A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking at a Midlothian Remembers event at the National Mining Museum. After my talk, I was approached by James Smith from Dalkeith.
He had seen an article of mine in the Advertiser about prisoners of war in the Great War and wanted to ask me a few questions about his grandfather, James Ramage, whom he believed had been a POW, perhaps in Bolshevik Russia.
We parted and I went home. I did a bit of detective work and found that James Ramage had served in the 10 Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders, part of the 15th Scottish Division in Lord Kitchener’s New Armies.
James had enlisted early in 1915 and left behind a wife and three small children in Dalkeith when he went to war.
In the first few weeks of July 1915, 15 Division headed over to France, and James joined them as a replacement on August 26, 1915.
Despite the division being relatively green and inexperienced, they were considered good enough to take part in the upcoming offensive around the mining town of Loos in Northern France.
Loos bore remarkable similarities to the coal mining villages of the Lothians with its pit bings and miners’ rows.
On September 25, 1915, the 10th Gordon Highlanders went into action alongside the 9th Gordons, Seaforth Highlanders, Cameron Highlanders and the Black Watch. Their objective was the village of Loos and Hill 70.
Read more of John Duncan’s feature in this week’s Advertiser. On sale now.
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