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John Rennie Moodie

Menin Gate Memorial. Ypres Salient. Flanders. Falkirk District
Menin Gate Memorial. Authors image.

263041 Private

5th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, 152nd Infantry Brigade, 51st (Highland) Division

Age: 35

Date of Death: 31.7.17

Buried: Menin Gate Memorial Panel 38

Family: His father George resided at 38 Grahams Road, Falkirk. John was boarding with William and Isabella Steven, 120 High Street, Falkirk. He listed her as a dependent. He was employed as a labourer working at a, Iron Foundry. In the pension records William Steven is listed as John’s step-father.

The action leading to his death

At 3.50am on 31 July 1917, the Third Battle of Ypres opened. The 51st (Highland) Division attack was opened with a barrage of 206 drums of burning oil projected from mortars on the German support and reserve lines, like something from medieval siege warfare. A further 150 shells filled with thermite were fired at the strong point known as Fort Caledonia in the German reserve lines. One squadron of the 1st King Edward’s Horse and eight fighting tanks and one supply tank, were placed at the Divisional commanders disposal. The artillery barrage had begun on the 16 July, with some 3,500 shells per day by the 18-pounders, 1,000 rounds per day by the 4.5 howitzers, and 200 rounds per day by the trench mortars.

Simon Verdegehem - Livens Projectors used to support 51st HD in 1917

The leading battalions of the 51st (Highland) Divisions attack were, from right to left, the 5/Seaforth Highlanders, 8/Argyll’s, 7/Gordon’s and the 7/Black Watch. They had little difficulty forming up under the British barrage except that the water filled shell holes and heavy ground made the maintenance of direction and the proper extension of the line difficult. The four battalions advance to the first objective known as the Blue Line and found the trenches obliterated by the artillery barrage. Some of the farms had been so demolished that they could not be located until the sun was up above the horizon. The German counter-barrage opened some ten minutes after the British had launched their attack and this fell mainly on the old British front line. Points of resistance that remained were scattered across the battlefield and were not always cleared in the half light. Any that showed themselves were immediately dealt with. The 7/Black Watch were opposed by the remnants of an elaborate trench system however, they dealt with this and cleared the area.


With the Blue Line secured according to plan, the battalions consolidated their positions as the troops allocated to the capture of the Black Line passed through them.

The War diary records the action of the 5th battalion, Seaforth Highlanders:

Medals Awarded:

The British War Medal, Victory Medal.

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