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Peter Graham Harrison

S/40807 L/Cpl

4th Battalion Gordon Highlanders, 154th Infantry Brigade, 51st (Highland) Division

Age: 18

Date of Death: 20.9.17

Buried: Tyne Cot Memorial Panel 135 to 136

Family history: Son of Mrs J L Ewing, 42 Redbrae Terrace, Camelon. Prior to enlisting he was an apprentice to Mr E McPhee, who owned a chemist shop in Grahamston. He enlisted in May 1915, in the Lovat Scouts before being transferred to the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders and then to the Gordon Highlanders. His brother, serving with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, had been gassed and was recovering in Ripon.

The action that lead to his death

The 51st (Highland) Division was involved in the opening stages of the Battle of Poelcappelle with the main objectives of the operation to secure a jumping off place for an attack against Poelcappelle and positions in the valley of the Steenbeek from which the artillery could cover the attack. The are which was allotted to the Highland Division to capture was 1500 yards in depth and some 1900 yards in wide. The 154th Brigade was given the task of carrying out the attack. The German defences were well defined with a trench running across the Divisional front about 150 yards away known as Pheasant Trench and New Trench. A further 1200 yards to rear were Kangaroo and Beer Trenches. The defence was primarily made up of concrete pill-boxes and fortified farms supported by troops in shell-holes. To protect the troops in the shell-holes the Germans had around this time equipped them with body armour to protect them against shrapnel bullets and rifle bullets from a range of 400 yards or over.

(Image showing Germans wearing body armour)

Two objectives were selected, the first being, on maps seen as the Blue dotted line and the, the line of the Stroombeek continued in a northwest direction to Delta Huts. The final objective, on the maps shown as the Blue Line, and ran through Quebec Farm, Bavaroise House, church Trench to Delta House. The plan of attack was that the two leading battalions, 9th Royal Scots and 4th Seaforth Highlanders, would go as far as the Blue dotted line with the 7th Argyll’s and the 4th Gordons passing through and taking the Blue Line.

(Linesman Map)

The 4th Gordons, who had already lost five officers and 60 other ranks before forming up under the British barrage, had their first engagement with the enemy at Pheasant Farm Cemetery. Here a lance-corporal was responsible for capturing two machine-guns and twenty-eight prisoners. Malta House, Rose House, and Delta House were all captured after stiff resistance. The battalion had only three officers and six platoons of ten men in each in the front line and the reserve company with two officers was sent forward. The Germans counterattacked in the late afternoon and forced the battalion to withdraw and establish a defensive line along Cemetery Road. The War Diary records that every company officer was out of action and that Other Ranks casualties were estimated at 200.

Medals Awarded:

The British War Medal, Victory Medal

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