Down Memory Lane

6th Seaforth clearning trenches. Photo: John Duncan
6th Seaforth clearning trenches. Photo: John Duncan

A ‘one in a million’ war hero from Newtongrange.

James Collins was born in Pitullie, Aberdeenshire, and moved to Newtongrange as a teenager where he settled and became a fireman (shot firer) with the Lothian Coal Company on leaving school. He married and settled at 48 Abbeyland , Newtongrange, and was a member of the St Mary’s Masonic Lodge.

In May 1915 he enlisted in the 7th Seaforth Highlanders and went to France where he commenced upon a distinguished military career.

On July 16,1916, the 7th Seaforth Highlanders, part of the 9th (Scottish) Division, were at Delville Wood, the scene of some of the bitterest and bloodiest fighting on the Somme.

James Collins, then a Lance Corporal and a stretcher bearer, went out under fire several times and rescued 13 men who were badly wounded, in doing so he was wounded himself four times.

He was shipped home to recover from his wounds and whilst home he heard that he had been awarded the recently introduced Military Medal.

When James returned to France he was transferred from the 7th Seaforth Highlanders to the 6th Battalion, part of the crack 51st Highland Division.

See this week’s Advertiser for John Duncan’s full feature on Collins’ wartime exploits.

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