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William Williamson

8617 Guardsman

1st Battalion, Scots Guards, 1st Infantry Brigade, 1st Division

Age: 27

Date of death: Killed in action 12 November 1914

Buried: Menin Gate Memorial, Panel 11

Family history: Son of Mrs Alice Williamson of Maddiston Close, Maddiston. Brother of George Williamson, 5 Carron View, Maddiston

The action that lead to his death

Although his date of death is shown as 12 November 1914, the battalion was not in action that day. However; the battalion was involved in a major action on 11 November 1914, in stopping the Prussian Guard attack at Veldhoek.

On the 11th at around 6am the Germans began to shell the British lines. there was a slight breeze blowing from the west and this blew the smoke from the German shelling over the British lines and obscured their observation.

The German attacked on a broad front along the Gheluvelt Plateau and using a specially assembled corps which consisted of the 4th Division and the Guards Division formed of Prussian Guards regiments. The main German attack was directed to the front opposite Gheluvelt and extending from, what the British had named, Shrewsbury Forest in the south across the Menin Road to Nonne Bosschen or Nun's Copse and the edge of Polygon Wood.

(Linesman Map)

At around 9am Major Rochfort Boyd saw the German infantry advancing towards the 1st (Guards) Brigade from his position in the Scots Guards orchard. He didn't think that the Scots Guards had seen the Germans because there was little resistance. He noted that the German did not fire but used their bayonets. The Germans 4th Division had attacked south of the Menin Road and had been held.

The 2nd (Emperor Franz) Guard Grenadier Regiment overran the Duke of Wellington's firing line and support trenches at the east of the Veldhoek Chateau Wood and the Scots Guards in their trench in the open field nearby noticed this. They began to retreat although those in the orchard stayed and fought and kept quiet in their trenches when there was nothing more they could do. The Germans made little effort to clear their lines of stragglers.

In the two weeks from 26th October the Scots Guards lost nine officers killed, seven wounded and five missing, of whom four were prisoners of war. Other ranks lost one hundred and five men killed, one hundred and fifty one wounded, and four hundred and thirty missing.

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