Elspeth De Montes told us about her grandad John MacKenzie, a carpenter, who was called up in August 1914.
“John had been working as a carpenter for James Bryce in Clephanton since April 1910 when he was called up on 4th August 1914. He enlisted with the Highland Mounted Brigade at Nairn eventually being posted to to Egypt in 1916. He worked chiefly on the wagons, greasing and making slight repairs but he also saw action throughout his time in Egypt. During an air raid at Ramleh on 27th November 1917 5 men were killed along with approximately 100 horses.”
John survived his time in Egypt, returning home on 4th April 1919. He kept some of his equipment in the Princess Mary Tin he received during his service. Elspeth still has his Princess Mary tin. He passed away in 1980.
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Steven Shackleton told us about his great uncle, Thomas Edwards from Ironbridge. During the First World War, Tommy Edwards was a Corporal in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Prior to the war he had served as 86589 Pte T Edwards with the Territorial Reserve Battalion. He served with the 10th KOYLI and then transfered to the 2nd KOYLI before he was killed in action on 30th September 1918, aged 19. He is buried at Bellicourt British Cemetery in France. His mother was Mrs Francis Edwards of Hoylake, Cheshire and had the following inscription added to the bottom of his headstone: ‘Peace, perfect peace’.
Submitted by Mike Crisp. Private 47165 George Laws was by trade a painter and decorator from the small market town of Beccles, Suffolk. He joined the 22nd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Scottish) and served in France. On the opening day of Operation Michael, 21st March 1918 his battalion was in the front-line trenches around St Leger / Bullecourt where he was reported missing. His body was never recovered, and he is commemorated on the Arras memorial. According to the battalion diary they suffered 1,130 casualties on that day. George’s wife Gertrude, was heartbroken and never gave up hope of her husband being found, writing to the War Office on several occasions to try and gain more information. It was not until many months later friends of George visited her to relate that George was a member of a bombing party which went to a flank and were never seen again. Not only was Gertrude in mourning but also on the poverty line, forced to bring up 2 small children on her own. To help make ends meet she took in washing, sat with the dying, and laid out corpses for the local undertakers. Her son became the surrogate ‘man of the house’ and it was not until 1968 that he felt that he could leave his mother to get married himself. Gertrude died at the age of 97 in 1977.
Researched by Will Young. Born on 20th July 1897 at Port Elgin, Ontario, Canada, Evan Kerruish was destined to be burried in distant Catterick at the age of 20. His parents were the Rev. Thomas and Mrs Maria Kerruish of Hamilton, Ontario. He enlisted into 153 (Wellington) Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 6th October 1915. He sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia on the sister ship of the Titanic, the SS Olympic on 29th April 1917 and landed at Liverpool on 7 May. Kerruish was commissioned into the Royal Naval Air Service on 9th October 1917, serving with Torpedo Squadron No 1. The cause of his death on 13th July 1918 and reason for burial at Catterick are unknown.