South African Campaign to World War 1 – Sgt A James

South African Campaign to World War 1 – Sgt A James.

The committee who decided what information should be on the Dallas, Morayshire, war memorial were considerate of the modern-day researcher. These thoughtful people included name, rank and regiment – such foresight to consider future researchers?

The man who caught my attention is Alexander James born on 10th February 1884. Alexander served as

Menin Gate
CWGC image

Sergeant 28590, in the battalion Canadian Infantry. He Alexander died on the 13th of June, 1916, aged 32 and remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres. The CWGC website includes Alexander’s regiment and place of remembrance. Also included are his parent’s names and where they lived. There is one other piece of information, making Alexander’s story more interesting.

What could this information be?

It is that Alexander served in the South African Campaign. The Imperial Yeomanry Records 1899-1902 are available from the National Archives. They are also available on Ancestry – Alexander’s Short Service Attestation is there. 

Alexander was 20 years and one month old when he signed to serve. Alexander was born in the parish of Speymouth near Fochabers, Morayshire, at the time of his enlistment he was working as a farm servant. Alexander had left home three years earlier – probably now living on or near the farm where he worked. He signed the papers in Inverness o the 4th of December 1901, before Colonel Shaw. 

If you walked down a street in Inverness or strode down Fochabers High Street, would you have recognised Alexander? Perhaps you would have done if I tell you that he was 5′ 8″ tall. He was quite well built, with an expanded chest of 39½”. Alexander had a fresh complexion, with dark brown hair and blue eyes. On his right forearm, he had the tattoed figure of a female plus a visible scar. 

Alexander was now part of the 1st Battalion Scottish Horse, Imperial Yeomanry, serving as Private (Trooper) 37478. Discharged the following September after serving in South Africa. After initially serving 37 days ‘At Home’. From the 11th of January 1902, 230 days in South Africa followed by a final seven days ‘At Home’ before discharge. His service ended with him awarded the Queens’ Medal and Claps and South African Medal plus claps. His next of kin was his father James James, who lived at Blackhills, Rafford by Forres. I wonder when I research a soldier from Morayshire if their paths cross of my Riach and Hay families, especially when there is a connection to a place – did they know each other? 

Alexander’s conduct while with the Colours had been ‘very good’. He signed his name – he was no longer in the army. His time in the Yeomanry came to an end. After this time in his life, he intended to live at Graus (sic), Burnside, Dipple, Fochabers.

How did Alexander end up serving with a Canadian Regiment?  

Sometime between his discharge from the army in 1902 and when he re-enlisted in 1914, he ventured abroad. I haven’t done in-depth research for his travel details, hence the broad spectrum. But he did end up there!

Alexander’s service records are available to research, unlike many British documents destroyed or damaged in WW2. The first page of his records confirms his two years service with the Scottish Horse. Also of three years with the Cameron Highlanders and eight years with the Royal Horse. It makes you wonder when he had time to work and then venture to Canada.

Alexander’s WW1 records duplicate the more general information or expand those details. One such example is that of Alexander’s tattoo. In his 1901 documents, the description is of a generic lady. Yet, in his WW1 documentation, the information is more detailed – an American or Mexican woman. Alexander had the tattoo in 1901 when he signed up for the South African Campaign. Why would a 17-year-old who, by then had not left his native Scotland, want to have this on his arm? One other descriptive snippet was that he had a mole on his right clavicle.  

On the 10th of August 1914, he attended the recruiting office in Victoria. On the 23rd of September, 1914, he was fit. Alexander was once again with the Colours. On enlistment, he was with the 19th Canadians, service number 28590, later with the 43rd Battalion, C.E.F. (Canadian Expeditionary Force).  

Alexander’s Will, extracted from his Pay Book, left all his property and effects to his mother, Jessie of Blackhills, Rafford.

In March 1916, Alexander received a G.S.W. (gunshot wound) to his left leg while on active service. After his time in hospital in the ‘at home’. He underwent a medical examination at Sandygate. After four weeks of physical training, he was to be fit.

There are so many pages to Alexander’s records, so many details and snippets of information I could continue to write for a long time. So I will highlight a few of the memorable times in his service.  

  • 8 February 1915 Promoted to Corporal while at sea.
  • 15 March 1915 Promoted to Sergent while in France.
  • 3 May 1915. Admitted to Military Hospital Colchester.
  • 15 July 1915. Discharged to furlough, Shorncliffe.
  • 28 July 1915. Reported from sick furlough, Shorncliffe.
  • 6 December 1915. Taken back on Strength, Shorncliffe.
  • 1 March 1916. Convalescent Hospital at Woodcote Park, Epsom. 
  • 24 March 1916. Taken back on Strength,
  • 24 May 1916. Reports to Folkstone from Epsom.
  • 6 Jun 1916. Transferred to 16th Battalion – Overseas.
  • 31 May 1916. Promoted to Sergent – in the Field.
  • 27 June 1916. Killed in Action.
  • 4 July 1916. The correct date of death amended to 13 June 1916
  • Alexander spent a total of 61 days in the hospital.

Alexander’s three medals and Memorial Cross went to his mother, Jessie. While James, his father, received the Plaque and Scroll.

Alexander’s papers, like nearly all other service records, are not in chronological order. Close to the end of the records is a ‘Statement of Case’ – a description of the events on the day Alexander received his G.S.W.

Completed by the Medical Officer.  

Alick James, formerly an Engineer. Disability – Shrapnel to Left Leg.

Date – 22 April 1915. Place – Ypres.

Statement – States he was charging with the 16th Batt. on night of 22nd Apl. When he was wounded in the left leg by shrapnel. Was in hospital until 14 July. The wounds having bee infected. Two pieces were said to have been removed, seven pieces to have been left in leg. State that leg swells badly whenever he does any walking, that he suffers considerable pain.  

Reasons for disability – Shrapnel fragments in leg.

What is his present condition? There are eight wounds on left leg (punctured(?)). The increased movements of knee normal, those of ankle slightly limited. The largest scar is adherent to underlying muscle and construction of soleus muscle causes pain.  

Change to England – Light Duty & operation.

Alexander, according to the Canadian War Graves Register, was attacking or being attacked near Zillebeke, Belgium – some 7 minutes drive from Ypres. Hence, him being remembered on Menin Gate Memorial.

The Morayshire Roll of Honour – JAMES, Alexander. No. 28590, 

Sgt., 16th Canadian Scottish ; born at Trochill, Speymouth, Morayshire, 10th Feb., 1884 ; joined in British Colombia, Canada ; served i n France ; wounded, April 14th 1915, and killed between 12th and 14th June, 1917 (should be 1916), presumed at Ypres ; awarded South African Medal with four clasps. Son of J. and Jessie Ann James, Blackhillock, Burgie, Forres, Morayshire. Occupation, engine driver.

Two Men Named Christmas

Two Men Named Christmas

Christmas is usually a time for celebration and family gatherings. This year has been something out of the ordinary. The year 2020 will no doubt be written in the annals of history.

Today is the 25th of December 2020, Christmas Day and this started me wondering if there were any WW1 casualties with Christmas as their first names? A few years ago I wrote about unusual first name, you know, things like drinks, places, special occasions etc., Christmas. Was there any waiting to be researched?

As it happens in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission online website, there are 61 entries with Christmas in their first names. Of which 45 are from the First World War. Which of these 45 young men should be part of my ramblings?

West Yorkshire Regiment CWGC

A Yorkshire man? – George Thomas Christmas Stimpson. George served in the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) H Company, 1st Battalion. No, he wasn’t a Yorkshire man, he was a native of Cromer. George started his time in the army when after enlisting in Norwich. He served as Private 9204 in the 1st Battalion.

George seems to have been in France and Belgium from around November 1914 – this is confirmed by him being eligible for the 1914 Star, long with the British and Victory Medals.

Thiepval Memorial

George, aged 21, died on or since the 19th of August 1916. He has no known grave but remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. George, included in the Register of Soldiers’ Effects names his uncles Samuel and John as beneficiaries. His uncles were to divide approximately £28 paid in two instalments, the last in September 1919.

Another young man named Christmas was Christmas Newbery. Christmas was the son of George and Susan Newbery and elder brother to Ethel and Dora. You may have guessed why Christmas got his name? He was born on Boxing Day 1891 in Lambeth, London. On the 23rd of March 1892, the family left their home, 88 Dover Buildings to take Christmas to St Mary Magdalene’s Church, Southwark for his baptism.

In 1911 the family and Helen Turner, a niece, were all living at 126 Totterdown Street, Tooting, London. Christmas was an Assistant Postman working for the G.P.O. (General Post Office).

Seaforth Highlanders CWGC

The Great War began in 1914. it must have been shortly after this Christmas Enlisted as he was eligible for the 1914-1915 Star, the British and Victory Medals. He joined the Seaforth Highlanders and served as Private, 911, and on the 1st of March 1915, he was in France. After being killed in action on the 15th of June, 1915 he is remembered on Le Touet Memorial, France.

His mother, Susan Newbery of 114 Gasscot Road, Tooting, submitted a claim for her son’s pension. There are multiple index cards for this pension claim, each of which has a different address for the family. The small amount of 10/- was granted to Susan for a few years then reduced to 5/-for life.

Officer’s in Elgin

Officer’s in Elgin

Elgin War Memorial © C Sklinar 2020

While looking through a series of photographs I’d taken this summer, I came across a familiar surname on the Elgin War Memorial. The surname is not on my mother’s side, the Riach’s, but on my father’s side from Wakefield, West Yorkshire. The surname of OFFICER links into the Siddle family and the research I have done on them (with an Officer relation), seem to have them all around the Yorkshire region. I was quite surprised to find the surname in Elgin.

On the memorial’s front plaque are three C.S.M’s – James Catto; T E Dean, A R Rogers, D.C.M., and finally Wm Officer.

William, who is he?

Elgin War Memorial section © C Sklinar 2020

Born circa 1892, William was the son of Andrew Officer and his wife Agnes, nee Clark. When the 1901 census enumerator came to call on the family at 55 North Street, Elgin, who was in the house? Andrew, born in Portsoy, was aged 39 and worked as a confectioner. Agnes, born in the same year was from Johnstone, Berwickshire. William was one of seven children aged between 13 and 7 years of age – the youngest two may have been twins. There was one other child, Frederick Clark Officer who was born the year after this census.

The census time came again on the 2nd of April, 1911, when William was 18 years of age and still living in Elgin. William was working as a carpenter for Mr James George. It would not be too long before his life and, that of his family would change forever.

William was going to war.

He enlisted in Elgin and became a soldier in the 1st/6th Seaforth

Seaforth Highlanders CWGC

Highlanders. He served with the Regimental Number 526 and rose through the ranks to become a C.S.M. His Medal Card shows he was eligible for the 1915 Star, the Victory and British Medals. The award of the 1915 Star gives an insight when William went to the recruiting office in Elgin.

The 1st/6th Seaforth Highlanders stationed at Elgin along with the 1st/5th (stationed at Golspie) were both parts of the Seaforth and Cameron Brigade of the Highland Division who moved to Bedford. By the 1st of May 1915, they were in French and Belgian theatre of war. During 1915 they saw action at The Battle of Fesubert.

William ended up in the Somme region of France. At the end of July, wounded was more than likely taken to the 36th Casualty Clearing Station Heilly. On the 1st of August, his few days of suffering came to an end. He rests in the Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L’Abbe with over 2000 Commonwealth casualties and over 80 German casualties. The cemetery started in spring 1916 begun under pressure, as a result of this, some burials are closer together than in other CWGC cemeteries.

The Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects include William and show that his father Andrew and mother Agnes were joint legatees in his estate. There was a sum of over £40 that would eventually reach William’s parents in two parts.

There is a set of records that the Western Front Association shared with the pay per view website, Fold3, these thousands of record cards can tell you, the researcher, so much information compared to the Medal Card, The Effects Register and Service Record – if it has survived. This set, The Pension Record Cards, included the standard soldier information – name, rank, service number, they also include a great deal of information about the recipient(s) of the pension. Where the recipient lived? What was their relationship to the soldier? How much was the payment and how long were they to last? Other information may include, the date of death of the recipient and who took over. You could find alternate names for wives or mothers if they remarried. The soldier could have fought under an alias. But there may be information about an illness or detailed cause of death.

What information is on William’s card? Andrew Officer of 15 Union Street, Elgin, died in 1926. The official document then includes his mother, Agnes. William’s brother, Robert of 15 Lossie Wynd, Elgin also has an inclusion. The first entry is on the 26th of September 1919, with the final date being on the 25th of June 1926. Did Andrew get any money? I don’t know as no figures for money are written on the cards.

The Aberdeen Weekly Journal of Friday 11th of August 1916 includes ‘C.S.M. Officer, Elgin. Mr A Officer, confection, Lossie Wynd, Elgin, has received intimation that his son, Company Sergt.-Major William Officer, Seaforth Highlanders, has died of wounds received on 29th July. Although only 23 years of age, C.S.M. Officer had for several years been a member of the Territorials and was most popular in the battalion. Before mobilisation, he was a carpenter with Mr James George’.

As well as being included on the Elgin War Memorial, William’s name is with many others in The Morayshire Roll of Honour. It was while looking for William that I came across five other Officer young men who went to war, including his brothers Robert and Andrew.

Who were these Officer young men? The young men that lived and came home to their family and friends.

Robert Officer (William’s brother), was born in July 1889, at 4 Bridge Street. Before enlisting, Robert had been a marine engineer. He joined the Navy at Glasgow in 1915 and served as a Lieutenant on H.M.S. Caledonia in Home Waters.

Andrew Officer (William’s brother) served as a Seargent in the 20th American Engineers. He was born in October 1887 at 4, Bridge Street, Bishopmill, Elgin. He joined at El Paso, Texas, America, December 1917. He also served in France.

Royal Engineers CWGC

Thomas Frier Officer (William’s brother), served as Sapper 221596, in the Royal Engineers. He was born at 55, North Street, Bishopmill, Elgin, on the 29th of June 1898. He enlisted at Elgin in January 1917. He, like his brothers, served in France.

Andrew Officer served as number 39292 as a Seargent in the Army Pay Office and 10th Scottish Rifles. He was born at Buckie, on the 13th of June, 1893. He enlisted at Elgin in August 1914 and served in France. Andrew was the son of William and Isabella Officer of 67 Moss Street, Elgin. Before joining the military, Andrew worked as a chemist.

William Officer (brother of Andrew) served as Private 266195, in the 3/6th Seaforth Highlanders and Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. William was born at Elgin on the 7th of December 1898. He enlisted at Elgin, in June 1915. He also served in France. William, during his service he was gassed and wounded. The son of William and Isabella Officer, 67, Moss Street, Elgin. Before the war, he worked as a clerk.

James Bochel – Nairn to Canada

James Bochel – Nairn to Canada


It was on the 2nd of March, 1916 that James went to his recruiting depot and signed to “hereby engage and agree to serve in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force, and to be attached to any arm of the service therein, for the term of one year, or during the war now existing between Great Britain and Germany should the war last longer than one year, and for six months after the termination of that war provided His Majesty should so long require my services, or until legally discharged.” Signed by James and witnessed by A F Ancy (sic).

I’ll come back to the paperwork relating to James’ service.

But who was James before he enlisted?

James, born in April 1886, was one of the four children of Isaac and Margaret of 28 Society Street, Nairn.  Isaac was one of the many local fishermen, who earned their living from the sea.

James left the country of his birth before 1916.  There is an entry in the Canadian Passenger Lists 1865-1935 for the 1st of April 1911, for a Jas. Bochel aged 24, sailing from Glasgow on the SS Saturnia along with over 1250 passengers (1107 adults and 145 children under 14 years of age), bound for St John, New Brunswick. The Master of the Saturnia was David Taylor.  The Saturna had 252 passengers in Second Class and 1000 in Steerage.  The heath of all the passengers was good and none were in quarantine.  On the ships manifest James’ occupation is that of a blacksmith but that obviously changed when he arrived in Vancouver.  Could this have been due to meeting a plumber on the voyage or on the long journey to Vancouver?

Fron Nairn to Vancouver via Google Maps

James met and married a young lady named Margaret on the 8th of March 1916, a few days after he had visited the recruitment office.

Back to the paperwork I mentioned earlier, his Attestation Papers.

The first page of James’ Attestation Papers on the Canadian Archives website, is information that we more than likely know – his name; current address; date and place of birth and occupation. If the soldier is married or next of kin are included. Other information needing only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ are – have you been vaccinated? Have you ever served in the Militia or any Military Force? And quite importantly ‘Do you understand the nature and terms of your engagement’?

The two pages give limited knowledge about his initial entry into the Canadian Army. However, the Ancestry website holds his full-service record – a great boon for anyone with James in their tree.
Sometime after James enlisted Margaret, his wife moved, back to Scotland, where she made 53 Forteath Street, Burghead her home. The next page is a description of James, this page, however, does tell that he weighed 140lb (10 stone) and that his vaccinations given when a child.

When I see a description of a soldier, it is as though I could walk down a street in recognise him. But when there is a typewritten will included in the records, it brings back the harsh reality that some men will never return to their loved ones. James had one such letter included in his paperwork. ‘No. 505100 James Bochel, Canadian Engineers. Military Will. In the event of my death, I give the whole of my property and effects to my wife Margaret Bochel, 53 Forteath Street, Burghead, Morayshire, Scotland. J. Bochel. Sapper Can. Engineers. October 28, 1916,’

James embarked Canada as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on the 20th of June 1916, onboard S.S. Missanabie, arriving in England nine days later. (The Missanabie, was torpedoed in September 1918 and sank just off the Irish coast.) James’ record show that he was at Shireclife, and Crowborough before entering France from the reinforcement pool.

Margaret was granted £180 War Gratuity less an amount of £80 Special Pension Bonus which had already been paid (£20 in May, June, July and August). This was sent on cheque number G1897944 on the 30th of July 1920. Prior to this money, Margaret had been getting £20 per month as a Separation Allowance.

James, during operations at Neuville Vitesse (south of Arras), was sitting in a dugout, with three of his comrades, when an enemy 5.9 shell made a direct hit on the dugout. Killing the four soldiers instantly. (source Circumstances of Death Registers First World War, Canadian Archives).

So James was Killed in Action in The Field on April 1st 1917 and rests in Ecoivres Military Cemetery, Mont-St- Eloi which lies between Bethune and Arras and is the final resting place of over 1720 other casualties, many of whom died on or around the 1st of April.

‘UNTIL THE DAY DAWN AND THE SHADOWS FLEE AWAY’ are the words at the base of James’ CWGC headstone in France.

James Main Bochel is remembered locally on the Burghead War Memorial.

James Bochel, Burghead War Memorial ©

Canadian Roll of Honour

If you are related to James it would be nice to hear from you.

St Paul’s Churchyard, Hanging Heaton

St Paul’s Churchyard, Hanging Heaton

St Paul’s church and burial ground lie at one corner of a housing estate just off the A653. Built as one of the ‘million churches’, to celebrate the Duke of Wellington’s victory at the Battle of Waterloo. Parliament gave a grant of ONE MILLION pounds so that a grateful nation could build churches as a way of saying thank you to God for safe deliverance. Built-in the Gothic style of stone taken from local quarries. Mr Thomas Taylor of Leeds designed the grand building which could seat around 600 worshippers.

The first burial to take place in the reasonably sized churchyard was that of Benjamin Whitaker, whose headstone is still visible today. Also resting in the churchyard are members of the Asquith family, namely Elizabeth Ann, William, May, and Edith. One other member of the family, although not buried with the rest of his family does have a mention on their headstone, Harry.

Montay-Neuvilly Road Cemetery, Montay via Google Maps

Harry, died on the 12th of October 1918 aged 38. Probably, his date of death may give you a clue as to why he is not resting with the rest of his family. The Commonwealth War Grave Commission Montay-Neuvilly Road Cemetery, Montay, bordered by a main road and countryside is where he rests. The cemetery is some 15 miles from Cambrai which was the site of many conflicts. The cemetery was made by the 23rd Brigade RGA (Royal Garrison Artillery, on the 26th and 27th of October 1918, containing at the time 111 graves – one of which would have been Harry’s. The Armistice, following month, saw many more burials taking places as those with a temporary burial were brought to more central cemeteries.

Back to Harry. He was the son of William and Elizabeth Ann. Born in Dewsbury Harry was 21 years old when the 1901 census was taken. The family lived at Wood End Terrace, Hanging Eaton. William was employed as a Bankers Clerk, the only other source of income was from Harry, an outfitters assistant (clothing). Elizabeth Ann and three daughters aged between 26 and 30 did not have any occupations. The other families living along the terrace were like the Asquith’s, not manual workers, except a farmer.

Elizabeth Ann died in 1905 aged 59 years of age; May, a daughter followed in 1919 aged 43; William died in 1920 aged 74 and Edith, another daughter died in 1951 aged 79.

In the summer of 1907, Harry married Emma Alice Unwin. In 1908 their only child, Arthur was born. 1911 the census for Harry and his family shows that Harry was still working in a clothing shop. Home for the family was 29 Bellbrooke Place, (Harehills) Leeds.

Harry enlisted into the army in Pontefract, more than likely after 1915 as his medal card shows he was only eligible for the Victory and British medals. So he becomes Private 241993 in the 9th HLI (Highland Light Infantry). The 9th Btn. was a territorial division raised in Glasgow in August 1914. By November they were mobilised and had arrived in France. During the following years, the battalion saw conflict on the Western Front. And from 1916 – Albert, Bazentin, High Wood, Polygon Wood, along with action on the Flanders coast and the Hindenburg Line. In 1918 The battles of Hazebrouck, Kemmel, St Quentin Canal, Cambrai and Selle. It was probably around the Selle area of France, only some five miles from Montay that Harry’s life ended.

Back home Emma would have received The Telegram that all families dreaded being delivered by the local postie. Emma would later receive The British and Victory Medals and the sum of £18 5s 3d from the War Office which included £9 War Gratuity. She was also eligible for a small pension that would cease in 1924 when Arthur was 16 years old.

Emma never re-married and in 1939 can be found at 70 Pontefract Road, Hemsworth with her son Arthur and his wife Phyllis. Emma was the local sub-postmistress and had been since the early war years. While Arthur worked as a rant and rate collector Hence, Harry enlisting in Pontefract. On the 24th of November 1957, Emma died. Her probate confirms the address of 70 Pontefract Road with the addition of a house name – ‘Justholme’. The sum of £1461 19s 9d was left to Austin now classed as a local government officer. Austin died in the early 1980s. Austin had been living at number 70 up to his death. His probate effects were not exceeding £25,000, as were quite a few other people on that page.

Humphrey / Rhind Headstone, Lhangbryde

Humphrey / Rhind Headstone, Lhangbryde

Boken headstone remembering the Humphrey / Rhind family © C Sklinar

In Lhanbryde Cemetery there is a broken headstone remembering the Humphrey/Rhind family. The wording on the top section of the headstone was too heavy to move and see the information.

The name Margaret is missing the top of the ‘t’. The date of death is missing, though you can see she was 70 years old.  The information on the top section was too heavy to see the

Above Margaret, there must have been another name included (probably John Humphrey). The second name is that of Alexander, who was, Killed at Beaumont Hamel on the 13th of November 1916, aged 19. Below, Alexander is Agnes C Rhind, who died in June 1925, followed on by ‘the said’ John Humphrey who died in December 1944 aged 77 and finally, his son James.

The majority of my friends know that I am a sucker for an intriguing headstone or one that bears the name or remembers a soldier or someone who gave service. I seem to want to know who they were – putting meat on bones, as they say!

Alexander had been born in Forres on the 2nd of August 1897. In the 1901 census, 92 North Road, was home for John (a cycle mechanic), Agnes and their five children. Later in his teenage years, he worked as a joiner.

When I began looking for information I must admit I made a very basic and newby error!  I started looking for Alexander Rhind, which gave me a number of records.  Within minutes I was back on track looking for Alexander Humphreys.  As you can see from the headstone – wife and son, then John Humphreys.  This is not a mistake you would make on an English headstone.  When I initially started looking into my mother’s family, I could not work out why women had a different name, even though ‘wife of’ or ‘husband of’ was included.  Why were all these people not married?  Why were they so many base-born children?  Then one kind person told me a few words and I have never forgotten them ‘a woman keeps her name from cradle to grave’.  I must say it does make looking for a wife’s maiden name a great deal easier.  But I digress.

Alexander enlisted in Elgin on the 11th of May 1916, where he became Private 6198 in the 5th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders. The 5th was part of the 51st Division and took part in the attack on Beaumont Hamel on the 13th of November 1916. The 51st, was situated to the North of Beaumont Hamel, split into four waves. During the first three days of battle, the 51st lost five

Lhangbryde War Memorial

officers and 75 ORs (other ranks) many more joined their fallen comrades in the days to follow due to their wounds. Alexander was one of those 75. Sadly, he has no known grave and is name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial with over 72,100 others whose final resting place is not known.  He is also remembered on the Lhangbryde War Memorial and in the Moray Roll of Honour.

A very interesting and informative description of what happened that day and the days that followed can be found here and here.  In the first link, there is the information about another local lad, George Eric Edwards of Lossiemouth.

James Alaister C MacKay – Seaforth Highlanders

James Alaister C MacKay – Seaforth Highlanders

By the 22nd of July 1916, the Battle of the Somme was 22 days old. Shortly after the 22nd, the family of J Alaister Culbard Mackay would receive the news that they had dreaded.

James Alastair Culbard Mackay was born in 1891 in Rathven, Banffshire, the son of Robert Young Mackay and his wife, Edith Culbard. His father Robert had been the Procurator Fiscal for Dumfriesshire – later to be the same in Banffshire and died in 1929. From the collection of family memorials in Linkwood Cemetery, Elgin, so much can be learnt about the Young family and the people who they married. Two large ornate memorial stones are attached to the boundary wall, with several others forming an ‘honour guard’.

It appears that one of the Mackay’s, a doctor, lived at The Tower, Elgin, and probably ran his practice from the building. My parents were married in the building in the early 1950s when the building was a hotel. The Doctor Mackay, according to, remodelled the house and all that remains of the original building is the three-story 1600 tower.

At the time the 1901 census was taken, James was 9-years-old, his younger brother Robert had been born 14 days earlier. Could it have been due to the recent birth that Edith’s sister Alice was in the house on the census night? Also at 6 Seaview, Buckie was a visitor (sick nurse), housemaid and cook. His father Robert, as a solicitor and would, had the means to pay for the extra staff.

James joined the army, initially as a Lieutenant in the 6th Seaforth Highlanders before being promoted to the rank of Captain. The 1/6th Battalion was a Territorial Force known as the Morayshire Battalion. This Battalion landed in France in May 1915 as part of the 51st (Highland Division) – the same period that James landed in France.

As James as an officer, had no service number – it was not until he 2nd World War that a soldier retained his service number after a transfer and an officer had a serial number. Due to James being an officer, his service records are available to view at the National Archives, Kew. Other records appertaining to James service can also be found at the NA or on many pay-per-view websites. One of the available records is his Medal Card which tells that he was eligible for the 1915 Star, Victory and British Medals. Unusually enough, there is a small amount of information on the reverse of the card – application dates for his father and his father’s address (Procurator Fiscals Office, Dumfries. Home, Mayfield, Welltown, Dumfries).

The medals previously mentioned were not the only ones given to James. In early June 1916 in the King Birthday Honour List – His Majesty, the King had been graciously pleased to approve the award (Military Cross) for the Distinguished Service in the Field.

The 51st Division took part in defence of Ypres during the late spring of 1915 before moving to an area north of the River Somme where they relieved the French near Hamel. By now, the 51st were starting to build a reputation for themselves as a hard-fighting lot! In 1916 they took part in attacks on High Wood and the Battle of Ancre in which the 51st captured Beaumont Hamel. During this time they captured over 2000 prisoners. It was more than likely during the battle that James died. The cemetery where he rests is only a short distance from the River Somme and the centre of Ancre. The CWGC cemetery (La Neuville British Cemetery) is slightly off the beaten track, accessible via the Route de Daours, Corbie. Surrounded by fields, the cemetery is the final resting place of over 890 casualties of war.

The Book of Remembrance, available at each site of commemoration, tells James, aged 25 Died of Wounds and also gives his farther’s details. His headstone shows the badge of his regiment and a simple cross along with his identifying information.

The Probate Calendars for Scotland include James, now of Bemreay, Banff. The information – his regiment, that he died on active service, date of Will and Grant, to who granted and the amount of £772 11s 10d.

The website FindaGrave includes a photograph of James’ headstone plus a picture of a very handsome young man wearing a Glengarry Bonnet.

Adam Lind Chivas

Adam Lind Chivas

I can’t remember how I came across Adam, but there must have been a snippet of information made me put him in my blogging filing cabinet, my old grey matter!

Adam Lind Chivas was born at Greyfriars Street, Elgin on the 14th of August 1886 – the son of John Chivas and Margaret Murdoch.

Adam’s father had been a merchant running his business from Commerce Street, Elgin. The Aberdeen Free Press of 21st April 1888 includes an advertisement for a ‘Desirable Licensed Merchants’ for sale by a private bargain with stock and fittings in value to about £400.  Why did John wish to sell his livelihood a few years after his sons birth?

Adam worked as a Maltman.

Adam married Isabella Thompson in May 1913.

In 1914 the war, that would come to be known as ‘the war to end all wars’ (but it didn’t) broke out and Adam like a great number of local young men enlisted.  He enlisted in Elgin, as did many others. He joined the Seaforth Highlanders and became Private S/7253.  The 2/6th Seaforth Highlanders had been formed at Elgin in the September of 1914.  Could Adam and others have joined when a recruiting drive took place locally?  The 2/6th moved to Fort George but Adam was in the 9th Btn.  The 2/6th was only a short-lived Battalion, was it that Adam was transferred to the 9th during his time there?  The 9th moved to Aldershot and became a Pioneer Battalion of the 9th Division before moving to Farnham and then France.

During 1916 they took part in The Battle of The Somme, Delville Wood and Le Transloy.  Adam was Killed in Action on the 19th of March 1916 and rests in the London Rifle Brigade Cemetery just outside Ploegsteert (Plug Street).

The Aberdeen Press and Journal include Adam in their Roll of Honour – Chivas – Killed in action in Belgium, on 19th March, Private Adam L Chivas 9th Seaforth Highlanders, aged 29 years, beloved husband of Bella Chivas, 11 Land Street, New Elgin and brother of Mrs Gatt, 95 Huntly Street, Aberdeen – deeply regretted.  The same entry is also in the Aberdeen Evening Press

The Service Record for Adam has not survived but other documents can give a great deal of information.  Adam L Chivas (Chevas) has two Medal Cards – one tells he entered France on the 10th of May 1915, thus marking him eligible for the 1915 Star and that he was K in A.  The other using Chivas as the surname is less informative but gives his entitlement to the British and Victory Medals.

The most informative document is his Pension Card but this document also raises a few questions.

The CWGC have his age at death as 29, so do newspaper obituaries for the time.  The Pension Card has his date of birth as 19th of April 1877 – a possible transcription error.

The aforementioned newspapers have his wife as Bella, Isabella whom he is said to have married in 1913.  After taking a second look at a few websites and confirming the information already known it was now time to bite the bullet and visit ScotlandsPeople which confirmed a thought I had had after the previous information was fund to be correct.    I find in family history you can’t always think in the box, sometimes you have to venture way outside to find that sneaky bit that tries to hide.

The information on the card I refer to is children – Helen born June 1901, Jame Ann born December 1903 and Christina Born 1909 – all listed as Cameron and marked as Step Children.  It was ScotlandsPeople that confirmed that Isabella’s marriage is cross-referenced under Thompson and Cameron.  It looks like Adam Lind Chivas was her second husband. Now that little problem is sorted.  Home for Adam and Bella had been 11 Land Street but she must have moved as North View, West Road, Elgin was the final address.

How much Pension did Bella receive?  She received 23/- per week from 2nd of October 1916.  This must have been paid in arrears as the award date was 29th September 1916.

Adam Lind Chivas is mentioned with many other Moray men and women in the Morayshire Roll of Honour.

Bella, Isabella died on the 14th of December 1962 aged 86


Countries as First Names

Countries as First Names

A while ago I wrote about towns that parents gave their children as first names.  I also wrote about alcoholic drinks used for the same purpose.  It was while looking for the birth of a Riach family member that I came across a name that brought country names to my attention.

World map source unknown

With this new blog already forming in my mind, I set off on a simple search of FMB (FreeBMD) just using Sept 1837 to 1945 as my date range I started to enter country names in the first name search box – here are a few of my results.

England – over 60 results with the registrations all being south of Knaresborough.  A few Bradford and Dewsbury families used England as a first name but the majority were registered in Bridgewater, Axbridge and Warrington.  With a few registered in Glandford B and N. Aylesford.

Scotland – If England brought results I wondered if Scotland would show results.  FreeBMD would not show that for births but would a few deaths show up for those people wandering down across the border.  No, no deaths or marriages were shown but when looking at ScotlandsPeople results did show.  The OPR’s (Old Parish Registers) show 45 births, 2 deaths, 6 marriages and 3 baptisms.  The Statutory Registers from 1855 the present show 702 births, 558 deaths, 384 marriages and 26 divorces.  While church records over 55 results.  The census over the years shows again over 55 cases of Scotland used as a first or middle name.

Wales – Wales has also been used as a first name and registered in places such as Wakefield, Pontefract, Dewsbury, Marylebone,  Shoreditch, Durham.  The first registration being in 1838 and the last in 1900.

Ireland – Ireland also has been used as a first name for both male and female.  The first entry is in 1840 when Ireland Sophia Du Chateau is registered in Kensington.  In 1841 Ireland William Hewes Graham is registered in Stow.  The year 1900 sees the registration of Ireland Stanley Brian De Courcy in Doncaster.  The last entries using the 1837 – 1945 criteria on FMD are registered in 1937 in Stepney and Camberwell.  Now to go further afield

Africa – There were 9 children registered with the name Africa between 1848 and 1910 and there seems to be no duplication of registration districts.

Belgium – First used as a first or middle name in 1877.  You then see a gap until 1914 when it is probably expected.  The name is then used widely until the last registered in 1920.

France – Surprisingly enough, and I was very surprised, there was no registration of the name France as the first name in FreeBMD – yet!  But and this is a big BUT I found my search criteria was way too large, 1937 to 1945 is not large for most names but France seems to have broken the limit of shown entries which is 3000.  I re-jigged the search to 1900 -1945 but again I broke the system.  Another re-jigging and now 1914-1948 now there are only 14000 entries still over 11000 too many to view.  When the West Riding of Yorkshire is used as an area the results show a large number of entries is mainly due to FRANCES taking over the search.  Now to play with the options – using ‘Exact match on first names’, going back to my original search Sept 1837 – Dec 1945 and returning to Counties ALL – BINGO!  France is used widely from the beginning of registration but I was shocked to find that during The Great War there seem to be no more or fewer entries than is the norm.

Holland – Holland, however, does have a great number of entries.  These large numbers could be mainly since Holland is also a surname and being given to their children to remember a maiden surname down the family line.

Denmark – This country used as a first or middle name only has 3 registrations in the criteria used for this purpose.  Denmark was first registered in 1878 in Neath, then two years later on the Isle of Wight and then lastly in 1894 in Highworth.  On all three occasions, Denmark has been followed by one or two middle names.

Spain – This country only seems, according to the FMD entries, registered one time – in 1843 in Thanet.  So it seems that Spain Lilleford Miller was the only person to have Spain as a name.

Portugal – Portugal, also seems to be lacking registrations.

Italy – Italy has been registered 3 times from 1890 to 1913 with all the entries being in the London area and to Italian families.

Germany – continuing around Europe, Germany has been registered 5 times between 1842 and 1872 with no duplication of registration district.

Switzerland – no registrations.

Poland – There were 3 registrations for the first name Poland between 1860 and 1921 all being in the south of England.

Russia – There was only one entry, Russian Freemantle was registered in S Stoneham in 1903.

America – America on its own sees four entries between 1870 and 1885 and one example of Americas being registered in Chelsea in 1843.  In 1884 America Rushbrook De la Coze was registered in Midhurst.  The following year America Maria J Casadia was registered in Holborn.

Canada – Another example of a unique name.  Canada Katie E Wardle was registered in Shipston in the December Quarter of 1897.

Brazil – The year 1887 sees the first entry of Brazil being used but Brazillia was used in 1845.  You would think that Brazil would be the masculine name while Brazillia was the female version.  That is not the case as in 1867 Hull Brazillai Stephen Cock was registered.  You could also think that this name was used by sailors who had visited Brazil.  This presumption may not be the case as many of the registrations are for inland districts.

Argentina – While Patagonia has no entries Argentina has 11 registrations between 1849 and 1900 from places as far a wide as Peterborough, Bradford, Devises, Wirral, St Pancras and London.  Out of the 11 registrations, only 4 have a British surname.  The majority of the remainder seem to be Italian in origin.

Australia – Again a single entry first name.  Australia George A Tyler was registered in Spalding in 1870.

Tasmania – Tasmania however, has three entries all of which seem to be female born between 1855 and 1893.

Zealand – This name has been registered 7 times and in all instances except one has been the only name – Zealandia Ross Burt is the only multi-name and the only example of Zealandia.

Java – Java has also been used as a first name with a first registration taking place in Bradford in 1862.

Japan – There are no entries.

China – However, China sees three registrations for both male and female between 1842 and 1904.

Siberia – Now this one did surprise me with three entries from 1838 to 1896.

India – India was first registered in Spilsbury in 1842 but there were entries for Indian(n) before and after.  Indian(n)a does take up the majority of the search results.

Arabia – Finds one entry for Arabia Maria Louisa Woolsey being registered in Erpingham in 1838.

Burma – First registered in Wellingborough in 1859 and given to Burma Selema Flawn.  The main results for Burma as criteria are Burman and Burmah.

Iceland – Sees three entries in a 42 year period.

Norway, Sweden and Finland see no entries.

Uist – Uist an island off Scotland has 6 entries but all are between 1948 and 1983 and all are registered south of Nottingham.

Going out on a limb with one last search:

Greenland – Six registrations taking place between 1877 and 1919

That ends my journey around the world in names.  But doesn’t it make you wonder what was the reasoning behind the parents choice of name(s) for their children? During The Great War, you can understand Belgium being used.  There also was a speight of Belgian town names as babies names during that time.  But countries such as Java and Burma makes you wonder what was the connection,  as I am sure that many working men and women may never have heard of these places, never mind have a connection to them.

Why people chose such names for their children could remain a mystery unless these people are in your family tree.


William Bauchop of Forres

William Bauchop of Forres

The Bauchop family headstone stands proudly on a slab of granite in the Cluny Hill Cemetery – near the top of the hillside cemetery.  This woodland cemetery I find such a beautiful and peaceful place and is probably one of my favourites to spend time just walking around.

The headstone tells ‘In memory of James Bauchop. Died 26 Feb. 1931. His wife Flora Clyne Died 29 Sep. 1932. Their sons Charles. Died in infancy. William Killed in Action. 23 Dec. 1914. And their daughter Jean Cameron Clyne Died 17 May. 1952.’

William was born in Dundee on the 18th of May 1883. Within a few years, the family had moved North to Forres. The move could have been because James worked for the Great North of Scotland Railway Company as a traffic agent. Number 76c High Street became the family home.

William also worked for the same railway company as his father – could his work have been the reason he was in London at the time of his enlistment, September 1914?

He joined the 2nd Btn. Scots Guards and became Private 11319. It was just a few months after enlisting on the 9th of November 1914 that William embarked for France.

When the 2nd Battalion landed they became part of the 20th Guards Brigade of the 7th Division which took part in the First Battle of Ypres. In September and November, very heavy fighting took place not only in Ypres but in the surrounding areas. It was during this time over 50,000 British regular soldiers became casualties or were killed. Even though there were large numbers of casualties the British managed to hold the line and stopped the German attempt to breakthrough.

The regiment saw further contact with the enemy in the very cold December of that year. The regiment, on the 19th of December, won its first Victoria Cross, when Private James Mackenzie successfully rescued a badly wounded soldier from the German lines. He was killed later that day while undertaking a similar rescue. It was only a few short days later that William was killed.

William was laid to rest in Le Trou Aid Post Cemetery, Fleurbaix, France. Fleurbaix is some 700 miles from Forres, a small hamlet between Bethune and Armienteres. To the south is Fromelles while a 30 minutes drive and you are in the Belgium city of Ypres. A world and a lifetime away from the Moray Burgh of Forres.

Although William was killed early in the war he was still eligible for a medal or two – the 1914 Star and the Victory Medal. He or should I say his father went on to receive a War Gratuity of £3 plus £1 13s 10p and three siblings (James, Jane C and Annie) each received 11s 3p.

William was not the only child of James and Flora to ‘do their bit’ during The Great War. His younger brother James, born 2nd February 1892. He enlisted locally in Elgin on the 4th of August 1914. He initially served with the 1/6th Seaforth Highlanders as Private 1757, later rising to the rank of Sergeant before being transferred after 1916 to the Machine Gun Corps where he was an Officer Cadet and entered on the nominal roll of Officers. Now a 2nd Lieutenant he was awarded the Military Cross his citation in the London Gazette of 6 April 1918 reads:-T./2nd Lt. James Belfrage Bauchop, M.G. Corps. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He led his battery through very heavy shell fire to their position during an attack, and got them into action, with great success. Later, under very severe shell fire, though wounded, he reorganised his teams’ and got his guns into action, remaining at his post until relieved’.

James during his service was severely wounded at Poelcapelle in the left side and shoulder. The Forres News and Advertiser of 20th of October 1917 let the community know of the families news ‘Wounded, Sec., Lieut. J B Bauchop. Information has been received by Mr and Mrs Bauchop, High Street, Forres that their only surviving son, Second Lieut. James B Bauchop, Machine Gun Corps, has been severely wounded. After a period of 15 months at the front with the Seaforth Highlanders, he received a commission in the Machine Gun Corps in October last year. Before enlisting he was in the employment of Messrs R & S Stewart, W.S., Edinburgh.’ After the was James worked as a solicitor. He married Margaret MacKenzie and died in 1959.

The next child is Jean or Jane as she is sometimes found, like William she was born in Dundee (28 June 1886). During the war, she served as a VAD Nurse but is missing from the Red Cross lists. After the was Jean became the manageress of the Forres Gazette office. She died in 1952.