1st/5th Battalion  Gordon Highlanders
Casualties for the German Spring Offensive - March to April 1918 (B)

  Prisoners of war:

The following extract is taken from The Kaiser's Battle - 21st March 1918 : the First Day of the German Spring Offensive by Martin Middlebrook,  Allen Lane 1978:

Many thousands of the men who fought in March had become prisoners.  The badly wounded among them had a very hard time.  The German medical units were at full stretch and were hard put to it even to tend all their own wounded.  Several British soldiers who had been wounded tell how they were left out in the battlefield for several days but, with youth and strong constitutions, they survived.  Others, more seriously hurt, must have died slowly in the open before help reached them, and more died in the German hospitals.  The Germans were short of all medicines and food, and had only crepe-paper bandages.

For most of the unwounded prisoners, there was a long, hard march away from the battle area under the escort of guards who were never as considerate as the front-line Germans they had met on the battlefield.  The prisoners were usually channelled through tree towns - Guise, La Cateau and Cambrai. . .

After a week's hard marching, on the scantiest of rations and sleeping in fields by night, the prisoners were loaded on to trains and reached their permanent prison camps in Germany.  The 'other ranks' spent most of the remaining months of the war working hard for the Germans and being saved from starvation only by the food parcels supplied by the Red Cross.  After the war ended on 11 November, conditions in Germany were so confused that some of these prisoners were not able to return to their homes until after Christmas.   (pp. 352-354)

It is much harder to obtain information about prisoners of war than it is to find information about men who died.  The official figures indicate that almost 400 men from the 5th Battalion became prisoners during the first few days of the German attack (most on the first day).  On the following pages are the details of a few of these men.  Most of the information on Other Ranks is drawn  from The War Book of Turriff - as ever an invaluable source, and the Casualty Lists that appeared in the local Peterhead newspaper, The Buchan Observer.

The names of officers are taken from the book List of British officers taken prisoner in the various theatres of war between August 1914 and November 1918 : compiled from records kept by Messrs Cox & Cos enquiry office ... London.  London Stamp Exchange, c1988

Name                     Rank        Captured  Repatriated   Notes
McTaggart, M.F  Lt. Col  21/3/1918   -/12/1918  Commanding officer. Captured 21st March 1918 with the fall of Fresnoy Redoubt
Robertson, C.T.A   Major  21/3/1918   Captured with the fall of Fresnoy Redoubt on 21st March.  Died of wounds at a German field dressing station on 23rd March. (Photograph)
Kelly, A Captain  21/3/1918  29/11/1918  
Endson, W 2/Lieut 21/3/1918  29/11/1918  
Cruden, A 2/Lieut  21/3/1918  13/12/1918 Buchan Observer 7/5/1918 "Lieut Albert Cruden, prisoner and wounded, son of Mr L. Cruden, fishcurer, Fraserburgh, was previously reported killed in action." 
Chalmers, J.L 2/Lieut 21/3/1918 20/11/1918 

Buchan Observer 9/4/1918: " 2nd Lieut. John Chalmers, Gordons, has been officially reported as missing. He is the only son of Mrs Johm Chalmers of Rora, and grandson of Mrs James Cheves. Before enlisting as a private he was with an engineering firm in Aberdeen."
Buchan Observer 30/4/1918: " Mrs John Chalmers, Middleton of Rora, has been notified that her son 2nd Lieut John J. Chalmers, Gordons, lately reported missing, has been wounded in action and is a prisoner in Austria." 

Gordon, William 2/Lieut 21/3/1918  18/12/1918 Joined Battalion 19/12/1917. Repatriated 18/12/1918. On Exonerated Officers' List. Address Carsaig House, Carsaig, Isle of Mull. 
McPhail, A.G. 2/Lieut  21/3/1918 -/12/1918   Joined Battalion July 1917 
Murray, A.R 2/Lieut 21/3/1918  2/12/1918  
Mort, J 2/Lieut 21/3/1918 19/12/1918 Joined Battalion July 1917. Believed killed. Held at Rastatt and Graudenz POW Camps. Repatriated 19/12/1918
Hodgins, C.W 2/Lieut 21/3/1918  18/12/1918  
Henderson, G 2/Lieut 21/3/1918  13/12/1918  

Other Ranks POWs| A - L | M - RS - W |


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Carolyn Morrisey