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Richard Nisbet Hamilton

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

43277 Private

13th Battalion Royal Scots, 45th Infantry Brigade, 15th (Scottish) Division

Age: 29

Date of Death: 1.8.17

Buried: Menin Gate Memorial Panel 11

Family history: Son of Thomas and Annie Hamilton, Beechmount Cottage, Borrowstoun, Bo’ness. He had a sister Annie Cant, she was married and lived in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. Richard was a moulder to trade however, he was also the insurance agent for the Scottish Legal Assurance Society, a job his father had done previously.

He enlisted on the 11 December 1915, in the 3/5th Battalion Royal Scots and had the service number 3733. He was sent to France with a draft on 5 July 1916 and joined the 12th Battalion from the Base Depot at Etaples. He was wounded, gun shot wound to the right arm, on 20 October 1916 and was sent down the line to the Base Hospital at Rouen and from there to the 1st Scottish General Hospital in Aberdeen. On recovering from his wound he was posted to the 13th Battalion on 20 May 1917, his service being changed to 43277. In early 1917 all Territorial soldiers were allocated a new six digit service number.

The action leading to his death

The Battalion was part of the Fifth Army attack on 31 July 1917, in what became known as the Battle of Passchendaele. The 13th Royal Scots, as part of 45 Infantry Brigade, 15th (Scottish) Division, were involved in the assault on the German lines at Frezenberg Ridge. The task of 15th Division was to seize the ridge near Frezenberg and then to push on to a rise to the north east of Frezenberg known as Hill 35.

The main attack was undertaken by the 44th and 46th Infantry Brigades with the 45th held in reserve to go through the other two Brigades and capture the final objective. The Battalion HQ was in a dugout in Cambridge Trench on Cambridge Road, it was also being used by 6th Cameron Highlanders and as a Report Centre by 45th Infantry Brigade.

Just after mid-day on 31 July, the Battalion HQ moved forward to Beck House with the Battalion due to be relieved that evening by the 10th Scottish Rifles however, the guides could not locate the Battalion and the relief was cancelled.

(Linesman Map)

On the afternoon of the 1 August the Germans launched a counter-attack and the 13th Battalion became dangerously exposed at Beck House and the neighbouring Borry Farm. The Battalion became cut off and surrounded by the Germans and outnumbered and exhausted this isolated garrison was overrun by the Germans with the men either killed or captured.

(Linesman Map showing Beck House & Borry Farm)

The Battalion survivors were withdrawn to Cambridge Road and from there sent back to rest camps near Vlamertinghe. The losses were heavy: 13 Officers and 355 other ranks killed, wounded and missing in two days of fighting.

Richard was posted as missing and his family notified. Later, the British authorities received Richard's paybook from the German authorities. As a result of this any doubt as to his fate was removed.


The British War Medal, Victory Medal

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