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Archibald Dearie

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

6753 Private

1st Infantry Labour Company, Seaforth Highlanders, (12th Company, Labour Corps)

Age: 20

Date of Death: 1.9.17

Buried: The Huts Cemetery IV.C.11

Family history: Son of Michael and Mary Dearie, Kirkwood’s close, 102 North Street, Bo’ness. He had four brothers John, Matthew, Thomas and James. He also had three sisters Agnes, Mary and Annie.

He enlisted in the Seaforth Highlanders on 28 February 1917, and joined the 1st Infantry Labour Company with service number S/18307. His company was transferred to the 12th Company, Labour Corps in April 1917 and he was given a new service number of 6753.

What was a Labour Company?

The Labour Corps company was defined in Army Orders when the Labour Corps came into existence in 1917. Its standard composition was defined in Army Council Instruction 611 of that year.


1 Major, commanding the company

4 Lieutenants or Second Lieutenants

1 Company Sergeant Major and 1 Company Quartermaster


8 Sergeants

18 Corporals (of which, 1 a Corporal-Cook and 1 a Corporal-Clerk)

461 Privates (of which 6 were appointed to Lance-Corporal)

6 officers’ batmen (normally Privates)


1 Medical Officer of the Royal Army Medical Corps

8 Drivers of the Army Service Corps (of which 1 a Corporal)


The company was structured into:

Company Headquarters

4 Platoons (under a Lieutenant or Second Lieutenant), each of 2 Sections (under a Sergeant). Each Section made up of 2 Sub-Sections (under a Corporal).


The company was provided with three carts and four General Service wagons and a total of 13 draught and heavy draught horses. The officer commanding would be provided with a riding horse or bicycle at his discretion.

Sources: No Labour, No Battle, Military Labour During The First World War, John Starling and Ivor Lee. Long, Long Trail website

The action leading to his death

June 1917 found the 1st ILC (12th Company, Labour Corps) located in the Dickebusch area working primarily on broad gauge and light railways, dangerous work that attracted attack from German heavy guns.

(Linesman Map. Showing location of Dickebusch and both broad and narrow gauge railways. Today, The Huts Cemetery is located to the left of Iona House shown on the map)

Archibald was killed by shell fire when the company was working in the field on 1 September 1917. One of his comrades, Bo’ness man Private David Wilson, wrote to his parents informing them that Archibald had been killed by shell fire dying instantaneously. He wrote that their son had been buried at The Huts Cemetery (Dickebusch) the burial being presided over by a Church of England padre.

Company CO and other Officer Court Martialled

The stress of working in such close proximity to the enemy guns took its toll on the Commanding Officer of Archibalds Company, Captain Ripon. On 9 August, he was found guilty at a Field General Court Martial (FGCM) of drunkenness and sentenced to forfeiture of seniority and a severe reprimand.

Another officer in the same Company, 2nd Lieutenant William Forgan, faced a FGCM charged with conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline and drunkenness. He was acquitted on the first charge and convicted of drunkenness and sentenced to dismissal. On 9 October the sentence was commuted to severe reprimand although ‘the Council further decided that the officer was to be called upon to resign his commission, adjudging him unfit to hold H.M.’s commission.’ He resigned his commission on 16 November 1917.


The British War Medal, Victory Medal


His headstone does not mention he was a member of the Labour Corps. In 1919 it was decided that the headstone of a member of the Labour Corps, who previously served in any other unit, should record his connection with his previous regiment.

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