1915, they had lost their son George, serving with the Scots Guards, killed at the Battle of Festubert. Two months later, on 31 July, they would lose a third son, Robert, serving with the Black Watch.

Private Robert Boyd

Photo of Private Robert Boyd
Private Robert Boyd
2nd Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers
Died 7 April 1917
Robert Boyd was born on 1 February 1880 at Bank Street, Wigtown, the son of general labourer, Robert Boyd, and his wife, Helen McKay. The 1881 census returns show the family living at Church Lane. Ten years later they were living at Baldoon Cottage. In 1901, at the age of 20, Robert was working as a ploughman at Broadfield Farm on the outskirts of Wigtown but he later got a job at the Co-operative Creamery at Bladnoch and returned to lodge with his parents at Baldoon. He also married Annie Nicholson.
At the outbreak of war Robert was living at Whauphill but enlisted with the Royal Scots Fusiliers at Ayr. He was killed in action on 7 April 1917 at the age of 38.
The Galloway Gazette (15 September 1917), five months after Robert Boyd’s death, carried a brief report:
On 7 April 1917, killed in action, Private Robert Boyd RSF, beloved husband of Annie Nicholson, 2 North Main Street, Wigtown, aged 38 years.
Annie received Robert’s outstanding pay of £4 11s 6d 6 months after his death and a further £10 gratuity in 1919.
Robert Boyd’s body was not found and he is commemorated on the Arras Memorial which commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918, the eve of the Advance to Victory, and have no known grave. His brothers James and David also served in the war and survived the conflict though David’s gravestone in Wigtown High Cemetery indicates his early death at the age of 49 was as a result of disability arising from the conflict.

Private Alexander Broadfoot

Photo of Private Alexander Broadfoot
Private Alexander Broadfoot
72nd Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Seaforth Highlanders)
Died 8 November 1917
Private 130245 Alexander Broadfoot was born on 11 April 1889 at Horwich, the son of Alexander and Margaret Broadfoot. After moving to Galloway he worked in William Cook’s grocers shop in Port William. In 1913 Alexander emigrated to Canada, sailing from Glasgow to Halifax, Nova Scotia. He enlisted on 14 February 1916 at Vancouver. His enlistment documents signed in Vancouver, identify him as living at the Lotus Hotel, Vancouver; he nominated his next of kin as his sister, Hettie who lived in Eastbourne. His trade was Grocer. His medical assessment states that he was 5 feet 9-and-a-half tall with fair hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion. His religion was Presbyterian (before emigrating he had been a member of the congregation at Wigtown’s parish church). In August 1916 the Seaforths were in France and in April 1917 Alexander and the Canadians were involved in the Battle of Vimy Ridge enjoying rapid success despite the battle being fought out in a snowstorm. Within days a spectacular victory had been achieved and, during it, Alexander Broadfoot was awarded the Military Medal for his work as a messenger. Apart from Vimy Ridge the Seaforths were involved in some of the bloodiest battles of the war including Ypres and the Somme.
On 1 December 1917 the Galloway Gazette reported:
Mrs Turner, Clarksburn, Monreith village, Port William, has received official intimation that her nephew, Private Alexander Broadfoot MM, Seaforth Canadian Highlanders, died of wounds on November 8th. Private Broadfoot was twice mentioned in despatches and at Vimy Ridge he was successful in winning the Military Medal for bravery in the field. Private Broadfoot served five years as a grocer with Wm Cook, Port William and is the second employee to receive the Military Medal. In 1913 Private Broadfoot went to Canada and joined the colours shortly after war broke out. His last leave was in August [the Gazette had reported on 11 August that Alexander was home on leave at his old home, Mrs Turner’s at Clarksburn. It further mentions the award of the MM at the Battle of Vimy Ridge for “some daring work as a runner”.] Most sympathy is felt for his bereaved friends at home and his brother who is on active service at the front. His sister has received the following letter from a chaplain to the forces.
It is with sorrow I write to inform you of the death of your brother. He was brought along with many other Canadians to hospital some days ago. I have seen him each day and have tried to keep him cheerful. It was not difficult because he was a brave soul. Each time I came away from his bed I felt more and more glad because he was so certain of the presence of God with him. Yesterday he was exceedingly cheerful, and I had no doubt of his recovery. But he must have had some internal injury, and this morning I stood by his bed and held his hand as he passed into the larger, brighter Blighty, the true Home. God give you all needful grace and strength and comfort.
Alexander Broadfoot is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. He is also commemorated on Glasserton War Memorial.

Private Edward Clark

Photo of Private Edward Clark
Private Edward Clark
1/5th Bn King’s Own Scottish Borderers
Died 17th November 1917
Edward Clark was born at 19 Low Vennel, Wigtown, on 7 March 1895. He was the son of butcher’s assistant Thomas Clark and domestic servant Elizabeth Finningham. Edward and his family moved to Botany Street where they spent the years leading up to the War. He enlisted with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers in November 1914 and was drafted to the 1/5th Battalion in January 1916 when they were in Egypt.
The Battalion had seen service at Gallipoli in 1915 before moving to Egypt initially to protect the Suez Canal from attack by the Turks. The Suez Canal provided a vital line of supply for Britain as it brought troops from India, Australia and New Zealand to the Western Front. The 1/5th were moved here discourage Turkish attempts to cut that supply line. They faced regular skirmishes from Turkish raids across the desert and in August 1916 they were called to more concerted action, successfully, in the Battle of Romani. Edward and his comrades would have had the opportunity to see the Pyramids as well as managing the camels which supplied the troops with drinking water.
Allied commanders then decided that the best way to defend the Canal would be to advance further East and North to create a deeper buffer zone. That meant trying to capture Gaza. The initial attempt was unsuccessful so the Allies reinforced their forces and tried again. The 1/5th were heavily involved in more action later in the year including a ferocious battle at Mughar in mid-November. It may have been here that Edward Clarke of the 1/5th was serious wounded. He was evacuated to hospital at Kantara in Egypt  where he died.
In the early part of the First World War, Kantara was an important point in the defence of Suez against Turkish attacks and marked the starting point of the new railway east towards Sinai and Palestine, begun in January 1916. Kantara developed into a major base and hospital centre and the cemetery was begun in February 1916 for burials from the various hospitals, continuing in use until late 1920. After the Armistice, the cemetery was more than doubled in size when graves were brought in from other cemeteries and desert battlefields, notably those at Rumani, Qatia, El Arish and Rafa. Edward Clark is buried at Kantara War Memorial Cemetery which contains 1,562 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 110 from the Second World War.