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Gunner John Coburn

Gunner John Coburn

Gunner John Coburn
4th Bn Gordon Highlanders
Died 24th September 1917
John Coburn (or Cockburn as some records name him), was born at 4 Low Vennel, Wigtown on 16th April 1898, the illegitimate son of domestic servant Margaret Coburn. However, John seems to have spent his childhood living with his father as his mother disappears from records until his death in 1917. In 1901 the 3 year-old John was living with his father, James, a general labourer and grandfather, also James, a hawker of hardware goods at 9 Low Vennel. Ten years later the family still resided at number 9.
The Wigtown Burgh Roll of Honour indicates John Coburn serving with 3rd Battalion Kings Own Scottish Borderers but military records show him enlisting at Ayr with the 6th Bn Gordon Highlanders. At some time Pte Coburn transferred to the 1st/4th Bn of the Gordons. Whichever unit he served with he would have seen a good deal of action in France and Flanders. A photograph held by the Imperial War Museum shows a unit from the regiment engaged in road repairs in 1916.
In late August 1917 John Coburn was severely wounded and died the following month. The Galloway Gazette (6/10/1917) reported: Mrs Myles, Arthur Street, Newton Stewart has received notice from the sister in charge of a hospital that her son Pte J Coburn, Gordon Highlanders, died on 24 September of wounds received in action on the 27th. He was shot in the abdomen and thigh and is buried in a military cemetery near the hospital.
John Coburn is buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery in Flanders. In July 1917, in readiness for the forthcoming offensive, groups of casualty clearing stations were placed at three positions called by the troops Mendinghem, Dozinghem and Bandaghem. The 4th, 47th and 61st Casualty Clearing Stations were posted at Dozinghem and the military cemetery was used by them until early in 1918. There are 3,174 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in the cemetery and 65 German war graves from this period.
Photo of World War 1 soldiers

Private Andrew Briggs

Private Andrew Briggs
6th Battalion, Cameron Highlanders
Died 11 April 1917
Private S/40523 Andrew Briggs was the son of farmer Andrew Briggs and his wife Jeannie Skilling. He was born on 2 September 1895 at West Kirkland. In 1901 the family were living at Glenturk Moorhead and in 1911 at Bladnoch. Before the war Andrew moved to Sheffield where he lived with his uncle John and his wife Sarah. He enlisted on 4 January 1916, initially with the Scottish Horse. Shortly after that he  joined the Lovat Scouts before ending up in the 6th battalion, Cameron Highlanders. The Lovat Scouts were a British Army unit first formed during the Boer War as a Scottish Highland yeomanry regiment and is the first known military unit to wear a ghillie suit. In 1916, these scouts formally became the British Army’s first sniper unit, then known as sharpshooters.
After 9 months of active service Private Briggs was killed in action on 11 April 1917, probably in the Battle of the Scarpe 9 – 14 April. This was the first phase of the Battle of Arras and was initially a success for the British forces. Andrew Briggs was reported missing in action in the Galloway Gazette on 19 May:
Mr & Mrs Briggs, Bladnoch, have received official information that their son, Private Andrew Briggs, who joined the Lovat scouts and was transferred to the Cameron
Highlanders, has been posted as missing since April 11. He enlisted on 4th January 1916 and has been 9 months in active service. He is 21 years of age.
It wasn’t until July of that year that Mr & Mrs Briggs received confirmation of his death, at the age of 21. Andrew Briggs 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.

Private George Brown Anderson

Private George Brown Anderson
2nd Battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
Died 20 June 1917
George Brown Anderson was born on 15 December 1897 at 21 Harbour Rd, Wigtown, the son of Andrew Anderson, a sewing machine agent, and his wife, Agnes Brown. The family soon left Wigtown and were living in Lockerbie at the time of the 1901 census. The return shows George living at 6 Brewery Yard with his parents, brother and no fewer than seven sisters.
Shortly after the outbreak of war, George enlisted with the 2/5th Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers. At the time of his enlistment he was working as a farm servant at Collin, near Dumfries. It wasn’t until the end of August 1916 that Private 2234 George Anderson and his Battalion went to France. At some point he was re-assigned to the Cameronians and served with their 2nd Battalion.
George Anderson was killed in action on 20th June 1917 near to Ypres. He was only 19 years old and is interred in the Perth Cemetery (China Wall). The cemetery was begun by French troops in November 1914 (the French graves were removed after the Armistice) and adopted by George’s Battalion in June 1917, so he may have been among the first burials there. It was called Perth (as the predecessors of the 2nd Scottish Rifles were raised in Perth), China Wall (from the communication trench known as the Great Wall of China), or Halfway House Cemetery. The cemetery was used for front line burials until October 1917 when it occupied about half of the present Plot I and contained 130 graves.
His outstanding pay of £15 8s 11d was paid to his mother on 14/11/1917 and a War Gratuity of £12 on 29/11/1919.