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John Imrie

Private John Imrie. Hill 60. Ypres Salient. Flanders. Falkirk District
Private John Imrie.

13866 Private

2nd Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers, 13th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division

Age: 19

Date of Death: 5.5.15

Buried: Menin Gate Memorial Panel 22

Family history: John lived with his sister at 79 Grangeview Terrace, Falkirk. Prior to enlisting in August 1914 he was employed as a moulder at the Grahamston Iron Foundry.

The action leading to his death

The Division was holding the line at one of the most fought over sections of ground in the Salient, Hill 60. Hill 60 was created, along with two other features, the Caterpillar to the south, and the Dump to the west, by spoil excavated when a cutting was put in for the Ypres-Comines railway. Hill 60 got its name from the contour line marking it on the map.

Linesman. Hill 60. Ypres Salient. Flanders. Falkirk district

The 2nd Battalion KOSB, had already been involved in heavy fighting on the 17 and 18 April to take Hill 60, when the British blew five mines before taking the Hill, and had sustained 220 casualties during this attack. A further 260 casualties were sustained in stemming the subsequent German advance that had commenced on 22 April. The Battalion was ordered forward on the afternoon of 5 May to mount an attack on Hill 60 at 10pm that evening and many of the men who went forward that afternoon were new to the sector. They moved up to the front line passing through Larch Wood. ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies were to mount the assault on Hill 60 with ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies in support and to consolidate the gains. The attack was to be launched from trenches 38 and 39 opposite the hill, with the 1st Battalion Royal West Kents on the left and a twenty minute artillery bombardment of the German positions to take place before the assault went in. The bombardment gave the Germans an early warning that an attack was to be made.

‘C’ Company attacked in the face of heavy enemy frontal fire as well as enfilade and found the Germans massed in the trench in front of them. Four out of five officers were killed immediately. ‘D’ Company got forward however, they came under enfilade fire from the direction of the Caterpillar and were bombed out their positions.

2nd Lieutenant Arthur Gregg of the 1st Cheshires described what he saw: ‘At the allotted time they climbed over the parapet. The order was to go half right. They were met by a storm of rifle and machine gun fire from the hill. Our artillery had not yet stopped and soon theirs started. The poor Scots were simply blown back with lead. They started again and went half left. Their wounded were pouring into the trenches. The sounds were terrible, men shrieking, the fierce cackle of machine gun fire and the cruel shriek of the shrapnel. This was battle. When the next volley of star lights went up there were noticeably more bodies in No Man’s Land. Wounded and belated Jocks were still returning , some helping other wounded back or bringing in the body of some comrade. These shattered remains of a fine regiment all found their way back to my already overcrowded trench and its continuation to the right.

Battalion casualties were four officers killed, eight wounded. Other Ranks, 15 killed, 64 wounded, and 51 missing. The Battalion held trenches 38 and 39, relieving the Dorsets, until they were relieved by the Cheshires on 6 May.

He would have known Private David McLuckie from Carronshore who served in the same battalion and died in the same action.

Medals Awarded:

1915 Star, The British War Medal, Victory Medal.

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