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William Pow

43217 Private

6/7th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers, 45th Infantry Brigade, 15th (Scottish) Division

Age: 36

Date of Death: 31.7.17

Buried: Menin Gate Memorial Panel 19 & 33

Family history: He was the only son of John and Agnes Pow, Newton, Bo’ness. His mother died, aged 29, when he was nine years of age. He had three younger sisters, Jane, Annie, and Mary. William was married to Margaret and they at 44 Newton, Bo’ness with their four children Mary, James, William and John. Prior to enlisting he was employed as a miner by the Kinneil Coal Company.

He enlisted in the 1/10th (Cyclist) Battalion in September 1914, and spent some time on coastal defences before he volunteered for overseas service in July 1916. He was wounded (gassed) at the Battle of the Somme in October 1916 and sent back to the UK. He arrived back in France in March 1917, and rejoined his battalion and saw action at the Battle of Arras in April 1917. The Battalion then moved north to the Salient were they took part in the opening attack of Third Ypres on 31 July 1917, the Battle of Pilkem Ridge.

The action leading to his death

The Battalion was involved in the opening attack of Third Ypres, the Battle of Pilkem Ridge. The front of the 15th (Scottish) Division ran from Potijze road to the Roulers Railway, immediately facing Frezenberg Ridge. The 46th Brigade was on the left of the assault, 44th Brigade on the right with the 45th Brigade ready in reserve to exploit the advance made. The first objective was the enemy front and support lines, the second, the second line, and the third the defensive system fifteen hundred yards further east. When the first two objective had been taken the 45th Brigade was to advance and attack the third. The attack went in at 3.50am on 31 July and by 10am the Frezenberg Ridge had been taken and it seemed that the second position had also been carried. The 45th Brigade advanced against the third objective with the 6/7th Battalion on the right and the 6th Camerons on the left with the 11th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and the 13th Royal Scots in support. At 10.18am the advance began and immediately the Battalion came under heavy machine gun fire and heavy losses occurred. The Battalion reached the wire in front of the German block house redoubt known ‘Bremen Redoubt’ by which time most of its officers were casualties. By 11.30am the 6th Camerons were established in the third position and the Royal Scots Fusiliers had one company east of Potsdam Redoubt however, they were not in touch with the two just west of Bremen Redoubt, while the fourth company was well behind on the Ypres to Zonnebeke Road.

(Linesman Map)

The Germans counter attacked at 2pm and the Camerons were forced to withdraw and with the help of the Royal Scots managed to stabilise the line by 5.30pm. The Royal Scots Fusiliers were now reduced to a Battalion strength of 150 men and had been brought back to the old German first line in preparation for an attack on Beck House (the attack did not go ahead until 2 August), a block house in the old German second line which was still held by them. The isolated company of the Battalion that had been east of Potsdam Redoubt fell back to the strengthen the left. At 3am on 1 August the Battalion was relieved by the 8/10th Gordon Highlanders.


The British War Medal, Victory Medal

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