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Francis Crombie

Updated: Sep 25, 2022

S/22862 Corporal

Gordon Highlanders, posted to the 2nd/14th Battalion, London Regiment, (London Scottish), 90th Infantry Brigade, 30th Division.

Age: 24

Date of Death: 14.10.18

Buried: Derry House Cemetery No.2 I.F.2

Family history: Second son of William and Florence Crombie, Schoolhouse, Stenhousemuir.

He was serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps when he landed in France on 1 August 1915 and was later transferred to the Gordon Highlanders. In May 1918 preparations had been made for the 90th Brigade to become a cadre brigade for the training of American troops arriving in Flanders. The Brigade consisted of an HQ establishment which had responsibility for five cadre battalions, each of which contained ten officers and 49 other ranks. In July the Brigade was formed with the addition of its three battalions from the London Regiment, which were all transferred from Egypt. Those in the other cadres battalions were then transferred to these battalions to make up the numbers.

The action leading to his death

The 30th Division, as part of 2nd Army, was part of the British advance to victory, as it later became known, in Flanders. They were preparing for the Battle of Courtrai and the battle took place against a background of the German High Command making efforts to pursue a negotiated armistice. The Germans held Flanders Position II in addition to still holding Flanders Position I south of Gheluwe. At 0535 on 14 October the 2nd Army launched their assault.

(Linesman Map)

The 30th Division went into the attack on the right of the British line with the objective of advancing on Werviq with 21st Brigade on the right and 90th Brigade on the left. The Battalion advanced on a two company front ‘D’ on the right and ‘C’ on the left with ‘B’ company in support and ‘A’ company in reserve. The covering barrage began at 0531 and lifted 100 yards every two minutes. A considerable smoke barrage was also put down. The Battalion, at the start, met with a considerable amount of machine gun fire and resistance from pill boxes with the leading company’s pushing on and the support company dealing with the pill boxes and local resistance. The smoke barrage affected the direction of the attacking company’s but also helped in keeping casualties down as the front wave was in the enemy positions before they had a chance to react. The objectives were taken by 0735 and consolidation began. Casualties were 2 Officers wounded. Other Ranks, 16 killed, and 43 wounded.

Medals Awarded

1915 Star, The British War Medal, Victory Medal.

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