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James Wilson Small

Updated: Oct 7, 2021


S/19998 Private

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

Age: 32

Date of Death: 12.10.17

Buried: Tyne Cot Memorial Addenda Panel 5

Family history: He was the son of Agnes Small (nee McLuckie) and had four brothers and two sisters. He was married to Annie Small (nee Heeps) and they had four children. James was employed as a shot firer by the Manuelrigg Coal Company. He first enlisted on 26 September 1914 in the Royal Scots Fusiliers but was subsequently medically discharged with sciatica on 12 June 1915. He reenlisted on 26 January 1916 ‘passing’ his medical and joined the 3rd Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, the reserve Battalion. He was mobilized on 20 April 1917 and sent to France on 14 July 1917.

The 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. The War Diary recorded:

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.

(Linesman Map showing the area of the action fought by 9th Division)


Medals Awarded:

The British War Medal, Victory Medal.


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