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Thomas Bruce Baird

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

8895 Private

10th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, 26th Brigade, 9th (Scottish) Division

Age: 27

Date of Death: 4.5.16

Buried: Rifle House Cemetery I.C.4

Family history: Son of Mrs Elizabeth Baird, 51 Carron Road & the late William Baird. He had three years service with the Queens Own Glasgow Imperial Yeomanry while he worked as a moulder at Falkirk Foundry. He enlisted in May 1915. His brother Andrew, was serving with the Canadian Infantry.

The action leading to his death

On the 1 May 1916, the battalion was moved from 27th Brigade to 26th Brigade as part of a Divisional reorganisation. The division was holding the line in Ploegsteert Wood, known to the Tommies as 'Plugstreet' on the southern end of the Salient. This sector was regarded as a quieter section of the line, if such a place existed in the Salient. Certainly the official history of the Division regarded it as ‘… most pleasant areas along the British front. Ploegsteert Wood itself was a charming spot. As the days lengthened and spring advanced, the wood presented an arcadian appearance . April was a halcyon month. The very huts nestling among the trees, bourgeoning into a beautiful foliage… and the songs of thousands of birds made one feel at times that the war had ceased to be.’

For all that Plugstreet Wood was considered a charming spot this is the Casualty Statement for the battalion for the month of April

(Linesman Map showing the trenches at Ploegsteert Wood)

The battalion was engaged in work parties strengthening the positions, communication trenches, building dugouts and concrete emplacements for machine guns. Mining operations also took place and the infantry battalions supplied working parties for this purpose. On the 4th May the War Diary records that the parties from the 2nd South African Battalion from the South African Brigade were attached for trench familiarisation. The wood was intermittently shelled and the trenches subjected to heavy bombardment resulting in casualties.

(British concrete machine gun emplacement in Ploegsteert Wood. Authors image)

In a letter to his mother Company Sergeant Major McLachlan, whose address was 1 Clyde Street, Camelon, and serving in the same battalion but in a different company, wrote that her son had been killed by a trench mortar at 4.15am and that death was instantaneous and that he was buried the same day at 3pm in a soldiers cemetery behind the firing line (Rifle House Cemetery). He added: ‘It is a simple truth that the decease of Private Baird is mourned by all who knew him.’ He trusted that his mother would find it a comfort to know that he died doing his duty for his King and country.

Medals Awarded

1915 Star, The British War Medal, Victory Medal.

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