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National Reservists
called up to
5th (1st Reserve) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders


 Another group of men listed in the Buchan Observer newspaper of 26th January 1915 are the National Reservists. These Reservists were generally but not exclusively, former soldiers, Militia or Territorials and most were aged 30 or over. They did not have to attend the annual camp as other Reservists were obliged to do. Their only obligation was an agreement to serve in time of national emergency. Initially their role, along with that of the Reserve Battalions was to guard railways and ports in order to release men for fighting units.

On December 9th 1914 the following announcement was placed in an Aberdeenshire newspaper:

Mobilisation Order

The following notice is being issued by the County Territorial Associations:-

The War Office has issued instructions to call all Class I and Class II national reservists under the age of 50 who have so far not made good the obligation undertaken in peace time to place themselves at the disposal of His Majesty the king in time of national emergency.
Your name is shown on the county register as A Class national reservist and there is no record of your having yet presented yourself for enlistment.
In accordance with the above mentioned War Office instructions, the county association do hereby call upon you to offer yourself for enlistment without further delay, and to enable you to do so you must sign one of the two forms A and B overleaf, and then enclose this letter in the addressed envelope sent herewith and post it. On receipt of the form duly signed further instructions will be sent to you.
You should not give up your present employment till you have been actually enlisted, when, if you wish it, you will be given three days' leave on full pay in which to arrange your affairs before joining the unit to which you are posted.

(Aberdeen Journal 9th Dec 1914)


As many of these men were relatively old, they did not serve overseas and so are hard to trace. The service records (WO363 and WO364) of a few exist and the main details are summarised below.

One man, William Cumming,  wrote about his experience as a National Reservist who was called for duty with the 5th (1st Reserve) Battalion in late 1914.
In December 1914 the War Office seemed to be aroused to the fact that a number of ex-soldiers, ex-Volunteers, and ex-Terriers, had signed "little scraps of paper", promising their services to their country in the event of necessity. Mere honourable undertakings these - no attestation, no swearing in, merely a promise to help King and country - and each man signing had the option of resigning "on sight".

What were our motives [for joining the National Reserve]. Many of us dearly loved to cuddle the stock of a rifle, to peer through the sights, press the trigger and look for a "bull". But long-distance shooting was only possible on military ranges - the fortnight's camp demanded of the "Terriers" barred us from joining - and the ammunition for practise was free to the National Reserve.
[National Reserve shooting clubs were very popular in pre-war days, and in Aberdeenshire there were weekly shooting competitions.)

We had all "done our bit" before, but there was no medical qualification, no age qualification, no nothing except that we had previously served at least three years.

The 28th December found many of us proceeding to Peterhead in answer to a gentle reminder that we had not yet fulfilled our "honourable obligations." A hefty lot we were, varying in age from thirty to fifty, just a little on the "wechty" [weighty] side.

Happy the man who had no wife and children to make his path of duty less clear. Home or country - which should have the first claim? ... To throw too heavy a burden upon the shoulders of one's partner in life by any deliberate action of your own, even for the sake of your countrymen ... requires justification. However, we had swallowed the camel and were now soldiers of the King; and at least we hoped that the action of the "old" boys would lessen the chances of our little chaps becoming conscript soldiers when they reached man's estate.

Our soldiering commenced on 5th January 1915. .. As to soldiering my time on the square was short - 25 days' service saw me a full blown C.Q.M.S - raw but willing.     William Cumming (War Book of Turriff p371)

WBT - War Book of Turriff
WO363 - Service Record
WO364 - Service Record (Pension)


 Number  Name                                              Town                                      Additional Information
    Cumming, William   Turriff Headmaster, New Byth Public School. 5th Gordons and R E. Company Q M S. Served Scotland and England. (WBT p.180 and pp.371-385) 
    Eddie, James   Turriff  
    Diverall, Charles  Bruce   Peterhead  
    Hutcheon, Albert   Turriff Farmer. Sgt in Volunteers and Territorials 1904 -1914. National Reserve  Aug - Dec 1914. Enlisted 28/12/1914. Commissioned  April 1915. Served with 5th Gordons. M.C for conspicuous bravery April 1917. Totally blinded May 1917.  WBT p.71 and WBT p.273)

  Blyth, William Frank

    Milne, Thomas   New Aberdour  
    Mitchell, James   Peterhead  
    Matthew, William   Fraserburgh  
    Wilson, William Robertson   Peterhead  
 2789   Bain, Robert   PeterheadEnlisted 28/12/1914. Age 34 Occupation - cooper. Various transfers. Eventually Labour Corps. Served at Home  until 1/3/11918. Address 1914- 1 Prince St Peterhead. Later York Street.  (WO363)
    McKay, John McKenzie   Peterhead  
    Simpson, John   Longside  
    Fraser, Charles William   Fraserburgh  
    Mutch, Andrew   Fraserburgh  
  2792   McRae, Charles   FraserburghEnlisted 28/12/1914. Age 45. Born New Pitsligo. Occupation - cooper. Wife Mary McRae 88 Charlotte St.Fraserburgh.  Transferred to Royal Defence Corps 1/9/1917. Discharged 29/3/1919 (WO363)
    Buchan, James   Longside  
    Hall, Herbert John   St Fergus  
  2795   McIntosh, George   Fraserburgh Enlisted 28/12/1914 age 38. Occupation - cooper. Wife Christina Sim. 5 children - 9 Duke St, Fraserburgh. Served overseas from 9/11/1916. Transferred to Labour Corp 1918 (WO363) 
    Carle, John   Strichen  
    Smith, Kenneth   Peterhead  
    Cadger, George   Peterhead  
    Rothney, Daniel   Peterhead  
    Buchan, James   Fraserburgh  
    Watt, William   Fraserburgh  
    Gray, James   Fraserburgh  
    Forrest, William   Peterhead  
    Aitchison, James   Fraserburgh  
    Johnston, Edwin   Fraserburgh  
     Davidson, Thomas Walker   Fraserburgh  
     Sutherland, John   Fraserburgh  
     Innes, James Reid   Fraserburgh  
     Duncan, Alexander   Fraserburgh  
  2846   Taylor, Robert Joseph   Fraserburgh Enlisted 6/1/1915. Age 35. Discharged 11/2/1915 "Required for duties". Wife Margaret Taylor 68 Gratton St, Fraserburgh. (WO364) 
     Wood, Alexander   Fraserburgh  
     Watson, James   Fraserburgh  
  2849   Ogston, William Mathison   Fraserburgh  
  2850   Brown, William  PeterheadEnlisted 6/1/1915. Age 41.Gas stoker.  Address 17 Queen St. Born Glasgow.  Trans. to No. 1 Observer Coy, Royal Defence Corps 30/6/1917. Discharged 16/2/1919. Wife - Jane Brown.    (WO363)
    McDonald, James   Peterhead  
    Ledingham, John James   Turriff  
    Innes, John   Turriff  
  2854   Alexander, George   TurriffOccupation -  Postman. Served- 5th GH & Signal Section RE 1915-1920. Served Scotland 1915-1916 ; England 1916-1918 ; North Russia 1918-1920. POW 1919-1920. Had 15 years service in GH as Volunteer and Territorial.  (WBT p.35)
  2855   Bower, Robert   TurriffEnlisted 6/1/1915.    Age 32. Wounded in right leg, La Bassee 12th April 1918.(WO364)  .Baker's confectioner. Served from 6/1/ 1915 - Scotland 18 months, England 1 month, France 18 months.  Served in South African War 1900 - 1902. Began as a drummer boy in Volunteers. Died of endocarditis as the result of military service and wounds at Craigleith Military Hospital, Edinbrugh, 26/7/1919. (WBT p.42) 

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