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James Smellie

Private James Smellie

3466 Private

1st Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, 81st Infantry Brigade, 27th Division

Age: 34

Date of Death: 24.4.15

Buried: Menin Gate Memorial Panel 42 and 44 

Family history: Husband of Joan they lived at 23 Burnhead Lane, Falkirk. James was a Special Reservist originally enlisting in the 3rd Argyll’s then the Militia Battalion in 1898. He was employed as a moulder at a local iron foundry when war was declared. He was mobilized on 8 August 1914.


The action that lead to his death

On the 24 April the Battalion was in the line at Sanctuary Wood.

Linesman. Trenches at Sanctuary Wood

Minenwerfer. Paschendaele Museum, Zonnebeke. Authors image

On the 22 April the Germans had used gas for the first time in the north of the Salient around Langemarck against the French troops holding the line there. They had broken in panic and the situation was only saved by the actions of the Canadians and British battalions rushed into the gap. The 1st Battalion War diary reports on the 24 April that the artillery battery supporting them had been ordered to turn two guns to fire to the north. The War Diary also recorded that the Germans had been firing Minenwerfer Mortars, known as Minnies, into the Battalion lines. The Minenwerfer was the name for a class of short range weapon used to clear obstacles such as bunkers and barbed wire. They had a devastating effect when used against trench lines with men being buried alive from the explosions and the subsequent collapse of the trench.


Medals Awarded:

1915 Star, The British War Medal, Victory Medal.

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