The assassination of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand on June 28th 1914 in Sarajevo was the catalyst that brought about The Great War. Exactly one year later on the Gallipoli peninsula I’ve discovered my great Uncle Harry aged 23 was killed in action during the Battle of Gully Ravine. Harry’s name is honoured on the HELLES MEMORIAL in Turkey and may possibly be engraved on two war memorials in Lanarkshire in central Scotland.
To my knowledge my ancestor had no direct descendants; there were no fading sepia coloured photos, no paper records of any kind, just a faint memory of a name lost in the battle fields of WW1, HARRY. He was the beloved (adopted/favourite) brother of my maternal Granny Jessie Jardine. She spoke the name with fondness and tearful eyes, and when she had a son born on 11th November he was called after the uncle he never would know. That was the only information I had about the young soldier Harry Jardine who had a premonition during his last leave that he would not be returning.
With nothing more than my mobile phone, wi-fi hotspots and Google searches I set about trying to uncover the story of my WW1 ancestor, particularly as this year is the 100th anniversary of the war beginning. My initial search simply involved tapping Harry’s name alongside the words war memorial and North Lanarkshire. Trawling through the search hits I quickly came across something that struck a chord “son of Francis and Margaret Robb Jardine”, my maternal great grandparents!!! Using this finding as a base I’ve managed to piece together a little narrative that puts some life back into Harry’s memory.
Private Harry Jardine (7465) was born in Motherwell and at the outbreak of war lived in Newarthill. He enlisted in Shotts and joined the 8th Lanark Battalion of The Highland Light Infantry (HLI), which from what I can ascertain was a territorial unit (Lothian Infantry Brigade) that was part of the Scottish Coastal Defence. By mid August 1914 the unit was deployed to the Leith area on the East coast of Scotland. Further searches indicate that the 8th Lanark Battalion was disbanded around May 1916 possibly due to having insufficient numbers for overseas service. However, my initial finding told me that Harry’s battalion had already been attached to the 7th Royal Scots (B’Company) by around April 1915. Using the Royal Scot’s records for further investigation it seems that the company was warned of an overseas deployment around the 5th of April 1915. Confirmation came through on the 7th of May that the troop’s destination was Gallipoli. The soldiers were deployed between the 18th May and 8th June from Liverpool and Devonport. But calamity struck two companies; (I think it was A & C); of the 1/7th Royal Scots when their troop train crashed at Quntinshill near Gretna. Less than seventy men survived without injury, 210 died (3 officers) and 224 (5 officers) were injured. The remaining 7th Royal Scots including B Company continued their journey toward Gallipoli with the first units arriving on 6th June 1915. Some record searches cause confusion because they give the landing date of July 1915, some days after the date of death given for soldiers involved in the Battle of Gully Ravine. It can only be said that so many troops and battalions were arriving in continuous waves that a more generalised average landing date was given to some records.
In at least two Gallipoli records I sourced referred to the 156th division and/or the 52nd Lowland division. Further investigation clarified that the 7th Royal Scots became affiliated to the 156th (Scottish Rifles Brigade) in April of 1915, and the 8th Lanark Battalion was known as the 52nd Lowland as far as I can tell. Therefore any reference to battle involvement by the 156th Brigade of the 52nd (Lowland) Division would most probably involve my great Uncle Harry, and both Gallipoli sources referred to the newly arrived 156th when discussing the Battle of Gully Ravine. I managed to find the war despatches for May and June 1915 of Commanding Officer General Sir Ian Hamilton detailing the Gully Ravine battle. He mentioned how the 156th were initially successful in securing the two Turkish trenches they were assigned to capture but that further progress was limited. Another reference fully explained why my great Uncle Harry and his comrades were like lambs to the slaughter. A full complement of artillery hardware (around 208 pieces) would normally be expected for a fighting unit of that size but only a fraction (77) was available. Added to this was a severe lack of ammunition rounds (about 12,000) most of which were allocated to a front fighting division. This left virtually no protection from artillery for the 156th Division who also went forward with little ammunition!!! Hardly a surprise then that many of the casualties that day came from the 156th Division at a place called Fir Tree Spur. General Sir Ian Hamilton reported that casualties from Gully Ravine were relatively light, some 1750. I can’t help but feel how quickly war can make a man call the loss of nearly two thousand men on a single day “light”.
Reading the Gallipoli roll of honour for the 8th Lanark Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry I found 77 names of whom 36 (including Harry Jardine) died on the same day 28th June 1915 at the Battle of Gully Ravine. Much of the information in that document mentioned place names, streets and surnames that are so familiar to me, and suddenly all those lost soldiers honoured on local war memorials came alive to me. Coming across an article referring to miners who gave the ultimate sacrifice, I vaguely remembered that great Uncle Harry was a miner. This led on to me finding a comprehensive list of names for several local war memorials in North Lanarkshire. I read somewhere that some monuments erected were dedicated to residents of an area whilst others used enlistment details. I knew my Harry lived in Newarthill but had enlisted in Shotts, and on checking these memorials I believe I found him. At the Newarthill monument a Henry Jardine is listed whilst at Shotts a Pte H Jardine HLI is honoured. So at long last I feel there is a local spot in Scotland where I can visit and pay homage to my great Uncle Harry. His name is also engraved on the HELLES MEMORIAL in Turkey Grave Ref Panel No 173 to 177.
I haven’t got any photos or further information to add to this post but if I discover anything else I will report again. So, on this day, the 99th anniversary of the loss of (7465) Pte Harry Jardine my great Uncle, at the going down of the sun I will remember him.