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James Denholm Williamson

Menin Gate Memorial. Authors image

23013 L/Cpl

44th Brigade Machine Gun Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), attached to the 44th Brigade, 15th (Scottish) Division.

Age: 21

Date of Death: 2.8.17

Buried: Menin Gate Memorial Panel 56

Family history: Son of Mrs. J. Williamson, Birnam Place,  Falkirk. He had a sister Mary and two brothers William, who was a Sergeant serving with the Gordon Highlanders and had been severely wounded in April 1917, and John who was serving as a Third Officer on a transport ship. James had served an apprenticeship with the Allan Shipping Line however, defective eyesight had prevented him from continuing. He was then employed as a journalist with the Falkirk Herald as their  Denny representative and when he enlisted in May 1915 was employed by the  Dumbarton Herald.

He enlisted in the 7th Battalion Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders machine gun section. The 44th Brigade Machine Gun Company was formed from the Machine Gun Sections of the four Battalions that made up the 15th (Scottish) Division, 9th Battalion Black Watch, 8th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, 10th Battalion Gordon Highlanders, and the 7th Battalion Cameron Highlanders.


The action leading to his death

The 44th Brigade Machine Gun Company was involved in the opening battle of Third Ypres known in the battle nomenclature as ‘Battle of Pilkem Ridge.’ The Company was providing support to the battalions of the Division in their assault on the German lines at Frezenberg Ridge.


A Sergeant wrote to his mother that James had been killed at 5.30am on 2 August. He had been going out to fix a broken telephone cable when he was killed by a shell burst close to the door of their dugout. He added: ‘He was my Lance-Corporal in the signallers and had been with me for nearly eighteen months, and I can assure you that he was the best man I have ever had under me since the war began.

In announcing his death The Falkirk Herald recorded that: ’He was a promising young man, and a successful career in journalism was assured. Evidence of his special ability was afforded in his authorship of a play “Tammas’s Dilemma” which was produced with much success in Denny Town Hall in January 1915 on behalf of the Belgian Fund.


Medals Awarded:

1915 Star, The British War Medal, Victory Medal.


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