Corporal Robert Murray
2nd Battalion, The Black Watch
Died 21 January 1916
Corporal 1921 Robert Murray was born at Greenock on 5 January 1883. We know he was living at Kirkcowan in 1891 where his father, Alexander, worked as a woollen dyer. He was probably a regular soldier before the war began as he was sent to the war zone at an early date in the conflict, 12 October 1914. He was a member of the 2nd Battalion, The Black Watch, having enlisted at Newton Stewart. We know little of his military career or his life in Wigtown save that he had an aunt and uncle who lived at Torhousekie, just outside Wigtown. He is named on Wigtown War Memorial.
At the start of the war the 2nd battalion was in India but, by September, had moved to France. It was engaged in trench warfare and suffered heavy casualties in 1915 and, in December of that year, was moved to Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), arriving on 5th January 1916 and was into action within two days. On 21 January the 2nd battalion was part of a 10,000 British force attempting to relieve fellow troops under siege at Kut-al-Amara. Facing them was a Turkish army of 30,000 at the Hanna Defile. After a weak bombardment the British troops advanced through 600 yards of water in No Man’s Land. They were mown down by Turkish machine guns and 60% of the British force was killed or injured. It was in this action that Robert Murray was reported missing and was never seen again. It was not until two years later that he was officially confirmed as dead.
Robert Murray is commemorated on the Basra Memorial which commemorates more than 40,500 members of the Commonwealth forces who died in the operations in Mesopotamia from the Autumn of 1914 to the end of August 1921 and whose graves are not known. The ninth Wigtown man to die, Corporal Murray is probably the furthest from home of any of those commemorated on Wigtown War Memorial. His Uncle Matthew was paid the outstanding amount of Roberts pay of £25 19s 3d in December 1918. A further War Gratuity of £9 was paid the following year.