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Alexander Sneddon

S/6632 Private

11th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, 45th Infantry Brigade, 15th (Scottish) Division

Age: 22

Date of death: Killed in Action 31 July 1917

Buried: Menin Gate Memorial, Panels 42 and 44

Family history: He was the son of John Sneddon, of 26 Blackbraes, near Polmont. Before enlisting, at the age of 19 years on 23 November 1914, he was employed as a miner at East Roughrigg Colliery, Avonbridge.

Ill discipline can be costly

While on active service in France on the 25 March 1916, he was diagnosed with ‘Scabies’ and admitted to hospital on 2 April as ‘sick’ subsequently discharged from hospital. On 7 July 1916, he was awarded 21 days Field Punishment No.1 for having a dirty rifle and making an improper reply to an NCO. He appealed. At a Field General Court Martial on 13 July 1916, he was found guilty and given 60 days in prison with hard labour. On the 5 August 1916, this was commuted by the G.O.C. 15th Division to 60 days Field Punishment No.1. On 25 December 1916, while serving in the trenches he refused to go on patrol. He was held awaiting trial from 26 December 1916. He was tried by F.G.C.M. on 13 January 1917, and awarded 56 days F.P. No.1.

The action that lead to his death

On the 31 July 1917, the 15th (Scottish Division) was leading the attack on Frezenberg Ridge on the opening day of Third Ypres. the Division had three objectives namely the Black, Blue and Green Lines. The Division had achieved its first two objectives now the third phase of the battle was about to begin, the attack on the Green Line by the 45th Brigade. At about 9am the Brigade began its advance from the assemble positions between the Cambridge Road and the old British front line towards the Black Line. On the 11/Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders were in support behind the advancing Royal Scot Fusiliers.

As the 45th Brigade worked forward to continue the advance they noticed that the 8th Division, on their right, was still held up and this left the right of the 45th Brigade dangerously exposed. Two platoons of the Argyll’s were ordered to move south of the Ypres-Roulers railway to form a defensive line. At the request of the Argyll’s, tank C.1 moved towards some machine gun shelters along the railway, from where the enemy quickly retired. C.1 became ditched in a shell-hole but continued to fire in support while un-ditching. At 11.30am, the Argyll’s, again pinned down, asked for further assistance from the tank while they consolidated the line with Lewis guns in shell-hole posts. The Argyll's now dug in on a line facing north-east some 400 yards west of Potsdam Redoubt and were forming a defensive flank between the 15th 9Scottish) and the 8th Division.

(Linesman Map)

The War Diary records casualties for that day as 4 officers killed, 1 wounded, OR’s,13 killed, 31 wounded and 33 missing.

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