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Thomas Beattie

S/7049 Private

Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, ‘B’ Company, 2nd Battalion, 98 Infantry Brigade, 33 Division

Age: 31

Date of Death: 24.11.17

Buried: Tyne Cot Memorial Panel 141 to 143

Family history: He had two sisters and three brothers. He was an Army Reservist and joined the 3 Battalion A & SH on 7 August 1914 being posted on 9 August 1914. He was employed as a Canal Boatman. He had been lodging with Mrs Janet Lonie, Sunnyside, Camelon, and she was the recipient of his personal affects.

Thomas had a checkered military career. He was fined 2/6 for drunkenness on 30 September 1914. On the 19 October, he was fined 10/- for drunkenness and again on 26 October. On this occasion he was sentenced not just to a 10/- fine but also 15 days detention. From the 11 to 15 July 1915 he was absent and forfeited 4 days pay.

On 10 August 1915, he was awaiting trial by General Divisional Court Martial for desertion. He was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and this was commuted to 12 months on 23 August 1915. He was imprisoned in the detention barracks at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow. On the 8 March 1916, he received 31 days remission and then a further 154 days special remission and released.

He spent one night on 15 April 1916 in the Military Hospital in Edinburgh Castle with Gonorrhoea he was then transferred on 16 April to the hospital at Glencourse Barracks were he spent a further three nights. He was transferred again to the Workhouse Military Hospital in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and spent the period 19 April to 16 May 1916 there recovering from Gonorrhoea.

On the 28 August 1916, he was posted to his battalion. Thomas was wounded on 2 November 1916, shell splinter wound to the left thigh, and spent from 10 November 1916 to 7 February 1917, recuperating at a hospital in England. He rejoined his regiment on 28 February 1917 being posted from 19th Infantry Base Depot at Etaples to the 2nd battalion.

The action leading to his death

On the 24 November 1917, the battalion occupied the trenches in front of Passchendaele village in what was known as the Passchendaele Salient. The Salient extended to a depth of about three thousand yards and a width of only one thousand yards. The whole area was overlooked by the Germans from Westroosebeke and suffered from shell fire and gas of all descriptions continuously both night and day.

(Linesman map)

The War Diary of the 2/Argyll’s details the situation from 18 to 24 November 1917:

‘The Battalion held a front of about 1700 yards, forming a semi-circle round and in front of Passchendaele village. The line was composed of a series of posts on short trenches. Order of the companies was ‘D’ on the left, ‘A’ centre, ‘B’ right and ‘C’ in support at Crest Farm. All were subjected to heavy shelling, sometimes of the greatest intensity. Owing to the difficulties of the ground which was very marshy, the danger points for hostile counter-attacks was limited and there was no infantry action. Only a little patrolling and wiring was possible. The casualties during the tour numbered 81: All due to the heavy shell fire.’

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