Bridge of Weir

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Gottfried Hepner GiffenPTE HEPNER GIFFEN 16TH R.S.

43897 Private Hepner Giffen
(Gottfried Hepner)

16th Battalion, Royal Scots

killed in action 28th April 1917

aged 23

Arras Memorial
Quarrier's Village Roll of Honour

Son of Gottfried Hepner and Alma Jacob
Foster son of Humphrey and Christina Giffen
Husband of Helen McDougall,
Old Manse, Bridge of Weir

His Life

Hepner Godfrey Giffen, the name by which he came to be known, was in fact Gottfried Hepner, the son of Gottfried Hepner, a German-born musician , and Alma Jacob, from Tregory, Cornwall, who had married in Ilfracombe on 29th August 1878. Gottfried was born on 4th September 1893 in 53 Mount Street, Glasgow, the youngest of five children.

In 1891 Gottfried (45), Alma (35), and three of their children Otto, Frederick and Minnie (Minna Henrietta) were living in 62 Mount Street, Maryhill, Glasgow. Bertha was born in 1891. Alma died on 29th December 1893, from internal tumours. Her widower Gottfried died in 1894. The children, except for 16-year-old Otto, were then taken into the care of Quarrier's Homes, Bridge of Weir.

Quarrier's Homes had a programme of sending children to join farming families in Canada and Fred was sent to Ontario in April 1896, Minnie in May 1896, and Bertha in June 1897. Otto Hepner (18), although not taken into care, was one of the party of Quarrier's children on the SS Siberian in March 1897.

Gottfried was not, however, shipped to Canada. He had been fostered to Humphrey Giffen (63), gardener at Quarrier's and later Church Officer and his wife Christina Newbigging (62), matron of Somerville Home at Quarrier's. His name is recorded in the 1901 census as Hepner Giffen aged 7.

In 1911, Hepner (17) was still living with his foster-parents at Quarrier's and was employed as an apprentice joiner.

Hepner signed the Oath of Allegiance on 11th December 1915 and was mobilised into the 3/5th Scottish Rifles on 1st February 1916, with regimental number 566. He was trained initially at Ripon and then at Catterick from 12th April.

Hepner married Helen (Nellie) McDougall, daughter of Robert McDougall, farmer and Jane McGhee in the Old Manse, Bridge of Weir on 25th May, 1916. Helen was 23 and a shop assistant. Hepner was a Private in the 3/5th Scottish Rifles based at Catterick Camp, Yorkshire.

Battle of Arras

Private Giffen first joined the theatre of war in France on 4th June 1916 and was transferred to 16th Battalion, Royal Scots on 11th July 1916. The 16th Royal Scots came under orders of 101st Brigade, 34th Division which had suffered severe losses on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July. The battalion was well known in Scotland as the one raised by Sir George McCrae in Edinburgh that included sixteen members of Heart of Midlothian Football Club and players from many other clubs.

Hepner was killed in action on 28th April 1917, in the attack on the village of Roeux, an engagement in the Battle of Arras. His name is recorded on the Arras Memorial which commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7th August 1918 and have no known grave. Most of the names are those who fell in the Arras offensive of April-May 1917.

Gottfried's widow Helen was awarded a pension of 13/9d a week with effect from 31st December 1917.


1891 Census 1901 Census 1911 Census 1920 Service Record Birthplace
Name Age Name Age Name Age Name Age Address
Otto12 Penzance
Frederick4 Fred33Mountain Grove, OntarioGlasgow
Minna2 Glasgow


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