We Will Remember Them WW1
We are grateful for the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund without which we would not have been able to embark on our WW1 Project called ‘We Will Remember Them’.
The funding enabled us to research the names on the Fearn and Nigg war memorial stones relating to the service men and women from the Seaboard Villages and Fearn Parish, (even discovering a name which had been missed) archiving this information and uploading to the www.seaboardhistory.com web-site. Much of the research was done on-line but a great deal of material was handed in from people from the area and this had to be verified from death records, birth certificates or other official documentation which could be found.
Workshops undertaken crossed the generations and covered subjects such as, trench art, wartime postcards, textile art, the relevance of the poppy and a special visit and talk from Curators of the Fort George Museum.
We also visited Fort George on Remembrance Day just in time to take the minutes silence before entering the Museum with particular emphasis on the WW1 exhibits, this was a wonderful experience. Being able to witness servicemen and women leave the Chapel after the official Remembrance Day Service was particularly moving, all immaculately turned out in their various uniforms, and some looking no more than young boys and girls, a stark reminder of just how young the service men and women were who went to war in 1914 and never came back.
Our WW1 Exhibition in the Seaboard Memorial Hall ran for 2 weeks with displays of photographs, letters and other documents relating to WW1. These were displayed in large albums and are now kept in the Seaboard Memorial Hall for anyone to view. Articles such as soldier’s tin hats, cavalry swords, trench art, service documents and various other war manuals and memorabilia were on view.
Local musicians contributed to a CD of WW1 songs with most of the musicians having strong family connections to many of the service men and women listed in the project, and for those people who are perhaps not so I.T. minded a DVD of the research has been produced.
Part of the project requirement was to put in place a permanent structure in the Seaboard Villages in remembrance of all those who went to war. The community now proudly own a magnificent Caithness Slab stone which stands outside the Seaboard Memorial Hall, the stone now gives that recognition, the silver inscription being caught by the rise of the sun in the morning and its going down later in the day, therefore suitably inscribed with the words “AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING WE SHALL REMEMBER THEM”
I take this opportunity to thank all those who were involved with the Project in whatever way, whether it was volunteering, supplying information or attending the workshops but a special thanks and mention must be made of:
Jeanette MacDonald & Ruby Swallow (sisters) who spent a considerable amount of time building up the albums and creating display boards for the Exhibition.
‘The Crafty Crew’ – a group of local ladies who were given the task of creating a piece of Textile Art which could be used at the Remembrance Day Services going forward.
Lastly, William McRae, the principal researcher on this project.
“Thank you Willie for your outstanding contribution to this project, your vast knowledge of WW1 with regards those from this area has been undoubtedly the key to the success of the Project. The hours and hours of sterling work done at home and here at the Seaboard Memorial Hall will now be ‘Remembered’ for generations to come”
Fearn War Memorial just after it’s unveiling in it’s original position, before it was turned.
Serjeant Allan Cameron, 2nd Seaforth Highlanders, was the son of Alick and Katie MacDonald Cameron, Balnabruich, Nigg, and husband of Flora Cameron [nee Sutherland], Lochslin Cottage, Fearn.
Allan Cameron was a carpenter to trade, he went out with the 4th Seaforth in November 1914 and spent 3 winters in the trenches, wounded for the first time in 1915, he became time-expired while recovering in hospital but promptly re-enlisted. He returned to the front line in October 1916 with 2nd Seaforth’s.
The Battle of Arras began on Easter Monday 1917, 2 days later, on the 11th April, Allan Cameron was killed when 2nd Seaforth took part in an attack on Roeux. The Battalion was spotted forming up for the attack and was shelled by enemy artillery, when the advance moved out over a kilometre of open ground the Seaforth’s were hit by heavy machine gun fire from both the railway embankment and the chemical works. 432 Seaforth’s started the attack, 375 were to become casualties, only 57 came through the attack unscathed. Allan Cameron was seen to go down wounded and was listed as missing, it was a month before his body was recovered and his family was given the sad news. The Seaforth’s monument was erected at Fampoux after the war, erected in the shape of a Celtic Cross to remember the loses the Regiment had suffered there.
Allan Cameron has somehow been missed from both the Fearn and Nigg War Memorials. Allan is buried and Remembered with Honour in the Brown’s Copse Cemetery, Roeux. He left a widow and young child, he was 26 years of age.
Corporal William John Fraser was the son of Calrossie cattleman William Fraser and his wife Jane. Before the war he was an agent of the Prudential Assurance Company and was well known in Easter Ross. He was a Lovat Scout and served on the Gallipoli Peninsula and in Egypt before transferring to the 5th Cameron Highlanders.
He was killed in France during the Battle of Arras on the 3rd May 1917 when the 5th Cameron’s attacked the Roeux Chemical Works at 3.45am, the attack floundered due to the darkness and heavy German machine fire from the Chemical Works but also from being shelled by British artillery, a second attack was attempted later but with the same result, even back in their own trenches until relieved at midnight the Cameron’s were at most danger from the British shelling.
William John Fraser’s body was not recovered and is Remembered with Honour on the Arras Memorial, he was aged 24.
Charles James Gordon
Corporal Charles James Gordon was the son of Pitkerrie farmer Robert Gordon and his wife Mary. He was born in Fearn on the 29th January 1896. After doing well in his education at Tain Royal Academy he went on to Aberdeen University to study medicine and also excelled in athletics. He joined the University Company of 4th Gordon Highlanders in 1913.
When war broke out his Company was sent to Bedford for training and he went with the 4th Gordon Highlanders when they moved to France in February 1915.
Charles Gordon was wounded at the Hooge on the 23rd of September 1915 and after hospitalisation and further training in Ripon he was returned to the front.
Charles Gordon was killed during heavy fighting around High Wood on the 23rd July 1916; he voluntarily attempted to get information about enemy trenches and was reported missing, presumed killed. His C.O. wrote of him: “He died the death of a hero. He ‘played the game’ in everything and finished with a stainless character.”
Charles Gordon’s body was recovered and he is buried and Remembered with Honour in the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval; he was just 20 years old.
William B. Gordon
Private William B. Gordon was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire; he was a member of the 7th [Leith] Battalion of the Royal Scots and was killed during the Battle of Loos on the 21st October 1915. British casualties at Loos were high with at least 20,000 deaths.
William B. Gordon’s body was not recovered and he is Remembered with Honour on the Loos Memorial. No family details or age are recorded.
Rifleman James Grant was the son of James and Margaret Grant of Woodside, Highmills Road, Tain, he was a brother of Mrs Henderson of Police Headquarters, Dingwall. James Grant was the postman in Fearn and on attaining age he joined the London Regiment [Post Office Rifles].
After training in the UK he went to France with his battalion and saw considerable service on the Western Front before being reported ‘Missing in Action’ on the 30th October 1917. After exhausting all channels to find out James’s fate, the war office, after 9 months of suspense informed his family he had been killed or died of wounds on the day he went missing.
His body was never recovered and James Grant is Remembered with Honour on the Tyne Cot Memorial, he was 22 years old.
The only information we have been able to find on William MacAllister is a letter in January 1920 from George Sinclair, Local Pension Committee, 6 King Street, Tain, applying for a pension for Mrs. Isabella MacAllister, Fearn Station.
The letter states: “I duly received your letter of 16th January. This woman belongs to the travelling tinker class. Captain G. A. Gordon, Fearn, took an interest in her case and it was he who filled up Form S.P.11. I sent Form S.P.9 to Captain Gordon and asked him to fill it up as far as he was able. You will note what he says in his letter to me.
The woman cannot read or write herself. You may take it however that everything Captain Gordon says is correct. I saw the woman myself and I am quite satisfied that everything she states is correct. The woman wanders a lot and although Fearn is her headquarters she is not there just now.We are not able therefore to fill in Form 9 as fully as we would like, but I rather think that Form S.P.11 contains all the other particulars, as to her family, which are necessary. Yours Faithfully, G. Sinclair.”
There are several William MacAllister’s in the Commonwealth War Graves listings and so far we not able to connect one to the Parish of Fearn.
We have been unable to find a Commonwealth War Grave for a Donald MacAngus, Royal Naval Reserve from the Fearn Parish.
We have two Donald MacAngus’s from the Seaboard Villages on the Naval Lists for 1915.
Donald MacAngus – 8, Lady Street, Hilton.
Donald MacAngus – 13, Shore Street, Hilton.
Anyone with any information about Donald MacAngus please let Seaboard History know.
We have been unable to find a Commonwealth War Grave for a Private James MacAngus from the Fearn Parish.
There is a James MacAngus from Hilton, who, on his marriage to Margaret Wright in Chelmsford on Christmas Eve 1918, is listed as a Corporal in the Seaforth Highlanders. James was electrocuted in a factory in Chelmsford in April 1919, he stood on a bare live wire that should have been covered. During the inquest into his death it was stated he had served in France for 3 years with the Seaforth Highlanders, was a hero of Mons, had been gassed and was released from service because he was suffering from trench foot [because of the soldiers standing continually in water and mud in the trenches the feet are never dry and so start to rot]. It is possible with this James MacAngus dying so close to the end of the war he was listed on the Fearn War Memorial.
Anyone with information about James MacAngus please get in touch with Seaboard History.
Stoker William MacAngus [spelling is McAngus on the form] signed up for the Royal Navy at the same time, 21st December 1909, as William Sutherland who was lost on H.M.S. Monmouth.
William McAngus was born in 1889 in Hilton, he was a fisherman to trade. His record shows he was 5ft 8 and 5/8 inches tall, dark hair, blue eyes and various tattoos, female figure, my sweetheart, clasped hands, true love, angel and cross and Faith, Hope and Charity. From 1912 onward his service did not go well, a total of 68 days in the cells for 4 different occasions for being ‘absent’, culminating in December 1914, 90 days hard labour for attempting to strike a Leading Stoker and dismissed from H.M. Service after he had served his time. This form also states that he enrolled in the Royal Naval Reserve in July 1917.
He was the son of Alexander and Christina McAngus, 15 Shore Street, Hilton, and husband of Bell Anne McAngus, they had 2 children. He was also 1 of 4 brothers who served in the Royal Navy in WW1, Dan, John and Alexander being the others.
William died of influenza during the epidemic of 1918, his oldest child died as well, they are buried together in Balintore Old Cemetery.
William Hugh MacAngus
Seaman William Hugh MacAngus, H.M.S. Ghurka, Royal Naval Reserve, was the son of William and Annie MacAngus of Craiglea, Hilton.
H.M.S. Ghurka was travelling through heavy seas on the 8th February 1917, 4 miles South East of the Dungeness buoy she struck a mine laid by a German U-Boat, a large portion of the crew died in the explosion and because she sank quickly, most of the rest of the crew died through drowning and hypothermia, only 6 of the crew were rescued by the armed trawler Highlander. In all, 75 of the crew were lost.
There is family history that William’s brother was on another ship which passed H.M.S. Ghurka going in the opposite direction thirty minutes before the explosion and knowing each others ships, they had waved to each other from the decks in the passing.
H.M.S. Ghurka lies in 30 metres of water off Dungeness and has been partially salvaged using explosives. Even though the remains of her crew lie with her, she was not designated a War Grave until 2008.
William MacAngus has no known grave and is Remembered with Honour on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. He was 21 years of age.
We have been unable to find a Commonwealth War Grave for Sergeant J. MacDonald from the Fearn parish.
Anyone with any information about J. MacDonald please let Seaboard History know.
Seaman James MacKay, H.M.S. Excellent, Royal Naval Reserve, was the son of Alexander and Annie MacKay, 2 Shore Street, Balintore.
James was based at the Portsmouth gunnery school, H.M.S. Excellent, a shore base, when he died on the 9th February 1917. We do not know if he died from illness or accident.
His father Alexander was also serving with Royal Naval Reserve during World War 1 and his younger brother also Alexander [ called Alistair ], a Merchant Seaman on the M.V. Henry Stanley was to lose his life when his ship was torpedoed in the Second World War.
James is interred and Remembered with Honour in Balintore Cemetery. He was 21 years of age.
Private William MacKay, 8th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. D. Mackay, Lower Pitkerrie, Fearn.
William MacKay was 1 of 2 soldiers of 8th Seaforth’s from Fearn killed on the same day, [ see Duncan Ross ]. On the 22nd August 1917, 8th Seaforth were deployed to attack the Passchendaele Ridge. The attack was repulsed with 124 Seaforth’s killed and the bodies unable to be recovered.
William MacKay was a farm worker before the war, he enlisted in March 1916 and served 7 months in France with 7th Seaforth before he was invalided home. He returned to France with 8th Battalion after his recovery. His brother David also fought with 2/4th Seaforth and 7th Seaforth from February 1915 onward before being badly gassed in March 1918 and returned home.
William has no known grave and is Remembered with Honour on the Tyne Cot Memorial. He was 27 years of age.
Lance Serjeant Alexander Mackenzie of the 4th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders was born in the Parish of Nigg and worked as a trapper at Lower Pitcalzean, Fearn. He died of his wounds on the 11th of March 1915 at Neuve Chapelle where there was heavy German shelling, the German Maxim machine guns also took a heavy toll on the Seaforths during their advance.
Alexander Mackenzie is buried and Remembered with Honour at the Estaires Communal Cemetery and Extension. No family details or age are recorded.
Royal Naval Reserve leading Seaman Donald MacKenzie was the son of William and Isabella MacKenzie and husband of Catherine MacKenzie of 5 Hugh Street, Balintore.
Donald was called up in 1914 with the rest of the Royal Naval Reservists from the Seaboard Villages. He was accidentally drowned in Barry harbour, South Wales, on the 26th of August 1918 while serving aboard the SS Gorsemore, a merchant ship due to take coal to Italy. [Royal Naval personnel were usually the gun crew on merchant ships.]
SS Gorsemore was torpedoed in the Mediterranean off the coast of Italy, however the crew survived.
Donald MacKenzie is buried and Remembered with Honour in Balintore Cemetery, he was aged 41.
John H. MacKenzie
Rifleman John Henry Mackenzie of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps was born in Fearn in 1887 and a prospector to trade, he had previous military experience pre war as a Seaforth Highlander volunteer for 3 years, he enlisted in London and died on the 10 January 1915 at Cuinchy.
The Cuinchy area is made up of low lying meadows in the basin of the Lys river. The clay sub-soil meant it didn’t drain and after rain and snow the trenches were waterlogged, so much so that the men standing in the trenches were relieved twice a day and soldiers reporting sick in the 1st Army during this time averaged 2,144 men a day.
The British launched an attack across the flooded area to recapture land lost earlier and, although it was a partial success, the area they gained was retaken by the Germans 2 days later.
John MacKenzie’s body was never recovered and he is Remembered with Honour on the Le Tournet Memorial.
Serjeant Simon Mackenzie 4th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders was the son of Mrs M. Mackenzie, of Mounteagle, Fearn, where he was employed as the shepherd.
He left with the Battalion to train at Bedford but with so many men camped in such close proximity, disease was rife [ a measles epidemic killed many especially from the islands and outlying areas of the north where the disease was rare ].
The Battalion left for France in early November 1914 and was almost immediately quarantined because of an outbreak of scarlet fever before they were eventually moved up nearer the front lines.
Simon Mackenzie died of pneumonia on the 6th of February 1915 and is buried and Remembered with Honour in Bethune Town Cemetery, he was 27 years of age.
Private George Macleod, 20th Battalion Canadian Infantry, son of James and Margaret Macleod of 1 Geanies Street, Tain, born in the Parish of Fearn.
George Macleod was working in the auto industry in Chicago, U.S.A. when he crossed over to Toronto, Canada, to join up to go to the war. He had pre war military experience as a private in the Seaforth Highlanders.
George was killed on the 28th August 1918 during the Battle of the Scarpe, during which Canadian Infantry Divisions spent 3 days of intense fighting, advancing 8 kilometres over rough, broken and furrowed land containing well fortified trenches before capturing an important part of the German Fresnes-Rouvroy defence system.
The total Canadian casualties for this period were 5,803.
George is buried and Remembered with Honour in the Vis-En-Artois British Cemetery, Haucourt. He was aged 34.
Private Martin Simon A. MacRae, 1st/6th Gordon Highlanders, was the son of Christopher and Barbara MacRae of Cadboll Mount, Fearn.
Martin MacRae was a Lovat Scout attached to the Gordon Highlanders, he was a Prisoner of War held in the Limburg Camp, Germany. The circumstances of his death are unclear, his date of death on the Commonwealth War Graves is given as 17th November 1918, while on the Scottish War Memorial it is given as 15th December 1918.
Rosie MacKay of Fearn relates that her father George Forbes, also Lovat Scouts and Gordon Highlanders, who was in the same Prisoner of War camp as Martin, told her that the war had finished and they knew they would be going home but they were starving, boiling up grass to make soup, however it was the same for the German people. One night Martin decided he was going out of the camp and was going to steal a hen and bring it back so they could all have something decent to eat. They all tried to talk him out of going as it was too dangerous and they would be going home soon but he couldn’t be swayed. He left the camp and they never saw him again. George was repatriated back to Britain and he kept expecting Martin to appear in Fearn until word came through to the MacRae family at Cadboll Mount that he was dead.
Martin MacRae’s body was returned from Germany to Brussels, Belgium, along with the bodies of 50 Canadian P.O.W.’s who had died in captivity. They were all interred and Remembered with Honour in the Brussels Town Cemetery. Martin was only 19 years old.
Lance Corporal Murdo MacRae, 1st/2 Lovat Scouts, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Duncan MacRae, of Lower Pitkerrie, Fearn. He saw service with the Lovat Scouts in Gallipoli and Egypt.
Murdo MacRae was killed on the 6th December 1916 during an attack on Tumbitsa, on the Greece/Macedonia Border.
The action included bridging the Virhani River before the attack on the town could proceed, the Turkish forces allowed the bridge to be completed and then opened up with heavy machine gun fire while the troops were crossing. The Lovat Scouts were told to clear the bridge and wade across the river, this they did, however they were then trapped under the river bank, such was the ferocity of the incoming machine gun fire that they were eventually forced to retire back across the river. To allow the reader to get an idea of how well defended Tumbitsa was, the position had still not been taken by the end of the war in 1918. The Lovat Scouts suffered 118 casualties at Tumbitsa- 28 killed and 90 wounded.
Murdo is Remembered with Honour on the Dorian Memorial, Greece. His age is not listed.
Seaman Hugh McAngus, son of Hugh and Jessie McAngus, of Hilton and husband of Christina McAngus, 3, Braefoot, Hilton.
Hugh McAngus was lost at sea on the 24th of November 1916 when H M Trawler Dhoon hit a mine and sank while on patrol in the English Channel off the coast of Yarmouth, Isle of Wight.
Hugh has no grave and is Remembered with Honour on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. He was 33 years of age.
Private Donald McDonald was the son of Don and Margaret McDonald of Cadboll, Fearn.
He was killed while serving with the 6th Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders on the 31st of July 1917, the first day of Passchendaele. The advance by British Forces was stalled by fierce German resistance and clinging Flanders mud, the 6th Seaforths saw heavy fighting in a location called MacDonald’s farm and a German counter attack saw British forces back at their original starting point with 70 percent casualties. William Ross of Balintore also of 6th Seaforths was also killed on this day in the same action.
Donald McDonald has no known grave but is Remembered with Honour on Ypres [Menin Gate] Memorial. He was 26 years of age.
Kenneth McRae DCM,MM and BAR
Company Sergeant Major Kenneth McRae, D.C.M., M.M. and Bar, 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles, was the son of Murdoch and Christina McRae, of the Commercial Hotel, Balintore, and husband of Anne [nee Ross] McRae of 7, New Street, Shandwick.
Kenneth McRae had emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1910 and was working in the construction industry in Casper, Wyoming. When war broke out he crossed into Canada and enlisted in the British Columbian Horse Regiment.
By December 1915 the Canadian Forces were in the front line in France and involved in bitter fighting at Ypres Salient, Sanctuary Wood, Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele.
Kenneth was awarded a Military Medal for bravery for an attack on Monquet Farm on the Somme on the 15th October 1916.
He was awarded a second Military Medal or Bar on the 18th May 1917 shortly after the battle for Vimy Ridge.
On the 10th of August 1918 he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the citation states.
“During the attack on Le Quesnoy, his company commander was killed early in the day. He at once took charge and carried on the advance until relieved by an officer. Later when the right flank was enfiladed by a hostile machine gun he himself worked round and bombed it. At another period, together with another man he charged and killed eight of the enemy who were firing on our men. His contempt for danger and organising ability were remarkable throughout and contributed largely to the success of the action”.
On the 26th August 1918 during the fighting for Orange Hill, east of Arras, he was Wounded in Action. The casualty report states.
“Died of Wounds [Gunshot wound, Fractured left leg]
He reached the objective with his company and about 5pm when taking shelter in a trench with 3 comrades, the position was shelled and he and his 3 comrades buried. They were immediately dug out, and Serjeant Major McRae, who was unconscious, was taken to No1 Casualty Clearing Station, where he died two days later.”
Kenneth had 3 brothers fighting at the front, Archie with the Canadians, Murdo and Ewan with the Seaforth Highlanders, Murdo also being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
He left a widow Anne and daughter Jessie, who he had only seen once while on leave in 1917.
Kenneth McRae is buried and Remembered with Honour in the Ligny-St. Flochel British Cemetery, Averdoingt, and on his parents stone in Balintore Cemetery. He was 27 years of age.
LIGNY- St.FLOCHEL BRITISH CEMETERY, AVERDOINGT, Circa 1919.
Anne McRae [nee Ross] and Jessie McRae.
Corporal Donald Morrison, 6th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, was the son of Mr. and Mrs Donald John Morrison, of Fearn Farm.
Donald Morrison was a policeman with the Ross-Shire constabulary, stationed in Invergordon, Cromarty and Evanton before he joined the local regiment.
He was killed during the Battle of Arras when shell fire exploded close by, killing him and 2 of his comrades on the 23rd April 1917.
Donald’s body was not recovered and he is Remembered with Honour on the Arras Memorial. He was 28 years of age.
Private Donald Munro was born at Locheye, Fearn, on the 7th of April 1892, one of 9 children to Donald and Margaret Munro [nee Lang]. Donald enlisted in the 4th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders along with his brother James [see below] in 1914, he later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and was Killed in Action on the 10th of April 1918 at Pozieres. Another brother Thomas also served in the Machine Gun Corps, but survived the war.
Donald was married to Christina Sutherland on the 28th of February 1915, they had one son, also Donald, an only child, born at Aldie Farm, Tain, on the 13th July 1915, who would go on to serve in the Royal Air Force in the Second World War attaining the rank of Warrant Officer.
Donald has no known grave and is Remembered with Honour on the Memorial at Pozieres British Cemetery. He was 26 years of age.
From information supplied by his nephew Mackenzie MacAndie
Lance Corporal James Munro 1/4th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders was the son of Donald and Margaret Munro, North Glasstullich, Tain. He was born at Locheye, Fearn.
James enlisted in 1914 with his brother Donald [see above].
James died of wounds on the 28th October 1918 and is buried and Remembered with Honour in the Auberchicourt British Cemetery. He was 24 years of age.
Private Walter Munro, 47th Battalion, Canadian Infantry, son of James and Helen Munro of North Cadboll, Fearn. He was born in April 1888 in Inverness.
Walter was working as a Carpenter in British Columbia, Canada, before joining up on the 16th of June 1915 at Vernon, British Columbia. He was 5ft. 10inchs tall, had light brown hair, blue eyes and fair complexion, he was also a Presbyterian.
Walter was Killed in Action on the 16 September 1916 during an attack South West of Eloi, he is buried and Remembered with Honour at the Ridge Wood Military Cemetery.
Serjeant Robert Oliver, 2nd Battalion Cameron Highlanders was the son of Mr. and Mrs George Oliver, of Telford Street, Inverness, and husband of Margaret Oliver, of Rose Bank, Invergordon. A career soldier, he was already in the Cameron Highlanders when war broke out and is listed in the Ross-Shire Roll of Honour as being from Hill of Fearn.
Robert Oliver died of wounds on the 12th of October 1916. He was part of the British Salonika Force that had repelled the Bulgarian invasion of Greece and had started to make advances along the Struma River.
Robert is buried and Remembered with Honour in the Lahana Military Cemetery, Greece. He was 27 years of age.
William John Robertson
Major William John Robertson of the 4th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders was the son of John Robertson of Rhynie and Mounteagle, Fearn and husband of Williamina H. Robertson and father to an only son.
William Robertson was the proprietor of the farm estate of Mounteagle and also a Justice of the Peace. He had joined the Seaforth Territorial Battalion as a private and worked his way up to eventually command A Company from Tain when war was declared.
On the 10th of March 1915 he was leading his Company out of the trenches at Neuve Chapelle to attack the German trenches when a shell exploded overhead killing and wounding everyone close by, William Robertson died of his wounds later the same day.
The Seaforth’s attack on Neuve Chapelle was a partial success, they overran the enemy trenches and took the town and held it overnight before heavy enemy artillery shelling forced a withdrawal. The Battalion suffered 150 casualties during the action.
William Robertson was 46 years of age when he died and is buried and Remembered with Honour in the Pont-Du-Hem Military Cemetery, La Gorgue, France.
Private Alexander Ross, 7th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. D. Ross, Tower of Fairburn, Muir of Ord. Private Ross was a native of Meikle Rhynie, Fearn.
Alexander Ross was Killed in Action on Easter Monday the 9th April 1917 on the first day of the Battle of Arras. The 9th of April was a great success for Allied Forces with all objectives taken but casualty numbers were high, the Canadians had 9,000 dead and wounded in the taking of Vimy Ridge.
Alexander is buried and Remembered with Honour in the Ste. Catherine British Cemetery. He was 20 years of age.
Corporal Alister John Ross, 45th Battalion, Infantry, Australian Imperial Force was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander McAndrew Ross of Hilton of Cadboll.
Mr. Alexander McAndrew Ross, founded and was the first editor of the North Star, Dingwall.
Alister Ross had worked in Dingwall for C and J Urquhart, ironmongers, before emigrating to Australia, where he was employed by North Coast Co-operative Coy. in New South Wales, one of the biggest creameries in the world, Alister worked in the butter factory.
He volunteered for overseas service on 29th January 1915 and saw service in Gallipoli and Egypt before his Battalion moved to France. Alister was Killed in Action on the 22nd of August 1916, he had been wounded early in the fighting and was told to report to a medical station by an officer, but he stayed and later in the action was again wounded this time fatally.
Alister’s records show he went absent without leave over Christmas and New Year 1915/16 for 2 weeks in London or did he come home? He was 1 of 4 brothers fighting at the front, 1 also with the Australians and 2 with the Seaforth’s.
Alister is Remembered with Honour on the Villers- Bretonneux Memorial, his body was not recovered and at the time of his death he was 22 years of age.
Seaman Andrew [Sandy] Ross was the son of Andrew and Annie Ross, of 15, New Street, Shandwick, and the husband of Christina Ross and father of their son also Andrew, 3, Park Street, Balintore.
Andrew was one of the 81 men from the Seaboard Villages who were part of the Royal Naval Reserve at the outbreak of war and duly went on to serve in the Royal Navy.
While serving in Iraq Andrew was part of the crew of H.M.S. Dalhousie, which because of it’s deeper draft was moored at Basra harbour and used as a supply ship for the shallower drafted Gunboats to patrol up the Euphrates River.
Andrew died of sunstroke on the 1st of July 1916. He is Remembered with Honour in the Basra War Cemetery. He was 43 years old.
We have been unable to find a Commonwealth War Grave for Serjeant Donald Ross from the Fearn Parish.
Anybody with any information about Donald Ross please let Seaboard History know.
Private Duncan Ross, 8th Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders was the son of Alexander and Isabella Ross, of Steel Cottage, Hill of Fearn. One of six brothers who were all at the front during the conflict, another brother was to be Killed in Action and two were to win the Distinguished Conduct Medal for Bravery.
Two soldiers from Fearn were killed on the same day during the same attack, they were Private William MacKay and Signaller Duncan Ross both of the 8th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders. Their bodies were sadly not recovered after the battle.
On the 22nd of August 1917 the 8th Battalion Seaforths were deployed to attack the enemy trenches on the Passchendaele Ridge. Their objectives were the German held trenches known to the British as, “Beck House and Iberian Trench”. These positions had been attacked recently and unsuccessfully by the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers with a large amount of casualties sustained.
The Seaforth’s went over the top early in the morning but by 7.30am they were back in their own trenches after being driven back by the enemy, except for ‘B’ Company who had managed to slip between the two trenches but were cut off.
124 Seaforths were killed during the day, some in the attack, others by sniper fire and artillery shelling after they were back in their positions.
It was too dangerous to recover the bodies of the dead in No Man’s Land and it was weeks before this was done. Some bodies were unidentifiable and many unable to be found because the weeks of shelling had buried them.
Duncan Ross is Remembered with Honour on the Tyne Cot Memorial, he was only aged 19.
Edward H. Ross
Lance Corporal Edward Hardcastle Ross, was born at Creich, Sutherland in 1883 and was the son of John and Jane [nee Mackay] Ross, who farmed at the Loans of Rarichie.
Edward joined the Lovat Scouts in 1906 and served until 1913, he re-enlisted in the Scouts in February 1914 and was deployed to France with the Cameron Highlanders [ 10th Lovat Scouts].
Illness seems to have blighted his military service, in November 1915 he’s treated for jaundice, and then, after his regiment were moved to operations in Salonika, in June 1916 for sand fly fever, in January 1917 for pleurisy and, while being sent back to Britain, in May 1917 for pleurisy again in Malta. On arrival in Britain he was sent to the Bermondsey Military Hospital, Ladywell Road, London, where, on the last day of October 1917, he was classed as no longer fit for service with tuberculosis of the lung. Sanatorium treatment was required as the infection was “permanent 100% due to exposure and infection as a result of service in this present war”.
Edward Ross died on the 15th February 1919 from his illness, his military records list him as being of very good character.
Edward is interred and Remembered with Honour in the family grave in Balintore Cemetery. He was 36 years old.
Private James Ross, 1st Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, was the son of Mr. and Mrs A Ross, of Steel Cottage, Fearn; one of six brothers in the armed forces during World War 1, another was also killed.
James Ross was wounded while on service in both France and Mesopotamia before being Killed in Action on the 13th June 1918 in Palestine.
His body was not recovered and he is Remembered with Honour on the Jerusalem Memorial; James was aged 23.
We have been unable to find a Commonwealth War Grave for a John Ross, Royal Naval Reserve from the Fearn Parish. We have two John Ross’s from the Seaboard Villages on the Naval List for 1915.
John Ross- 9, Park Street.
John Ross- 8, Lady Street.
Anybody with any information about John Ross please let Seaboard History know.
Peter M. Ross
Private Peter McLeod Ross, 4th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, was born in 1894 and was the grandson of Peter McLeod, Shoemaker, Hill of Fearn.
Peter Ross died after the war had finished on the 26th of January 1921, possibly of wounds.
He is interred and Remembered with Honour in the family plot in Fearn Abbey Churchyard.
Serjeant Robert Ross, 154th Machine Gun Corps. [Infantry], ex Seaforth Highlanders.
Robert Ross was a native of Portmahomack, who had been at the Front since November 1914 with the Seaforth Highlanders, he was transferred to the Machine Gun Corp at some stage of his service. [at the start of the war each Battalion had their own machine guns but it soon became obvious that the way the war was being fought, more and more machine guns were required and the Machine Gun Corp was formed].
Robert had fought through severe engagements during his time in the trenches and had come through unscathed, his Commanding Officer said “he lived a charmed life.”
In 1916, while on leave, he married Isabella Ross from Balintore and was living at 1, Bank Street in the village.
On the 15th of August 1916, Robert was Killed in Action leaving a wife of 2 months and an unborn son. His son, also named Robert, was to be lost at sea during his service with the Royal Navy in the Second World War.
Robert is buried and Remembered with Honour in the Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres.
Robert Ross, at back, marked with cross, smoking a pipe.Thought to be at Bedford.
Isabella Ross and son Robert, who was lost at sea in the Royal Navy near the Faroe Islands in World War 2
William J. Ross DCM.
Picture courtesy of Jonathan Collins.
Serjeant William John Ross, 1st Battalion, Scots Guards, D.C.M., was the son of Donald Ross and Jemima Munro Ross and had 3 sisters Betsy, Elsie and Bella.
William Ross was born at Ord in the Parish of Rosskeen on the 10th of September 1891, his parents had married in Fearn in 1884. His father, Donald, was a farm worker and as happened at that time moved from farm to farm, working at Clay of Allan, Fodderty, Rhynie, Fearn and Rhynie, Aberdeenshire. William worked as a railway clerk in Elgin before joining the police force in Kilwinning, Ayrshire.
William enlisted in October 1914 and went to France in April 1915, he was wounded at the Battle of Loos on the 27th September 1915 and on recovering re-joined his Battalion.
From then on William was in the thick of the fighting, receiving the Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery during the fighting near Moyenneville and Hamelincourt on the 21st to 23rd of August 1918, the citation in the London Gazette states;
“For exceptional gallantry and resource. When the difficulties of an attack were greatly increased by intense fog, gas shells and counter-barrage, this N.C.O. acting as Company -Sergt. -Major, rendered the greatest service to his officers by the wonderful example and untiring energy which he displayed, and which had the most inspiring effect on the men of his company”.
He was Killed in Action on the 15th October 1918, while leading a patrol, he was hit by a machine gun bullet and died instantly.
William is Remembered with Honour in the Carnieres Communal Cemetery Extension, where he was laid to rest on the 22nd October 1918 at 3.30pm, with his commanding officer in attendance and the pipers playing a lament over his grave. He was 27 years old.
Private William Ross, 6th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, was the son of Alexander [Harbour Master, Balintore] and Isabella Ross, Balintore.
On the 31st of July 1917 the 3rd Battle of Ypres began, also known as Passchendaele, The assault had been requested to take the pressure off the French Army in a different part of the line.
The 6th Seaforths began their attack at 5.30 in the morning, their task to drive forward from the slopes of the Pilkem Ridge to their final position, securing the bridgehead over the Steenbeck stream.
The whole area had been constantly shelled and the clay soil was churned up and the drainage system smashed, add the heaviest rain in 30 years and the land turned into a quagmire, thick mud clogged rifles, tanks became stuck and within a few days soldiers and horses were drowning in the mud and water filled shell holes.
The advance slowed down due to both the German defences and the Flanders mud resulting in the advance stuttering to a halt at an area called MacDonald’s Farm, due to machine gun nests hidden in ruined buildings and also snipers, Alexander Edwards of 6th Seaforth’s was awarded a Victoria Cross for his attempts to clear these machine gun nests and the taking out of one particular sniper who was having great success in killing Seaforth’s. Donald McDonald of Cadboll also 6th Seaforths was also killed on this day in the same action.
The Germans launched a counter attack at 3.30pm and the British were forced back to their original starting point with casualties rising to 70 percent of all participating forces.
By the time Passchendaele was over in November the British/Allied casualties numbered nearly 245,000.
William Ross was killed on the 31st of July 1917, the 1st day of Passchendaele, his body was never recovered and he is Remembered with Honour on the Ypres [Menin Gate] Memorial. He was 22 years of age.
Fireman Hugh Skinner, Mercantile Marine Reserve, was the son of Alexander and Annie Skinner, of 6, Back Street, Hilton.
Hugh Skinner died whilst serving on board the converted liner, H.M.S. Laurentic, [a pre war passenger liner plying it’s trade between U.S.A./Canada, which, for war purposes, was converted to an armed auxiliary cruiser]. The Laurentic had become famous before the war as the ship that had been used to catch the notorious murderer Dr. Crippen. It was the first time radio had been used to ascertain whether a criminal was on board a ship and then using a faster ship to get ahead of that ship and apprehend the suspected criminal when the slower ship docked at it’s destination].
H.M.S. Laurentic hit German mines 2 miles off Lough Swilly, Donegal, Ireland, on the 25th of January 1917.
One of the mines destroyed the engine room killing most engine room officers and ratings, the ship sank in an hour. There were gale force winds with snow showers and many of the crew died of hypothermia in the lifeboats; only 121 of the 475 strong crew survived.
Hugh Skinner is buried and Remembered with Honour in a mass grave with 63 of his fellow crew in the Upper Fahan [ St. Mura’s ] Church of Ireland Churchyard, Co. Donegal, Ireland. He was 25 years old.
William Hugh Skinner MM
Lance Corporal William Hugh Skinner, M.M. 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, was the son of Andrew and Jessie Skinner of Halkettshall, Limekilns, Fife.
Although brought up in Fife, his mother, Jessie Mackay, was from the Parish of Fearn.
Awarded the Military Medal for bravery, William Skinner was killed on the 19th December 1917. He is buried and Remembered with Honour at Etaples Military Cemetery, William was 36 years old.
David T. Souter
There does not seem to be a Commonwealth War Grave for a Private David T. Souter from the Fearn Parish, although the war certainly contributed to his death.
David T. Souter is listed on the 1901 census as being 4 years old, born in 1897, he is shown as being in 1 Lady Street, Hilton, with David Tarrel, Catherine Souter and John Paterson. he is listed as a grandson to the head of the house David Tarrel, Catherine Souter is his mother.
On his military records for 1918 his next of kin is shown as his father Alexander Souter, Rae Street, Regina, Canada. Alexander Souter in 1895 is listed as a salmon fisherman in 2 Lady Street, Hilton.
David’s occupation was a fisherman when he joined the Royal Garrison Artillery on the 24th of August 1914 in Cromarty aged 18 years and 1 month as a gunner, David was 5ft 11in, had blue eyes and brown hair and was a Presbyterian, he signed on for the duration of the war.
The Royal Garrison Artillery was usually based in Britain to protect harbours but was also used in France. David was based in Britain until December 1916 and then he went over to France, he served in France until January 1918 with 231 Siege Battery latterly in the Ypres area of Flanders.
In December 1917, David reported sick, his statement says for the first time in his life he was troubled by a cough and noticed at the same time that his energy began to fail, he was sent to hospital in Boulogne and in January back to England to Chester War Hospital with bronchitis, he never lost his cough and was returned to Gosport for light duties. In July 1918 he was back in hospital with tuberculosis of the lung, in August he was deemed 100 percent permanently unfit for Active Service and was dismissed from the Service, he was sent to a sanatorium in Fife. His records say his disability was due to his service in this present war and the the strain of Active Service causing the attack of tuberculosis. He was given a pension of 1 pound 7 shillings and sixpence which was stopped on the 4th February 1919 so we can assume he died around this time.
David’s Military character at his dismissal from the Service is given as “Very Good, a sober, steady and hardworking man”.
There was a family of Souter’s in the area, as this extract from the Ross-Shire Journal shows, we don’t if they are connected to David.
“On the 26th March 1915 the body of George Souter, farm servant, Ankerville was found on the railway line 200 yards from Nigg Station. The deceased was unmarked, aged 46 and had been in ill health for some time.”
William Sutherland, son of William and Annie McKay Sutherland and twin of sister Annie, 21 Shore Street, Hilton, was possibly the first man from the Seaboard Villages to be killed during World War 1.
William was a Stoker, 1st Class, on HMS Monmouth which was part of the British West Indies fleet. On the 1st November 1914 the British fleet met the German fleet off Coronel, Chile, the Germans ships were faster and had guns with a longer range.
The two main German ships, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau opened up at long range and were very accurate. One shell from the Gneisenau blew the front turret off the Monmouth causing the ammunition to explode. The Monmouth was severely damaged and began listing to port and was down by the bow. The German cruiser Nurnberg found the Monmouth unable to use her port guns because of the list, the Nurnberg illuminated the Monmouth’s colours hoping they would strike them and surrender but the Monmouth turned towards them and increased speed so the Nurnberg opened fire again and the Monmouth capsized, the entire crew of 678 were lost, there were sailors in the water but it was decided it was too dangerous to stop to pick them up.
William was 26 years old and has no known grave. He is Remembered with Honour on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
Private Hugh Urquhart of the 4th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders was from Lower Pitkerrie, Fearn. He was killed in action on the 9th of May 1915 at the Battle of Aubers Ridge. The Seaforth Companies led the attack on the German trenches, however even after 40 minutes of a heavy British artillery barrage on the German positions, the lead Seaforth Companies of Tain, Dingwall, Black Isle and Alness made hardly any distance at all before they were cut down by withering machine gun and rifle fire causing over 170 casualties.
Hugh Urquhart’s body was not recovered and he is Remembered with Honour at the Le Touret Memorial. No family details or age are recorded.
Private Andrew Vass of the 1st Battalion Seaforth Highlanders was the son of Nicholas and Christina Vass of 1, Mid Street, Shandwick. He was killed on the 20th December 1914 at the Defence of Givenchy.
From dawn on the 20th December the Germans used heavy artillery and mortars to bombard the British lines, then at 9.00am they detonated 10 mines, each of 50 kilograms [110pounds] under the British trenches and followed that up with infantry attacks.
Andrew was 22 years of age when he died, his body was never recovered and he is Remembered with Honour on the Le Touret Memorial.
Royal Naval Reserve Seaman David Vass was the son of John and Christina Vass of 12 Bank Street, Balintore. He was one of the many Royal Naval Reservists who went to war from the villages in 1914 and was serving on H.M.S. Victory in the Naval Dockyard at Portsmouth when he died.
David died from influenza on the 14th December 1918, a strain of influenza struck worldwide, unusually in the spring and summer of 1918, however a more virulent strain struck again late in 1918 which seems to be the strain David died from. Worldwide it is thought between 50 to 100 million people died from these bouts of influenza.
David Vass is Remembered with Honour in Balintore Cemetery, he was aged 22 years.
Seaman John Vass, H.M.S. Otway, Royal Naval Reserve, was the son of Alexander and Helen Vass, of 8, New Street, Shandwick, and is listed as joining the Navy in 1914.
John Vass was killed when H.M.S. Otway was torpedoed near Rona, North of the Butt of Lewis on the night/morning of the 22/23rd of July 1917.
Otway had been a passenger liner plying her trade between Britain and Australia/New Zealand before the war for the Orient Line. She was requisitioned by the Royal Navy for war work and converted into an armed merchant cruiser.
From a crew of 365, only 10 were killed, John Vass being one but six came from the Isle of Lewis, so close to home.
John Vass has no known grave but is Remembered with Honour on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. He was 24 years of age.
Private Kenneth Vass, 2nd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, son of David and Catherine Vass, Balintore and husband of Helen Vass of 3 Mid Street, Shandwick, was killed in action on the 4th October 1917. His Battalion were taking part in the Battle of Broodseinde, east of Ypres, it was the last Battle of Passchendaele.
The 2nd Battalion Seaforth’s left their trenches at 6am but due the amount of lying water could not take the advised route and the leading companies got caught up in the British rolling barrage. After taking their first objective the Battalion then ran into heavy machine gun fire which caused many casualties.
Kenneth Vass was a fatality amongst the 457 casualties sustained by 2nd Seaforth’s in this action, he is buried and Remembered with Honour in the Cement House Cemetery, he was 34 years old.
James Roderick Watt
Pioneer James Roderick Watt was the son of James and Christina Watt of Hilton Schoolhouse, Fearn. His father was the Headmaster of Hilton School.
James was born in Fearn on the 8th February 1895, he was educated at Invergordon Academy, where he was Dux in Mathematics in 1913, he went on to Aberdeen University to study Medicine. He enlisted in ‘ U ‘ University Company of the Gordon Highlanders in April 1914. When he signed up he was 19 years and 2 months old, his height was 5ft. 3 and 1/8 inches and he weighed 9 stone, he lived at 61 Watson Street, Aberdeen.
Although he trained with the Gordon Highlanders Battalion at Bedford, he was left behind when the Gordon’s crossed to France, possibly because of his age. During his time in the United Kingdom he was to act as a Special Guard on the Clyde and also as a Medical Orderly in Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow.
In late 1915 James Watt transferred to the Special [ Gas ] Brigade, Royal Engineers, and went to France in early 1916. He was Killed in Action during the Battle of the Somme on the 30th of June 1916.
He is buried and Remembered with Honour at the Carnoy Military Cemetery, he was aged 21.
Headmaster of Hilton School and father to James Roderick Watt.
In the research for this project other information about soldiers and sailors who were either from or had connections with the Seaboard Villages and the Fearn Parish came to light, some who survived the war and others who didn’t, but are mentioned on other War Memorials.
A. M. Corbett
Lance Corporal A. M. Corbett from Rhynie, Fearn, went to France with 4th Seaforths in February 1916. He was wounded in Battle of Arras, and, after recovering, he was posted East. The ship he sailed on was torpedoed but he was rescued and then he was involved in a train smash, he also survived that. He arrived in Mesopotamia only to be hospitalised with an attack of fever, when he was released from hospital he was wounded again in action. His brother, H. Corbett, is also serving with the Seaforths.
Dickie the horse
Dickie the horse belonged to the Commercial Hotel and was used to pull the cart to Fearn Station to collect the barrels of beer. When he wasn’t working he was tethered at Park and would graze on the grass there, Margaret Thomson [ nee Allan ] told the story that Dickie used to escape from Park and charge through the village at full speed, children having to be pulled out of his way as he went, he also used to eat the flowers out of the window boxes on the houses and worst of all for Margaret, he would drink from the rain water barrels outside the houses, it was the only water they had and was used for cooking and drinking. Margaret said you couldn’t blame the horse, Dickie had been to the front in World War 1 and you could see the madness in his eyes. Barbara Vass [Babsie Tom] said that when her and her sister were running along the road, her sister being older and faster was a way in front, Dickie jumped over her shoulder to catch up with her sister, he liked to be in front, they stood behind a fence until Dickie got fed up and went back to the grazing in Park.
When Dickie went for the barrels of beer to Fearn Station he would go past Fearn hotel without a second look but on the way back he would pull up at the hotel, without any bidding, knowing the driver always stopped for a drink. Drink driving laws weren’t so strict then.
George Forbes, the son of cattleman John Forbes, Cullisse, was a Lovat Scout when war broke out, he was later moved to the Gordon’s, George was wounded in France in April 1917, and later became a Prisoner of War in Germany.
His daughter, Rosie MacKay of Fearn, remembers him telling her that he reported for duty at Beauly when war broke out but was send back to the farm so that the cattle could be made ready to go to Smithfield Market in London in time for Christmas, the Germans would have to wait, the cattle were more important, he was then told report back to Beauly on New Year’s day 1915, he made the journey in heavy snow.
Rosie also tells George’s story of how the Prisoners of War in Germany were starving, when they were released they were brought back through The Netherlands but the Dutch were starving too so there was no food to be had there either. The men were put on a ship to Margate but nobody in Margate knew they were coming so there was nothing for them there either. They were given rail passes and told to go home, George’s travel warrant was from Margate to Nigg Station, when he arrived at Nigg the porter said what are you doing here, you’re family have moved from Cullisse to Doncaster. George got on board the next south bound train heading for Doncaster, he slept through Doncaster and was woken up further south by a ticket collector, he was told to get off at the next station and get the train back to Doncaster, the ticket collector also wanted to charge him for the trip from Nigg to whatever the next station was and back to Doncaster as his travel warrant didn’t cover it.
George’s son Henry was Killed in Action at El Alamein in World War 2.
James Forbes, brother of George, also started in the Lovat Scouts before being moved to the Gordon’s. He was invalided home after months in the trenches suffering from pleurisy.
David and George MacKay were sons of Mr. and Mrs. D. MacKay, Lower Pitkerrie, another son William was Killed in Action in 1917.
David MacKay, a farm worker, enlisted in February 1915 with 2/4th Seaforths, he was serving with 7th Seaforths when he survived been gassed in March 1918.
George MacKay, also a farm worker, enlisted when he came of age but luckily the war ended while he was still in basic training.
Donald MacKenzie, born 19th August 1895 and lived at 15 Bank Street, Balintore, his parents were William and Eliza MacKenzie. Donald was member of the Royal Naval Reserve and was called up when the war started. The Navy discovered they had more men than ships, so Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, decided the extra men could be trained in using field artillery, although training was minimal, and used to protect harbours in France and Belgium. The seamen were made up into different Battalions named after famous naval admirals, Donald was a member of Hawke Battalion and was used in the defence of Antwerp. The German’s attacked Antwerp and, after a month long siege, it became obvious British forces were not going to be able to hold out, the Royal Navy had no ships available to extract the defenders so only 2 options were available, surrender, or march the men to neutral The Netherlands. The second option was taken and the Naval personnel crossed the border in October 1914, once there they were unable to leave until the war had finished. The Dutch set them up on land in Groningen where the sailors built wooden huts for accommodation, in all around 1500 men were living on the site for 4 years, the sailors called their new home H.M.S. Timbertown. Donald was twice allowed home on leave during the years of captivity and his character listed on his record on the 31st of December of each year was ‘Very Good Superior’.
Serjeant R MacKenzie, Canadian Camerons, son of Mr. and Mrs MacKenzie, Rhynie, Fearn, emigrated to Canada around 1911, he arrived in France in February 1916 and was wounded in the left arm on 26th October 1917 and was hospitalised in Birmingham.
William John MacKenzie
William John MacKenzie was born at Ankerville, Nigg, in 1896, the son of John and Johan MacKenzie. He was in South Africa when war broke out and joined the South African Scottish. William was taken prisoner at Trones Wood, France, on the 10th of July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. South African forces suffered many casualties and had soldiers captured during this hard fought battle. William died of disease at Hammelburg prisoner of war camp, Germany, on the 19th of October 1916, he was 20 years old. William is buried in Le Cateau Military Cemetery, France, which was laid out by the Germans and contains over 500 Commonwealth graves and over 5000 German graves. William John was the brother of Christina Taylor [nee MacKenzie] who lived in Ross Crescent, Balintore.
Finlay Macleod was born at Balnabruich, Nigg, on the 19th of January 1899, the son of Hugh Vass Macleod and Catherine MacKenzie. In 1916 he ran away from home and joined the Fife and Forfarshire Yeomanry, being too young to serve in France, he was posted to Dublin just after the 1916 Irish Easter Rising against British Rule and being a Gaelic speaker understood what was being said by the Irish people around about him and what a dangerous situation Ireland was in.
However Finlay survived Dublin and when he came of age he was moved to France, the Fife and Forfarshire Yeomanry were turned into the 14th Battalion of the Black Watch, a crack shot from his days on Nigg hill hunting rabbits he became a sniper. One of the stories he told his daughters Mary and Phyllis was while on a long march they sheltered in a cellar in a town that had been shelled and discovered it was full of wine, sore heads for the rest of the march.
The family received the dreaded telegram ” missing presumed killed ” but Finlay being a sniper had found himself cut off behind enemy lines after a German advance and took a while to work his way back to the British lines, it was during this time he went to sleep in a shell hole in a wood and when he awoke he discovered he had been sleeping on German bodies with just a thin covering of soil over them.
In October 1918 he was wounded by shrapnel in his right leg and was treated in a Chateau being used as a hospital, they tried to feed him tomatoes, but as he’d never seen them before he refused, Finlay was moved back to Britain to recover and very soon after the war ended. His brother George also served in the Royal Naval Reserve Trawler Section.
After the war Finlay had his own plumbing business, travelling widely by ship around the west coast and islands to work, in 1933 he married Catherine MacKenzie and they resided in Balintore with they’re 2 daughters.
Fife and Forfar Yeomanry WW1, Finlay Macleod, back,second left, as viewer looks.
14th Battalion Black Watch WW1, Finlay Macleod, 4th row from back, 3rd in from right, as viewer looks.
Finlay Macleod, Fife and Forfar Yeomanry, sitting left, as viewer looks.
John McAngus of 15 Shore Street, Hilton, was also interned in the Netherlands [see Donald MacKenzie, David Vass] at H.M.S. Timbertown after the march from Antwerp. He was the son of Alexander and Christina McAngus and 3 brothers were also in the navy, Dan, William and Alexander. He was sent home for 4 weeks leave twice, one starting the 29th December 1916 and the next on the 17th June 1918. In March 1915 he was absent without leave for 16 hours from the camp but was returned drunk and disorderly by the civil authorities, he lost 3 turns of pay, 3 turns of leave and was given 3 days in the cells, but his character is listed as very good to superior for 3 of the years of internment, for 1915 it’s only good to superior.
Murdo McRae DCM
Murdoch and Christina McRae of the Commercial Hotel, Balintore, had 4 sons fighting in France, the eldest Kenneth was Killed in Action in 1918 with the Canadians.
Archie, was also in action with Canadian Forces but towards the end of the war he seemed to travel round villages in France, when able to, looking for his other 2 brothers, he sent postcards back from these villages to his future wife Christina MacPherson, on one postcard he writes ” this village reminds of Shandwick, not even a hen is let out on the Sabbath”. Archie did not go back to Canada after the war, he stayed in Balintore to run the Commercial Hotel, he died in 1937.
Murdo was a butcher to trade in Invergordon, he joined the Seaforths while still under age. At some point he transferred to the Machine Gun Company and on the 26th July 1917 was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the citation states:
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. he fought his machine gun with great gallantry and maintained his position against several enemy attacks.
He finished the war a Serjeant and for a short time had a butcher’s shop in Hilton before going back to work with his brothers and sisters in the Commercial Hotel.
In World War 2, Murdo was in the Home Guard and Dougal MacAngus tells the story that Murdo used to patrol the cliffs between Shandwick and Nigg making sure the Germans didn’t invade and also hoping to attack German submarines coming to the surface at night to recharge their batteries, all with a Ross rifle and 4 rounds of ammunition. Murdo died in 1967.
Ewan McRae also enlisted in the Seaforths but as he was only born in 1899 he saw action late in the war and after the war had finished seemed to be stationed in Germany for a time.When he was demobbed he emigrated to the United States and worked in the car industry in Detroit, he died in 1978.
Seaforth Highlanders, Ewan McRae, sitting left as viewer looks.
Private Donald Morrison, 1/4 Seaforths, Ross Street, Tain, died of his wounds on the 24th October 1915, he had only been in France for 6 weeks. He was educated at Nigg Public School and was a butcher to trade working for Johnstone’s of Balintore.
Sutherland Munro MM
Sutherland Munro, although born in Rockfield, lived with his wife Janet at 4, Shore Street, Balintore, he served with 1st Canadian Division [Engineers], he was a lineman, connecting telephones, which was the work he did in Canada before enlisting. Sutherland was awarded a Military Medal for bravery in August 1917, the citation reads;
Sapper Munro set an example to the remainder of the linemen by his bravery and determination in maintaining communication under heavy shell fire.
His brother Roderick, also serving with the Canadians, was Killed in Action in 1916 as was his brother-in-law William Gordon Davidson, Gordon Highlanders, in 1915.
Sutherland had been 6 years with 4th Seaforths, Territorial Battalion, before going to Canada and, according to his attestation papers, had some very impressive tattoos on both arms.
Sutherland Munro with his wife Janet and his son also Sutherland
Alexander Ross DCM
David Ross DCM
Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Ross of Steel Cottage, Fearn, had 6 sons in the forces in WW1, 2 of which,
James and Duncan were both Killed in Action.
Alexander, the eldest, mobilised with the Seaforths in 1914 and re-enlisted for a second tour of duty in France.
Alexander was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal during the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917, the citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On a portion of the attack being held up by 3 hostile machine guns, he, together with 2 other men, rushed forward and captured 1 of the guns. He afterwards led his platoon against the other 2 guns and drove them back, thus allowing the advance to continue. his bold initiative and gallant action undoubtedly contributed to the success of the operation.
Wounded later in the war, he was treated and Bangour Hospital, Edinburgh, before returning to his wife and family in Burnside Cottage, Portmahomack. After the war he and his family emigrated to Canada.
William was with 1st Canadian Contingent and was wounded in November 1915, his wife resided at Rosenewton, Elgin.
David was with the Seaforths, and although wounded in September 1917, he returned to the front and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in August 1918, the citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty, on 31st August 1918. In a night attack on St. Servins Farm, he personally accounted for 6 men. 2 days later in protecting the flank of another battalion he led his section 200 yards up a trench full of the enemy, and secured the flank by his efforts. His leadership and control of fire of his men were of great value.
Kenneth, the youngest son, was in the Royal Navy.
David Ross, Seaforths, from Fearn, front left, as the viewer looks at it.
Andrew Ross [Dauyan]. Royal Naval Reserve, 1 of 3 Andrew Ross’s from Shandwick on the Royal Navy’s list in 1914. Andrew survived the war and lived at 16, New Street, Shandwick.
Andrew Ross [Reeda] Balintore, is at the back, right, as the viewer looks at the picture.
This picture is thought to be of sailors from the Royal Naval Reserve, WW1, from the Seaboard villages, although only Andrew Ross has been identified.
Andrew Ross on the 1914 Naval list is shown as living at 14, Main Street, Balintore.
Andrew Ross MM
Serjeant Andrew Ross was from Lower Balaldie, Fearn, his occupation was a farm worker. Andrew was with the 4th Seaforths when they were first mobilised in 1914 and served in the trenches until 1918, he was wounded on at least 3 occasions and was awarded the Military Medal for bravery.
2nd Lieutenant David Ross, Worcestershire Regiment, was Killed in Action in France in September 1918.
Although brought up in Birmingham, his father Andrew McAndrew Ross, was a native of Hilton and was employed for many years in Invergordon Post Office.
He served in France from November 1915, obtaining his commission in May 1918. Before the war he was an apprentice with Alldays and Onions of Birmingham a motor engineering company.
David was 1 of 3 cousins to die in the war, 1 the son of Mrs. Jessie MacKay, Tain, and the other Alister Ross, son of Alexander McAndrew Ross of Hilton of Cadboll, while 3 others were badly wounded, 2 so severely they had to be discharged from duty.
Findlay McFadyen Ross MC
Finlay McFadyen Ross was born 1893 in Moukden, Manchuria [China], the son of the Reverend John Ross and his wife Isabella Strapp McFadyen. The Reverend John Ross was a Missionary for the U. F. Church and was born just outside the Seaboard villages in what is now called Eygpt House. While in China, John Ross translated the bible into Korean, and although never setting foot in Korea he revered by Christians in that country for bringing them their religion.
Findlay was sent from China to be educated at George Watson’s School in Edinburgh and from there on to Edinburgh University to study forestry
When war broke out he joined the 1/9 Royal Scots [ ‘the Dandy Ninth’ ] as a private and went to France with his Battalion in September 1914. As a Lance Corporal he was wounded in June 1915 and then returned to Britain to be commissioned as an officer, this he duly was on the 23rd October 1915 and he returned to France.
He was severely wounded on the 16th November 1916 when he assumed command of a raid and led ‘a wild charge’ against the enemy, he also brought back the body of 2nd Lt. A.H. Douglas who had been killed in the attack, Findlay was awarded the Military Cross for his actions.
After his wounds healed he returned to France where he rejoined his Battalion, which were now part of the 15th Scottish Division. The German’s launched their 1918 spring offensive and the 1/9 Royal Scots were in action to halt these attacks and eventually to counter attack, an action which would bring the war to an end. On the 1st of August 1918, as an Acting Captain, Findlay was killed as he led his men on the Margin’s Assault during the Battle Of Soissonnais.
Findlay is buried at the Raperie British Cemetery, Villemontoire, France, he was 25 years old.
John Ross was from Shandwick, born on the 2nd August 1899, he went on to serve with the 2nd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders during WW1.
After the war he emigrated to Australia where he died on the 11th May 2004 at the age of 104.
The Saluting Dias for the annual ANZAC Day commemorations in Hinchinbrook Shire, Queensland, is named after him.
Donald Skinner of 12 Main Street, Balintore, joined the Seaforths in 1906 at the age of 18, he was a mason to trade, was 5ft. 8inchs tall with fair hair, dark grey eyes and had a blue tattoo on his left thumb.
He served with the 1st Battalion on the North West Frontier in India.
On the 23rd of December 1914, Donald was in a trench at La Bassee in France, when, during a German attack, he was shot in the back of the head, left side. He was taken to hospital in Boulogne, paralysed in both legs and right arm and from Boulogne back to Britain and hospital in Chelsea. He was treated until February 1916 when he was sent back home to Balintore completely unfit for active service. He is also listed as totally incapacitated for any work in the general labour market.
His brother Charles also served in France as a farrier.
Private Donald Skinner, Balaldie, Fearn. Donald mobilised with 4th Seaforths in 1914, his occupation is given as a fireman, after his time was out he re-enlisted. He married Isabella MacIntosh of Bridge Street, Inverness, in November 1916, before returning to the front.
Jack Skinner of 4 Shore Street, Balintore.
William Skinner was born in 1874 at Shore Street, Balintore, to David [Davack] and Jessie Skinner. Like many from the Seaboard villages he joined RNR, No. C2335, in 1902.
HMS. Triumph, at Tsingtao.
He was called up in August 1914 and by October 1914 he was in Hong Kong serving on HMS Triumph, this ship was seconded to the Japanese navy who were fighting the Germans at Tsingtao, a German enclave in China, and HMS Triumph assisted with the capture of the fortress at Tsingtao in December 1914.
William and Triumph were then sent from China through the Suez canal to help with the invasion at Gallipoli [Turkey], joining the Dardanelles fleet in February 1915. Triumph’s big guns were used in support of the landings at Gallipoli but in April 1915 she was torpedoed by a German submarine with the loss of 78 men. The survivors were picked up by HMS Chelmer, on which his younger brother George was serving, a family story is he could hear George calling him when he was in the water.
In September 1915 William joined HMS Patia which was a defensively armed merchant ship, he left the Patia in June 1917 [it was torpedoed in the Bristol channel in June 1918] and returned to HMS President 111, a shore base which supplied sailors/gunners to armed merchant ships. William was demobbed in February 1919 in Liverpool but continued to serve in the RNR until 1923, receiving his long service and good conduct medal.
George Skinner, younger brother of William, also served in the Royal Navy on HMS Chelmer.
Mr. and Mrs. Sutherland, Lochslin Cottage, Fearn, had 2 sons serving at the front. The oldest son David, a policeman in London before joining the Seaforths, he was wounded in November 1916, a gunshot wound to the right thigh, which he is recovering from in hospital in Aberdeen. Youngest son Alick went to France with the Seaforths in 1914 and after his time had expired he rejoined, before the war he was employed by Mr. Henderson, Marchmont Crescent, Edinburgh.
Their brother- in- law Allan Cameron was Killed in Action in April 1917.
David Vass was born at 1 Mid Street Shandwick on 12th June 1895, his mother was Christina. A member of the Royal Naval Reserve, he also, see Donald MacKenzie, found himself stuck in The Netherlands after Antwerp in H.M.S. Timbertown. David was a member of Hawke Battalion and was allowed home leave from H.M.S. Timbertown on the 12th December 1916 to the 29th December 1916 and then again from the 25th January 1917 to the 22nd February 1917.
Donald Vass, newspaper article.
Robert Wood [Robba Cha]
‘Robba Cha’ of Fyfe Cottage, Hilton, was to survive World War 1.
There were other photographs which we have little information about but are of interest.
Lovat Scouts 1914- 18.
Lovat Scouts 1914-18.
Lovat Scouts’ Camp at Fearn.
Akbar Rovers 1914/18. Though to be taken in Invergordon.
The Bing Boys, 33rd I.B.D.. B.E.F. 1914/18.
Submarines at rest in the Locks of the Caledonian Canal , WW1?
Seaforth Highlanders in either Bedford or France?
Lorry drivers, France ?, WW1.
Black Watch, Nigg Camp, WW1.?
Black Watch Pipe Band, Nigg Camp, WW1. ?
Black Watch, Nigg Camp, some very young, pipe band, WW1. ?
Seaboard Sailor ?. Initials G.J.S.
Murdo ?, cousin of Christine MacPherson, Balintore.
Seaforth Highlander from the Seaboard Villages ?, WW1.