Bridge of Weir

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Captain John Gray

5th Battalion attached 2nd
Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

killed in action 21st September 1918

aged 27

Domino British Cemetery, Epehy
St Machar's Church Memorial
Ranfurly Castle Golf Club Memorial
Glasgow Academy Memorial
University of Glasgow Memorial

Son of John Gray and Amelia Hopper
Airlie, Bridge of Weir

His Life

John Gray was born about 1891 in England, the youngest of a family of three born to John Gray, a Burma rice merchant from Paisley, and Amelia Elizabeth Hopper from Gillingham, Kent, who had married in Rangoon, Burma on 7th May 1887. John was 40 and Amelia 24.

In 1891 Amelia (28), and her two young daughters Marguerite and Isabella who had been born in Rangoon, Burma, were living in Gravesend, Kent with Amelia's aunt Rebecca Hopper.

By 1901 John Gray (54) had retired and was living with his family in Airlie, a 13-roomed house in Prieston Road, Bridge of Weir. They employed a domestic servant Christina McDougall (25) from Islay.

John's mother Amelia died in 1908 at the age of 45, when John was 16.

In 1911, John Gray senior, widower, and his family were still living in Airlie. John junior (19) was a law apprentice, and there were two domestic servants; Jessie Urquhart from Gairloch and Evelyn Duff from Glasgow, both 28.

John took Scots Law and Conveyancing classes at Glasgow University from 1911 to 1913, and was an apprentice in McLay, Murray and Spens, writers and solicitors in Glasgow. He was in the Territorials and enlisted as a private in the 9th H.L.I. when the war began, and received his commission in the 5th (Territorial) Argylls in November 1914. The 5th Argylls served in Gallipoli from July 1915 and Egypt from 1916 until April 1918, taking part in Allenby's successful campaign in Palestine. John Gray was promoted to Captain, but reverted to Lieutenant when was transferred to France on 22nd April 1918. He was attached to 2nd Battalion of the Argylls, which formed part of 98th Brigade, 33rd Division. The Divisional history lists his name when killed as an officer in the 1st Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, also in the 98th Brigade but this is an error. The War Diaries of the 2nd Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders record his period of service and his death in action.

98th Brigade was part of an assault force on the outer defences of the Hindenburg Line near Villers Guislain, at the Canal de St. Quentin on 21st September 1918. Villers Guislain had exceptionally strong defences of concrete pill-boxes and machine gun posts manned by the 14th Jaeger Regiment of Germany's Alpine Corps, a crack outfit. On 21st September the 2nd Argylls were ordered to bomb down the trench system known as "Leith Walk" while the 19th Brigade made a frontal attack. The Unit War Diaries state:

"The 19th Brigade attack was made under a barrage and was only partially successful. "B"Coy's attack reached its objective, and Lt. Gray who headed the assault was seriously wounded and subsequently died in trying to establish touch with the 19th Brigade south of LEITH WALK...
Eventually at about 10 a.m. when no signs of the 19th. Brigade were seen, "B" and "D" Coys. withdrew to their original positions after having suffered about 25 casualties."


1891 Census 1901 Census 1911 Census Birthplace
Name Age Name Age Name Age
Marguerite3 Marguerite A13Margaret A23 Rangoon, Burma
Isabella C1 Cecilia I12Cecilia I21 Rangoon, Burma
John9John19 England


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