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William Hogg Gibb

S/22648 Private

2nd Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, 98th Infantry Brigade, 33rd Division

Age: 19

Date of Death: 8.5.18

Buried: Tyne Cot Memorial Panel 141 to 143

Family history: Son of Richard and Jessie Gibb he resided with his parents at Little Kerse Cottage, Polmont. He had three brothers and two sisters. He was employed as a Sawyer, someone who saws wood, before he enlisted on 30 September 1916. He lists his age as 17 years and 11 months on his Attestation form. As a conscript he was allocated to the 79th Battalion Training Reserve and initially posted to the Army Reserve and was mobilized on 16 February 1917 and joined the Army on 17 February 1917 in the Training Reserve and went to Montrose to start his training.

Training Reserve

As a conscript William was allocated to the 79th Training Reserve Battalion (TR). On 1 September 1916 there was a reorganization of the Reserve Battalions, before this the infantry battalions contained one or more reserve battalions of regular or new army battalions. With the introduction of conscription in early 1916, the system could not cope with the influx of recruits and the new centralised system of the TR was put in place and local recruitment was abandoned. They were organised into new brigades. Each battalion was allocated a block of 4,000 numbers with the form of the number being TR/2/29926 in the case of William Hogg. This showed the number of the of the District the Recruitment Office was in (2), there were 12 Districts, and the recruits unique number (29926). William was posted to Montrose as his training depot which was, until 31 August

1916, the 20th (Reserve) Battalion Highland Light Infantry.

The Guards, Irish and Territorial battalions did not convert to TR battalions nor did the Special Reserve and Extra Reserve battalions of the regular army, the 3rd and 4th battalions of a regiment, were also not part of the TR. The units insignia and uniform were also different. The cap badge was a General Service badge on a red disc and the letters TR as a shoulder title. Although this changed in June 1917 and again in December 1917.

The Scottish Command had three brigades 9th, 12th and 18th and the men wore a Glengarry rather than a service cap with the 9th Brigade wearing kilts and hose.

All the recruits were not allocated to a particular regiment when the time came for them to be posted. In May 1917, this changed when units of the TR became Graduated or Young Soldier battalions and once again connected with a specific regiment. William was posted to the 3rd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on 31 October 1917, the reserve battalion of the local regiment, and was issued with his new service number S/22648 and the rank of Private.

The action leading to his death

On the 8 May, as part of 33rd Division, the 2nd Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders were in the line in front of Dickebusch Lake and the village of Voormezele. The line, in particular English Wood, Scottish Wood and the support line, were subject to sporadic but heavy German artillery fire on the 5 and 6 May but otherwise it was relatively quiet. On the 7 May ‘B’ company took a prisoner from the 57th Infantry Regiment, 13th Reserve Division who said he had planned to desert because of bad treatment and that there were no attacks planned for the Argyll’s sector of the line. German artillery continued to be active. After dark on the 7 May a patrol was sent out to establish if the village of Voormezele was held in strength by the Germans.

(Linesman Map. Showing positions at 19 May 1918. the British lines are in red and the Germans in blue.)

At 5.50am on the 8 May two prisoners taken on the right of the line stated that the German planned to attack in the sector at 7am. From 3am on the 8 May the Germans had begun to shell the lines with gas shells and a bombardment of 10cm and 15cm shells to the north of the Argyll’s line around Ridge Wood. At about 8.30am men were seen to be leaving the British trenches at Ridge Wood and stragglers from the 30th Composite Brigade who came round the north bank of Dickebusch Lake stated that the Germans had broken through. The 2nd Argyll’s formed a defensive line facing south to prevent an outflanking move by the German from this direction. Their lines were subjected to a heavy artillery bombardment. At 7pm on 8 May the 19th Infantry Brigade counterattacked and retook the ground that had been lost earlier in the day. The Argyll’s withdrew from their defensive line an reoccupied the trenches held prior to the counterattack.

Medals Awarded:

The British War Medal, Victory Medal.

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