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James Fraser

1915 Private

2nd Battalion Royal Scots, 8th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Division

Age: 22

Date of Death: 14.12.14

Buried: Menin Gate Memorial Panel 11

Family history: Son of James and Maggie Fraser of Denny. He had three brothers and a sister. He was married to Agnes and they had a daughter Jennie who was born on 29 June 1914. Agnes remarried in March 1917.

The action leading to his death

The Battalion had begun the month of December quietly. They were to become involved in one of the last actions of the year of any importance on the northern front. It was to be a mainly French operation with the British 3rd Division and its 8th Brigade on the French right taking part. The plan was for the attack to spread south with the ultimate aim of capturing Messines Ridge. The 8th Brigade, with 9th Brigade in support and 7th Brigade in reserve, attacked with 1st Gordons on the right attacking Maedelstede Farm and 2nd Royal Scots on their left attacking Petit Bois.

(Linesman Map)

At 3am the Battalion moved off through Kemmel Chateau grounds to take over trenches held by the Liverpool Scottish. ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies occupied the fire trenches, with ‘C’ Company on the right. ‘B’ Company was in support and ‘A’ Company in reserve. The wire entanglements in front of the line were cut down. At 7am a heavy bombardment of the German positions at Petit Bois began and at 7.45am ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies advanced under heavy machine gun and rifle fire from the German positions. ‘D’ Company had to file through a gate in the British line due to a thick hedge immediately in front of their fire trenches. Both companies advanced at the point of the bayonet over 150 yards to the attack in two lines at 20 yard intervals and took one officer and 60 other ranks prisoner along with two machine guns. Both ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies consolidated the trenches captured and ‘D’ Company then sent out a patrol into the wood and they discovered a second line of German trenches empty and filled with water about 100 yards in front of the captured trenches. ‘C’ Company could not make any progress due to heavy machine gun fire. ‘D’ Company, now reinforced by three platoons from ‘B’ Company, did not make any further moves forward. At 5.30pm the 2nd Suffolks relieved the battalion and went into the reserve trenches and awaited the arrival the Liverpool Scottish before moving off to billets in Kemmel.

The War Diary reported the battalion casualties as:

Medals Awarded:

1914 Star, The British War Medal, Victory Medal

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