Contributed by: Claire Chalmers, on 2008-11-13
|Year of Birth||1892|
|Year of Death||1961|
|Regiment||Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders|
|Place of Wartime Residence||Forfar, Angus|
George Gordon was my grandfather who I do not remember as he died just a few months after I was born. He was one of nine children (five girls and four boys) and came from Forfar in Angus. His family ran a joiner and undertakers business in the town. He was regarded as the brightest member of his family and stayed on at school till the age of 14 after which he went to work as a wages clerk for a jute manufacturer in Dundee. My grandparents met when my gran nursed my grandad back to health in the war.
My grandparents met when my gran nursed my grandad back to health in the war.
He was 22 when war broke out and he enlisted in the Argylls in a new battalion for professional and business men. The battalion was not complete until 1916 after which he was sent to France to man the line at Hulloch. He recalled that there were many kilts hanging on barbed wire there from the earlier Battle of Loos. George was promoted to lance corporal and put in charge of D Company stretcher bearers. He took part in the First Battle of Cambrai and for his role was awarded the Military Medal on account of bringing back many wounded under heavy fire.
Shortly after this, while on loan to an English regiment, George and his fellow stretcher bearers were wounded by a stray shell. After recovering he went back on duty and was soon wounded again. This time he was sent to be treated at a hospital on the French coast in a town called Le Treport in a building that was formerly a hotel. While he was here, he met a young Welsh VAD by the name of Gwladys Rees. In these most unlikely of surroundings they formed an attachment to one another.
George was sent back to the front when he recuperated. In one action, his unit was reduced from 150 to 25 men who were not killed or injured. He thought he was done for, but his unit was relieved by some English troops. George managed to come through to the end of the war and was demobbed in 1919. Two days after coming home, he caught the train to North Wales and asked Gwladys Rees to marry him. Even though she agreed they did not marry until 1921 when George felt suitably able to provide for his new wife. Their son, my father, was called James Gordon after George's brother who went to the war but did not come home. He was wounded on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and died two weeks later. He is buried in the extension of the village cemetery of Corbie near Amiens. GeorgeÂs older brother was an undertaker and was regarded as having a reserved occupation and stayed at home to run the family business. His younger brother enlisted later on and was badly gassed in an action in 1918 and suffered from a weak chest for the rest of his life. Only two of his five sisters married - part of a generation of spinsters for whom there were not enough men left to go round.
Wars cause untold suffering, but they also have the effect of bringing people together who would otherwise never have met. Such is the case of my grandparents, of whom I am immensely proud. As someone who would not be here were it not for World War I, it is somewhat ironic that my birthday is on 11 November.