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Robert Stirling

Updated: Nov 5, 2021


1st Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, 81st Infantry Brigade, 27th Division

Age: 22

Date of death: Killed in Action 19 February 1915

Buried: Dickebusch New Military Cemetery, A.15

Family history: Son of Cmdr Thomas Willing Stirling, RN, and Mabel Marie Stirling of Muiravonside. He was educated at Loretto School, Musselburgh. He entered Sandhurst in 1910 & joined the Regiment in 1912 as a 2nd Lt. The 1st Battalion arrived on the Western Front from India in December 1914.

Mine Warfare

The village of St Eloi, 3 miles south of Ypres, is principally remembered today for its wartime history of underground mine warfare. Within the small confines of the area some 30 mines were detonated by both British and German forces. The British exploded six of these at one time (27 March 1916 see the map below). On 7th June 1917, the largest - of 95,600 lbs see pic - being exploded by 1st Canadian Tunnelling Company along with 18 other mines to mark the start of the Battle of Messines on 7 June 1917. Known as 'cratering the ridge' This particular mine resulted in the capture of St Eloi by the British 41st Division. Two of the largest St Eloi craters - both detonated on 27 March 1916 - remain today and straddle the old German lines of 1916-17. Both of these are on private land and are used for fishing or swimming. A third, smaller, mine also lies nearby.

On 7th June 1917, the largest of nineteen mines, 95,600 lbs of ammonal, was detonated at St Eloi. This is the crater today.

The action that lead to his death

19 February 1915, found the Argyll’s in the line at St Eloi, located at Shelley Farm in Trench 21 opposite the Mound. Lt Stirling was shot through the head and killed instantly while he was bandaging a wounded man.

(Linesman Map. The map shows the level of mine warfare at St Eloi from 1915 to 1917)

Medals awarded

1915 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

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