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Kenneth James Niven

Tyne Cot Memorial. Ypres Salient. Flanders. Falkirk District
Tyne Cot Memorial. Authors image

2nd Lieutenant

11th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, 45th Infantry Brigade, 15th (Scottish) Division.

Age: 19

Date of Death: 22.8.17

Family history: Son of Charles Bain Niven M.B.E. and Euphemia Niven, 18 Meeks Road, Falkirk. His father was Chief Engineer with the Carron Line. Prior to enlisting Kenneth was employed in the drawing office of the Falkirk Iron Company. He enlisted in January 1915 and was gazetted in April 1917. His brother John was a 2nd Lieutenant serving with the Royal Field Artillery and was killed in action in May 1917 and is buried in Anzin-St-Aubin British Cemetery, Grave II.C.3.

The action leading to his death

The 15th (Scottish) Division was moved forward to support the attack on Frezenberg Ridge. The attack of the 16th (Irish) Division had stalled in front of the German strong points at Beck House and Borry Farm. On the 17 August 46th Brigade took over the whole of the right sector of V Corps front from the 16th (Irish) Division. This Brigade had occupied this ground a fortnight earlier and the situation had not changed from then to now. Operations were also greatly hampered by the state of the ground and the weather conditions. It was the task of the Division to take these strong points and both 44th and 45th Brigades had spent the 19 August practicing the attack. On that day both Brigades also moved to Toronto Camp, nearer the front line and on the night of the 20/21 August relieved 46th Brigade and part of the 183rd Brigade of 61st Division in the front line in preparation for the attack on the 22 August. On the 21 August a patrol of the 11th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders got as far a Beck House, and threw bombs into it. On a report that the house was unoccupied half a platoon went forward to occupy it only to be met by a strong party of Germans and they withdrew to a trench some 50 yards to the west of the house.


At 4.45am the attack was launched under the cover of a creeping barrage and fire from thirty two machine guns and within thirty seconds the German counter barrage came down on the line Frezenberg to Square Farm and their machine guns began to take their toll of the 44th Brigade before they had even left their trenches. On the right the fate of the leading companies of the 13th Royal Scots and the 11th Argyll’s was unknown as they had run into heavy machine gun fire and no information could be sent back or support sent up. Of the Argyll’s, only three badly wounded officers and 20 men under a Sergeant from ’D’ Company came back. The remainder of the leading companies of the Battalion having been annihilated.

Medals Awarded:

The British War Medal, Victory Medal.

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