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Cameron Gilchrist

S/8820 Private

9th Battalion Black Watch (Royal Highlanders), 44th Infantry Brigade, 15th (Scottish) Division

Age: 21

Date of Death: 23.8.17

Buried: Tyne Cot Memorial Panel 94 to 96

Family history: Son of John C and Jeanie L Dick Gilchrist, The Hedges, Wall Street, Camelon. He was one of three sons serving in the army. Prior to enlisting in early 1915, he worked with his father. His brother, Gunner James, was serving with the Royal Field Artillery, and had been wounded by shrapnel in March 1917 and had still to recover from his wounds. His other brother, L/Cpl Gordon, was serving with the Royal Engineers. He had been wounded in April 1917 and had returned to his unit.

The action that lead to his death

The Division had been engaged in the opening attack of Third Ypres at Frezenberg ridge on 31 July. Although the final objective had not been taken the important Frezenberg Ridge had been secured. After a period of rest the Division commenced moving up to the front in readiness for the second phase of the battle that would commence on 22 August. The Division covered a front that included Hill 35 and Gallipoli Farm. For the initial attack the 9th Black Watch were to be in support. During the night of 21 August the battalion moved up to their reserve positions in the old German front line trenches between Rupert Farm and Oder House. Hardly had it reached this when the Germans launched a heavy gas shell bombardment which caused some 30 casualties , with 10 killed.

(Linesman Map)

The attack commenced at 4.45am on 22 August and at once the leading battalions of the 8th Seaforths and 7th Cameron Highlanders, came under heavy machine gun fire from concrete emplacements. The leading battalions had become mixed up as night was falling and the 9th Black Watch were sent forward to relieve the 7th Cameron Highlanders. The Black Watch were to attack Gallipoli Farm at 1.30am on 23 August. There was no time for reconnaissance and with the difficult conditions it was no surprise that they did not achieve their objective. All touch was lost with the flank battalions and barely 100 yards of ground was gained before the attack was brought to a standstill by intense fire from Hill 35. In this hasty attack the battalion lost 50 Other Ranks killed or wounded.

Further tragedy was to strike the battalion when the Commanding Officer, and the headquarters staff, which had taken up a position in a captured German bunker, were killed or wounded by a German shell that had exploded in the bunker. The entrance was facing the German lines. The shell killed 12 of the Battalion Headquarters staff and wounded 9 others.

Medals Awarded:

1915 Star, The British War Medal, Victory Medal

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