Down Memory Lane

Scottish POWs at a WWI German camp
Scottish POWs at a WWI German camp

In March 1918 the German Army assembled a huge amount of men in order to launch what they thought would be a war winning offensive. Reinforced by vast numbers of men drawn from the Eastern Front following the surrender of Russia, they attacked with unbelievable ferocity on March 23.

Facing them near the River Lys were a number of Divisions, including 40 Division, one of the regiments in its ranks was the 14th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, one of Kitchener’s New Army battalions.

Private William Horsburgh from Acre Cottage, Newbattle, awaited the onslaught of the Germans, and he kept a diary of his experiences.

“Attack started on Thursday 21st March. Stand to at 4.30am at Hamelincourt. After stand down we went and dug ourselves in that night and when morning came we moved into an old trench at Vaux, the Army Line. We stayed there until after dinner when we had to fall back, owing to heavy fighting, to Mory.

“At night I took some wounded down to an RAMC dressing station, on returning I lost my road and stayed the night [22nd March] with the artillery and had supper with them. On Saturday morning [23rd March] I was making my way to (unreadable) to find my battalion when a Sergeant of the RAMC stopped me and said the doctor wanted to know where I was going.”

Read more of John Duncan’s feature in this week’s Advertiser. On sale now.