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John McDonald


1881 Private

1/7th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, 10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Division

Age: 19

Date of Death: 24.5.15

Buried: White House Cemetery III.C.7

Family history: Son of John and Ann McDonald, 166 West Carron, Falkirk. He was employed in the Berlin blacking shop at the Carron Iron Works. He joined the Territorials in 1913. His brother William, a Private serving with the Seaforth Highlanders, was killed in action on 4 October 1917 and is listed on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

The action leading to his death

On the 24 May the Battalion relieved the 1/Royal Warwicks in the line extending from Wieltje to St Julien road some 400 yards south with the 2/Dublin Fusiliers on their left and the 1/Royal Scots Fusiliers on their right. The 5/Border’s, attached to the Argyll’s for trench instruction, provided fifty per cent of the battalion strength.


(Linesman map)


At 2.15am the Germans released gas which was accompanied by a heavy artillery barrage which was kept up for a few hours. The Germans attacked the British line and took the trenches held by the 2/Dublin’s on the left. Some of the newer Border men retreated when the gas attack began but the more experienced and majority of the Border men held the line, although the causalities were very heavy. Major McCracken, commanding ‘D’ Company, was sent back to La Brique for the battalion Medical Officer and to bring up support in the form of ’B’ Company of the 2/Seaforth Highlanders. Casualties from the shell fire had continued throughout the day, many of the casualties occurred amongst the men who had retired when the gas attack began. They had become further gassed by the moving gas cloud and had been caught in the German barrage that had moved from the British front line to the support line. The battalion trenches were now also subject to enfilade fire and in the early hours of the morning of 25 May they withdrew to new trench lines some 300 yards to the rear.

Medals Awarded

1915 Star, The British War Medal, Victory Medal.


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