Officer’s in Elgin
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?
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
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.
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.