NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

The five Aberdeen sons who died due to World War One

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Media captionPeter Tocher Snr, right, also joined up as he kept losing his sons

When World War One broke out in 1914, Peter and Elspeth Tocher from Aberdeen had five sons.

Peter, George, James, John and Robert all served in the Gordon Highlanders regiment.

All of them died.

The father of the five men, who was in his 50s, also enlisted as he was so distraught to be losing his sons one by one. Relatives have been telling the story to BBC Scotland ahead of Remembrance Day.

Cpl George Tocher was the first to perish. He was injured while fighting near Ypres in May 1915. He died of his wounds and was buried in a military cemetery in Belgium.

The Battle of the Somme then claimed the lives of three Tocher men.

James and John Tocher died in July 1916, but their bodies were never found. Robert Tocher died in the November, and was buried in France.

Peter Tocher was captured by the enemy in 1914, and spent the rest of the war in a German PoW camp.

Distraught, their father Peter Snr enlisted in early 1916. However he was deemed too old for military service.

Mabel Anderson, one of the family's descendants, and her daughter Hazel Greig, researched the story with the help of the Gordon Highlanders Museum.

'Very proud'

Mrs Greig told BBC Scotland: "It was very, very interesting. Wow, we had never known it could go so far as this.

"We even actually had an adventure over to Belgium and France to try to find where they were laid to rest.

"The mum must have been so distraught, so angry.

"Peter Snr was so angry that his sons were being killed off one by one that he actually took it on to his own to go and try and get over and fight, but officials had to stop him from going over in case he was killed as well."

The eldest son Peter had contracted tuberculosis in the PoW camp. He returned home after the war, but died in October 1923.

As his death came after the war, he was not entitled to a Commonwealth War Grave. He was buried in a pauper's grave in Trinity Cemetery in Aberdeen.

The Tocher descendants have now erected a special granite memorial stone to honour the brothers.

Mrs Anderson said of the remarkable story: "I am sure we will pass it on to my grandkids and my great-grandkids."

Mrs Greig concluded: "We are all very proud of the boys who went over to fight."

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