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1st/5th Battalion Gordon Highlanders

List of casualties recorded in the Battalion War Diaries

The following lists of names were mainly copied from the Battalion War Diaries (WO 95 / 2880 - 2881 - 3061).   Most, but not all of the months that the Battalion was on active service are included. The casualty lists originally appear in the form of appendices at the end of each month's Diary.

I have transcribed the names in the order in which they appeared, rather than in alphabetical order.

As can be seen, in the early months, quite full descriptions of injuries were provided e.g. in September 1915 we learn that 2438, Henry Wallace, received a bullet in the biceps of his right arm and 2532, Corporal William Davidson, shot himself accidently in the left hand while cleaning his rifle.

Soon , unfortunately, there was no time for such full notes, which were replaced by a brief "wounded" or "killed" as the monthly casualty lists grew ever longer.

In some months the casualty list is no longer held with the Diary, for example July 1917. (Here at least I have been able to fill the gap using the casualty lists that appeared in the Scorsman.) A 'casualty' was regarded as a soldier who was not still with his unit and fit enough to perform his duty.  There were the obvious casualties - those men confirmed as having been killed and those known to have been evacuated with wounds.  Any other man not present at the roll-call was usually marked as 'missing' - a term that can be misleading. Such a man might be dead or he might be a prisoner, or he may have become separated from his unit and turn up some time later, after the entry was made.  As for the genuine 'missing', it could be many months, or even years, before their fate became known.

For example, a relative of mine, John Stuart Baird, who started out in the 5th Gordons but later transferred to the 2nd Battalion, was reported as missing on 26th October 1917.  In early December 1917 his name  appeared in the casualty lists of wounded in the Scotsman. (These lists usually appeared about six weeks after the death or injury occured.) A full year later, in October 1918, his mother received notification from 'official sources' that her son was a prisoner of war at Sennelager.  However, on 24/6/1919, a report in the Buchan Observer finally confirmed that Baird had died on or about 26th October 1917.  He is commemorated on the Tyne Cote Memorial to the missing.

Conversely, James G. Sim was reported missing presumed killed on 23rd July 1916, but later was "assertained to be prisoner of war at Sennelager, December 1918". (War Book of Turriff.) Follow this link to see numerous other such cases that were recorded in the Buchan Observer following the German Spring Offensive in 1918.

As with the Battalion Roll, only Rank, Number, Surname and Initial were used in the War Diaries.  Wherever possible I have tried to supply the full name of the soldier.

The medal cards for the Silver War Badge are useful sources of information. This badge was authorised in September 1916 and awarded to all of those military personnel who were discharged as a result of sickness or wounds contracted or received during the war, either at home or overseas. The card generally shows the date of enlistment and discharge, and the reason for discharge.


Above: The SWB card for Harry Rowbotham, wounded 31/7/1917 (gunshot wound to the thigh) and discharged because of those wounds on 24/12/1917. The accompanying certificate shows the Badge was issued a couple of weeks after his discharge. Paragraph 2 (Cause of Discharge) refers to classes of individual entitled to the badge and b(1) specifically to those "who, having served as soldiers and being still of military age have been discharged after service overseas in the armed forces of the Crown, on account of disablement or ill-health caused otherwise than by misconduct."

There was no official Battalion record for March 1918 as almost all the officers were killed, wounded or taken prisoner.  Consequently the information for this period has had to be obtained from alternate sources.

The Notes come from a variety of sources, but most frequently from:

The Casualty Lists

  May-October 1915          November - December 1915
  January - March 1916   April - May 1916
  June 1916   July 6th - 25th 1916
  July 26th - 29th 1916   July 30th-31st 1916
  August - September 1916   November 1916
  December 1916  
  March 1917   April 1917 
  May 1917  June 1917   
 July 1st - July 30th 1917  July 31st  - August 1st 1917 
September 1917   November 1917
 March 1918 (POWs)  December 1917
 March 1918 (Killed)   March 1918 (Wounded)
   June 1918
  July 1918  August 1918
  September - November 1918  


A number of newspaper reports on men missing, POWS or wounded between August 1916 and June 1918 are also available from Buchan Observer casualty notices. Many of these have not yet been added.  Please contact me with any inquiries.

Buchan Observer index of casualties following High Wood

Buchan Observer index of casualties following Beaumont Hamel

Buchan Observer index of casualties following Passchendaele



 Click on image to see 51st Highland Division Memorial at Beaumont Hamel

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Carolyn Morrisey