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Alexander Esslemont

Updated: Sep 25, 2022


288042 Private

1/6th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders, 152 Infantry Brigade,

51st (Highland) Division

Age: 22

Date of Death: 10.7.17

Buried: Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery I.F.17

Family history: Son of Mrs Mary Esslemont, 1 Low Town, Larbert and of the late James Esslemont. He was employed as a gratefitter with Dobbie, Forbes & Company, Larbert. He was also an active member of the Boys Brigade Company, he was a drummer in the pipe band, attached to Larbert (Old) Parish Church. His brother Thomas was serving with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders.

He was called up in September 1916 and joined the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and was later posted to the Gordon Highlanders from the base camp in France.

The action leading to his death

Throughout July 1917 the battalions of the 51st (Highland) Division were occupying the frontline trenches at Lancashire Farm with the reserve companies at the Canal Bank . The 1/6th Gordons battalion HQ was in Lancashire Farm. The area of the canal allotted to the division contained the high-level gauge railway causeway and the low-level causeway next to Bridge 4, both of which attracted the attention of heavy shelling from the Germans. Bridge 4 had to be abandoned to road traffic and the low level causeway was used. Both banks of the canal were subjected to heavy shelling, including gas shells, throughout July.

(Linesman map showing Bridge 4 in bottom left. Lancashire Farm and frontline trenches also shown)

On the evening of the 9/10 July the Germans attempted a raid on the British positions to the left of the battalion and the Germans had put down a heavy barrage on the battalions lines and the support areas. The raid was unsuccessful.

(Battalion War Diary entry)

In the notification of his death in the Falkirk Herald a letter from the chaplain to the Gordon Highlanders, Reverend Henry Coulter, to his mother is quoted he wrote: ‘Your son Alexander and a comrade were sitting at the entrance to a dug-out, having tea together, when he was struck by a piece of shell and killed instantaneously. His comrade was also killed.’ Alexander died three days before his 23 birthday.

Medals Awarded

British War Medal, Victory Medal

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