Men lie where they fell

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - COMMENT -

Donald Ab­bott of In­ver­gowrie tells the story of his great un­cle, Alexan­der Pirie Ab­bott. “Alexan­der was born in Dundee in 1877,” he says. “In his youth, he be­gan a course in Dundee for qual­i­fi­ca­tion as a chemist, but went off sud­denly in Jan­uary 1895 to join the Queen’s Own Cameron High­landers.

“He served in the Su­dan and South Africa and then the 1st Bat­tal­ion was home in In­ver­ness from 1902-04 and served in Ire­land and Alder­shot be­tween 1904 and 1913. There­after they re­turned to Ed­in­burgh in 1913. On Au­gust 12 1914 the 1st Camerons marched out of Ed­in­burgh Cas­tle for France.

“Sadly, Alexan­der lost his life early in the Great War. The 1st Bat­tal­ion had its head­quar­ters in a cave on the banks of the River Aisne. On Septem­ber 25 1914, two huge Ger­man shells ex­ploded, one on the roof of the cave and the other at its en­trance.

“The oc­cu­pants were en­tombed and prob­a­bly killed out­right.

“Five of­fi­cers in­clud­ing the act­ing CO and the med­i­cal of­fi­cer were killed, as were Reg­i­men­tal Sergeant Ma­jor G.S.Burt, Com­pany Sergeant Ma­jor Alexan­der Ab­bott and Sergeant A. Hutchi­son, to­gether with two Ju­nior NCOs, and 17 oth­ers.

“It seems that the cave was also in use as a dress­ing sta­tion for the wounded, which would ac­count for the pres­ence of the med­i­cal of­fi­cer and the bands­men, the lat­ter be­ing used in bat­tle as stretcher-bear­ers.

“So far as I can es­tab­lish, the bod­ies of th­ese brave Cameron High­landers still lie where they fell.

“CSM Alexan­der Ab­bott is com­mem­o­rated at the La Ferté-SousJouarre me­mo­rial at Seine-et-Marne, France, and his name is in­cluded in the Books of Remembrance at the Na­tional War Me­mo­rial in Ed­in­burgh Cas­tle, in the Chapel of Fort Ge­orge, Arder­sier, and on an An­der­son grave­stone at Crathie.

“Be­fore the fire at Mor­gan Academy, Dundee, his name topped the school war me­mo­rial which then stood in the vestibule of the main en­trance door ad­ja­cent to the Rec­tor’s of­fice.

“Alexan­der’s name is also recorded also on the Ab­bot(t) fam­ily grave­stone within the Western Ceme­tery, Dundee.”

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