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William Neilson

Menin Gate. Ypres Salient. Flanders. Falkirk District
Menin Gate Memorial. Authors image

6461 Regimental Sgt Major

1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders, 76th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Division

Age: 36

Date of Death: Killed in Action 2.3.16

Buried: Menin Gate Memorial Panel 38

Family history: Son of William and Jessie Neilson 340 Thornhill Road. Husband of Bridget Neilson 97A Wallace Street. They had five children. William was a regular soldier.


The action leading to his death

On February 14 1916 the Germans carried out a local action on the north bank of Ypres - Comines Canal at the Bluff. The Bluff was a tiny artificial hill topping the terraced spoil bank, but it gave a good observation of the area. The Germans drove troops of the 17th Division off the Bluff with heavy loss and captured the British front line for 500 yards. The 76th Brigade was brought forward from St Omer, where it had been enjoying a weeks rest, to Poperinge where they came under the command of 17th Division. The plan called for all four of 76th Brigade’s battalions taking part, 2/Suffolks, supported by 10/Royal Welch Fusiliers to storm that part of the line were the Bluff was situated, as well as the canal bank where enemy mine workings were suspected. Companies of the 1/Gordon’s were detailed to attack on the left at the BEAN leaving the 8/King’s Own to take care of the centre. The attack was launched at 4.30am on 2 March with no preliminary artillery bombardment, as planned. It went well with the Germans being taken by surprise. The right company of the Gordon’s was successful however, the left was held up on the German parapet with three platoons of ‘A’ company being practically annihilated. Only 20 men penetrated into the German trench. After much heavy fighting the situation was stabilized and the positions secured. Battalion casualties were 3 Officers killed, 4 wounded. Other ranks, 71 killed, 145 wounded and 12 missing.

Medals Awarded:

1914 Star with Clasp, The British War Medal, Victory Medal.

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