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John McDonald

Menin Gate Memorial. The bluff. Ypres Salient. Flanders. Falkirk District
Private John McDonald. Menin Gate Memorial

S/1573 Private

10th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, 27th Infantry Brigade, 9th (Scottish) Division.

Age: 24

Date of Death: 15.10.15

Buried: Menin Gate Memorial Panel 42 & 44

Family: Husband of Mary they had a daughter Mary and they lived at 24 Corporation Street, Falkirk. Prior to enlisting in September 1914, he was employed as a moulder at Laurieston Iron Foundry. Mary remarried a discharged soldier, P Madden, on 21 December 1917.

The action leading to his death

On the 10 October 1915, the Battalion held the trenches numbered 27, 28 and 29 at the Bluff. This was one of the best places in the Salient for observation and was therefore one of the first places that mine warfare developed. The Ypres-Commines canal runs south from Ypres and the spoil from the canal works was thrown up on either side to form what became known as the Bluff and further along Spoilbank. The trench lines were established in the area between Verbrandenmolen and the Bluff at the end of 1914 by French troops.

The Bluff. Ypres Salient. Flanders. Falkirk District

The trenches here being numbered rather than named when the British took over. The dispositions of the 10/Argyll’s saw three companies ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ occupy trenches the trenches and ‘D’ company was in reserve in dugouts at Spoilbank. ‘A’ company had two platoons in the firing line and two platoons in support in dugouts on the Bluff. On the evening of 12 October, the Battalion was relieved by the 6th Battalion Royal Scots fusiliers who took over trenches 27 and 28 leaving 10th Argyll’s holding trench 29 with ‘A’ Company and the other companies in reserve in Canal Bank and Spoilbank.

The Bluff. Mine Craters. Ypres Salient. Flanders. Falkirk District
Sketch Map from 10th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders War Dairy October 1915. showing the trenches they occupied at the Bluff.

At 6am on 13 October the Germans exploded a mine underneath an old crater in trench 29 and the War Diary records:

War Diary. 10th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. The Bluff. Ypres Salient. Flanders. Falkirk District
War Diary

John was blown up in the mine explosion. He would have known Private David Burt from Camelon, Private John Dow , and Private Arthur Neil Gillespie of Falkirk who joined the Regiment and went to France at the same time and were killed in the same action.

Medals Awarded:

The British War Medal, Victory Medal.

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