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Alexander Gourlay Abbot

Updated: Feb 22

S/41219 L/Cpl

4th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, 154th Infantry Brigade, 51st (Highland) Division

Age: 18

Date of Death: Killed in Action 20.9.17

Buried: Tyne Cot Memorial, Panel 132 to 135

Family history: He resided at Blinkbonny Road, Camelon with his parents James and Jeanie. He had an older brother James and two younger sisters Grace and Jessie.

The action leading to his death

On the 20 September 1917, the 51st (Highland) Division were in the line opposite the German positions at Pheasant Trench, near Poelcappelle. The 154th Brigade, which was to lead the attack, had two objectives of the Blue dotted line, the line of the Stroombeek continued in a northwest direction to Delta Huts. The final objective, the Blue line, through Quebec Farm, Bavaroise House, Church Trench, Delta House (see the map below). The 58th Division were on their right with the 20th Division on the left. Twelve tanks were allotted to the Division, but only one was able to come into action effectively against the enemy. Facing the Division was the German 36th Division and their frontage mirrored that of the Highland Division.

The attack was launched at 5.40am. The first phase encountered strong resistance from Pheasant Trench. On the right ‘A’ and ‘B’ companies of the 9th Royal Scots were engaged with rifle and machine gun fire front the start. ‘A’ Company assisted by ‘C’ Company advanced from shell hole to shell hole and by this method took their objective. On the left, where ‘B’ Company followed by ‘D’ Company was engaged, Pheasant Trench was occupied in the centre of the company front almost immediately. However, the left two platoons of the company front reached the trench but were forced to withdraw as a result of heavy enemy fire. They were rallied and went forward with the company commander, battalion intelligence officer and artillery liaison officer and accompanied by some of the 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. They were also assisted by the platoon which had already gained a foot hold in Pheasant Trench who fought its way along the trench to its left.

Linesman Map
War diary Map of Pheasant Farm Sept 1917

The 4th Seaforth Highlanders on the left also encountered heavy resistance and engaged in hand-to-hand fighting in the area between Point 85 (see map) and the Lekkerboterbeek. It was here that the trench was very strongly defended with newly-constructed posts in front. Some as much as forty yards in front of the trench. Machine-guns were fired from the tops of the block houses and bombs and rifle fire came from the trench. The company detailed for the capture of the trench advanced from shell hole to shell hole in twos and threes and using rifle and Lewis gun fire to suppress the enemy fire. The left company of the Seaforths was engaged by three machine guns firing from Pheasant Trench and from a pill-box located west of the trench. These were taken with the Germans suffering thirty dead. After Pheasant Trench had been taken the advance continued. The 4th Seaforths taking the Blue dotted line and consolidating their positions. The 4th Seaforths being relieved by the 5th Seaforths during the night of the 21 September. Battalion casualties were Officers: 4 killed and 4 wounded. Other Ranks: Killed 41, Wounded 153, Missing 15.

Medals Awarded

Victory Medal, British War Medal

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