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John McLay

Menin Gate Memorial. Scots Guards. Gheluvelt. Zandvoorde. Ypres Salient. Flanders. Falkirk District
Menin Gate Memorial. Authors image

6995 Guardsman

1st Battalion Scots Guards, 1st Infantry Brigade, 1st Division

Age: 28

Date of Death: 20.10.14

Buried: Menin Gate Memorial Panel 11

Family: Married to Mary. John was a regular soldier.

The action leading to his death

On the 19 October the battalion had lead the brigade forward in a reconnaissance in force starting from Zandvoorde. They advanced through the forward positions at Kruiseecke towards Gheluwe and had gone about a mile and a half when they were stopped by heavy German shelling coming from Wervicq. They were ordered to withdraw.

Map showing the positions in November 1914. It does show the route of advance from Zandvoorde to Kruiseecke by the Scots Guards

Sgt Christopher Pilkington 1st casualty of Scots Guards Drummer Steer killed by direct hit from shell 20 Oct 1914 Gheluvelt

The only casualty was Drummer Charles Steer, son of Regimental Sergeant Major Sidney Steer of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, previously Scots guards Sergeant. Drummer Steer received a direct hit from a dud German shell and died instantly.

On returning to Zandvoorde the battalion occupied their trenches which were exposed to enemy observation from the southeast, especially those on the right. Zandvoorde stood on a hill, with low lying fields to the east across to Kruiseecke and also to the south.

View to Zandvoorde from Gheluvelt. Authors image

Two shells struck the church tower but didn’t stop the clock. Three Scots Guards were killed on the 20 October, one of them being John.

IWM Sgt Pilkington Zandvoorde Church damage from two shells in the Belfry Oct 1914

Medals Awarded:

1914 Star & Clasp, The British War Medal, Victory Medal.

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