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James Fleming


S/3030 Private

10th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, 26th Infantry Brigade, 9th (Scottish) Division

Age: 19

Date of Death: Killed in Action 12.10.17

Buried: Poelcapelle British Cemetery XXXIX.D.10

Family history: Son of James and Margaret Fleming, 9 Cherry Lane, Camelon, Falkirk. He had an older brother, William, and three younger brothers. He was employed as an apprentice gratefitter at the Port Downie Iron Works before he enlisted, age 16, on 2 September 1914. His father was serving in the Royal Defence Corps and his older brother William was serving with the Black Watch. William had been serving in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and was in hospital in Egypt with malaria.

James went to France on 2 October 1915 and received a wound to the chin on the 15 July 1916. As a result of this wound he was at home from 18 July to 16 November 1916. On recovering from his wound he was posted to France on 17 November 1916 and was again hospitalised, this time with frost bite on 5 January 1917. He was sent back to the UK were his real age was established and he was retained on home service until he achieved the age of 19. He was posted to France on 21 August 1917.

Action leading to his death

The scene of the battle was the low, flat country near the northern end of the Passchendaele Ridge. Along the left boundary of the Division was the Lekkerboterbeek stream, and the whole area was studded with fortified farms and houses. There were three objectives; the first two, the Yellow Dotted and the Blue Dotted Lines, were to be taken by the Highland Brigade, with the final objective, the Purple Doted Line, to be taken by the Lowland Brigade. The leading battalions of the 26th Infantry Brigade, the Black Watch and the Argylls, each on a two company front, were to capture a subsidiary objective, the Green Line, and the Yellow Dotted Line, after which the Seaforths and Camerons were to pass through and go on to the blue Dotted Line. The attack was on a wide front for a brigade and was supported by a barrage that was to move 100 yards every eight minutes, with a pause on the first and second objectives, and sixteen Vickers Guns were to form a machine-gun barrage in support of the infantry. The attack was to begin at 5.30am.


On the 11 October the weather broke down and the march to the assembly positions was made under torrents of rain along slippery duckboard walks. The assembly positions and back areas were heavily shelled with HE and gas shells and many of the taping parties were killed or wounded and all had to wear their respirators.

(Linesman Map)


On the left, the Argylls, who were in touch with the 55th Brigade, 18th Division to their left, had been unable to keep pace with the barrage due to the impassable condition of the ground. The two right companies ’A’ and ’C’ and its supporting company had maintained direction, but ’B’ and ’D’ had swung to the left and some men, crossing the Lekkerboterbeek, so churned up by shell fire that it was unrecognisable, had entered the 18th Division sector. ‘A’ and ‘C’ companies encountered a Pill Box, not marked on the maps, near Burns Houses and were held up with machine-gun fire and sniping. With the support of elements from the 11th Royal Scots, 6th KOSB and 5th Camerons they rushed the Pill Box. The occupants had waved a white flag but had continued to fire. All the occupants, some forty in front and another twenty trying to escape, were killed.

Four machine-guns were captured. With the capture of the Pill Box ‘A’ and ‘C’ companies moved forward 150 yards where they consolidated shell holes. A platoon of ‘B’ Company had crossed the Lekkerboterbeek and had gone about 80 yards when they had come under heavy machine-gun fire and sniping from Beek and Meunier Houses and could go no further. Both ‘B’ and ‘D’ companies formed a defensive flank and gained touch with 18th Division on its old front line. The line taken up by the 9th (Scottish) Division ran from the Cemetery near Wallemolen in front of Inch Houses, to Oxford Houses and back to the original front line.

His platoon officer wrote to his parents: ‘He was a brave lad, and a good soldier. He could quite be depended upon, and I, as his platoon officer, will find it difficult to replace him. His loss will be keenly felt by all who knew him… He did not suffer any pain, for he was killed instantaneously when advancing to the attack.

His body was exhumed after the Armistice and reburied in Poelcapelle British Cemetery

Medals Awarded:

1914-15 Star, The British War Medal, Victory Medal.

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