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James McCarrol

2274 Private

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

Age: 24

Date of Death: 30.9.15

Buried: Railway Dugouts Burial Ground ( Transport Farm) IV.K.7

Family history: Son of Thomas and Helen McCarrol, North Street, East Bog, Bo’ness. He had three brothers, who all enlisted in the Army. George, 1st Battalion Royal Scots, Michael, Army Service Corps (Transports), John, 2nd Battalion Royal Scots.

James was a Special Reservist and was at Glencorse Barracks, Penicuik, Midlothian, when war was declared. He enlisted in the 2nd Battalion Royal Scots, the same Battalion as his brother John.

The action leading to his death

On the 30 September, ‘C’ Company and the battalion bombers (men proficient in throwing hand grenades) took part in an attack on the German lines. The Germans had blown a mine in the salient, in the British front line at Sanctuary Wood, previously occupied by ‘B’ Company Royal Scots. The British lines would be open to sudden raids if the Germans were allowed to hold this position and the British were determined to remove them. For this purpose ‘C’ Company and the bombers were to co-operate with the 4th Middlesex Regiment in an attack., which after a short artillery bombardment was to be launched at 2.15pm on 30 September. ‘C’ Company was in the centre supported on the right by a company of the Middlesex and on the left by a company of the 2nd Suffolks.

(Linesman Map. Trench positions at 31 July 1917 however, the mining activity is shown at Clonmel Copse.)

The attack was delayed by one hour and ultimately was almost entirely an attack formed by bombing. Progress was slow as the Germans had anticipated an attack and had constructed numerous barricades, defended by groups of bombers, while the approaches over the open ground were covered by machine guns. The bombers advancing first deluged the barricade with bombs and then the men armed with the bayonet went in. the bombs proved more noisy than deadly, for the bayonet men had to deal with a garrison that was unaffected. Due to the confined space in which the fighting took place, no quarter was asked or given, and after an hours fighting the Royal Scots had won back only 10 yards of trench. Following the death of the Company commander, Captain Stewart, the impetus of the attack dissipated into an exchange of bombs. The survivors of ‘C’ Company commenced to build new bombing posts to maintain the ground that they had won. The attack had failed and had cost the Royal Scots 66 casualties.

James McCarrol's Body found after the War

In October 1924. James McCarrol’s body was found in an unmarked grave west of Sanctuary Wood. He was identified by his Gas Helmet Satchel which was inscribed with his service number and initials, ‘2272 J.M.C.' His body was reburied at Railway Dugouts Burial Ground (Transport Farm).


1914 Star, The British War Medal, Victory Medal


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