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Alexander Spence


Larbert

S/5617 Sgt

8/10th Battalion Gordon Highlanders, 44th Brigade, 15th Division

Age: 28

Date of Death: 31.7.17

Buried: Menin Gate Memorial Panel 22

Family history: Eldest son of Reverend A Easton Spence and of Barbara Milne Cowan Spence, UF Manse, Dollar. He who was born in the Free Church Manse at Insch in Aberdeenshire. Both his father, grandfather and great grandfather were Free Church ministers. His father was the minister of Larbert East United Free Church from 1903 to 1911 when he became minister of Dollar UF Church. Alexander was educated at Stirling High School and at the Technical College in Glasgow. Before he enlisted in Hamilton on 3 September 1914, he was employed Assistant Surveyor for Lanarkshire.

The 10th Battalion Gordon Highlanders left Parkhouse Camp, Salisbury on 8 July 1915 and entrained for Folkestone were they embarked on the SS Victoria landing in France on 9 July at Boulogne The 10th Battalion began their trench induction on 20 July 1915, attached to the 7th London Regiment. They joined the 15th (Scottish) Division on August 1, 1915. The 10th Gordons were part of 44th Infantry Brigade, 15th (Scottish) Division, a K2 division. The 8/10th was an amalgamated battalion of the 8th Battalion, 26th Brigade, 9th Scottish Division and the 10th Battalion of the 44th Infantry Brigade. This amalgamation took place from May 1916 and the battalion became numbered 8/10th Gordons, 44th Brigade, 15th (Scottish) Division.

The action leading to his death

On 31 July 1917, the opening day of the Third Battle of Ypres, the 8th/10th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders, were located at Gully Farm before the Frezenberg Ridge in the Ypres Salient. They were the leading battalion in the 44th Brigade attack with the right flank on the Ypres-Roulers railway and attacked on a frontage of 350 yards with two companies, each with two platoons in line and two in support.

(Trench Map for the Battalion War Diary showing the objectives of the Blue, Black and Green Lines and line of attack)


The third company moved in a similar formation in rear of the two foremost. The fourth company brought up the rear in artillery formation, and with it moved two machine guns and a Stokes mortar. A company of tanks was allotted to the 44th and 46th Brigades, which had the task of capturing the first and second objectives.


On the front of the 8/10th Gordons the second was just over a mile from the start-line. It ran across what was called the Frezenberg Ridge, actually only a few feet above the plain. The morning was overcast, so that it was still dark. Apart from the usual machine-gun fire, there was hand to hand fighting short of the first objective.

(Linesman Map showing Wilde Wood)


Amid the stumps of a copse known as Wilde Wood the fighting was very sharp. The first objective was secured at 4.25am and the same experience was repeated in the advance to the second objective. The Gordons met a number of machine gun posts protected by concrete ‘pill-boxes’ By 5.55am the second objective was secured. Sometime during the advance to the first and second objectives Alexander was killed in action.

Medals Awarded

1915 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal


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