Acting-Corporal, S/7417, Alfred Dawson (k/a- Fred) McWilliam (23) – Killed in Action

1st Gordon Highlanders, 13th July 1915

Alfred Dawson McWilliam from the Aberdeen University Roll of Service.

Aberdeen University Roll of Service

Extract from the above publication :- McWILLIAM, ALFRED DAWSON : Bombing Corporal, 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders; son of James McWilliam, farmer, Garbity, Orton, Morayshire; born Boharm, Banffshire, 24 April 1892. He received his early education at Keith Grammar School and matriculated in Agriculture in 1908. He attended classes in the University for two years and then returned home to assist his father in the management of the Shorthorn herd in Garbity. In June 1914 he received an appointment as manager of a famous Shorthorn herd in the Argentine, but returned home in November of that year to join the Gordons. He went overseas in January and was killed at Hooge on 13 July 1915.

The Morayshire Roll of Honour

The following is an extract from the above 1921 publication :- McWILLIAM, Alfred Dawson. No.7417, Lance-Corporal, Gordon Highlanders, born at Stoneytown, Boharm, April 24th 1892; joined at Aberdeen, 24th November 1914; served in France and Belgium; killed near Hooge, Belgium, July 13th 1915. Son of James McWilliam, Garbity, Orton, Rothes, and Harriet Dawson or McWilliam. Occupation – Farmer.

Family Grave at Dundurcas Churchyard, Moray.

1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders War Diary

The following is an extract from the above diary from the dates 12th and 13th July 1915, the latter being the date of Alfred’s death. The heading is Brandhoek (a small hamlet in Belgium between Ieper, Vlamertinge and Poperinge.

  • 12th July 1915, 6pm – Battalion left for the trenches and relieved the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, 7th Infantry Brigade, relief completed at 1.45am without casualties. Trenches were situated at Hooge and to the West and South of it, this being the most Easterly point of the YPRES Salient.  Quiet night.
  • 13th July 1915 – Uneventful day. Enemy fired a few Trench Mortars without doing any serious damage. Casualties – 1 Killed, 5 Wounded (1 Officer).

As there was only one death that day, it can be assumed that Alfred was killed by the enemy Trench Mortar.

Extract from the 1st Gordon Highlanders War Diary – 13th July 1915.

Further Military and Civilian Research

  • On many of his military documentation, he is simply known as ‘Fred’ McWilliam.
  • ‘Fred’ moved to the French / Belgian Theatre of War on the 18 January 1915.
  • He is honoured and remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium as his body was either never recovered, remained unidentified or most probably was lost in the subsequent fighting.
  • He is honoured and remembered on his parents grave at Dundurcas Churchyard, Moray, Scotland.

Family

Alfred Dawson McWilliam was born on 24th April, 1892 at Boharm, Banffshire. The following family information is taken from the 1901 Census which is registered at Stoneytown Farm, Boharm.

His family is shown as follows :-

  • Father – James McWilliam, born c.1840, died December 1912.
  • Mother – Harriet Dawson or McWilliam, born c.1844, died November 1912.
  • Brother – William, born c.1876 at Boharm, Banffshire – Farmers Son.
  • Sister – Helen S., born c.1877 at Boharm, Banffshire – Farmers Daughter.
  • Sister – Davanna M.D. McWilliam, born c.1884 at Boharm, Banffshire.
  • Brother – Ralph S. McWilliam, born c.1887 at Boharm, Banffshire.

At the time of the census, there was one female domestic servant registered at the house and four male farm labourers.

Addresses

  • The 1901 Census gives his address as Stoneytown Farm, Boharm, Banffshire.
  • Post WW1 his address is given as Garbity, Orton Station, Moray.

Medals

Alfred Dawson McWilliam was awarded the 1914-15 Star, Victory and the British War Medals for his service in the Great War.

Memorials

Alfred Dawson McWilliam is honoured and remembered on the Boharm Old Churchyard Memorial, Rothes War Memorial and Boharm Parish Memorial, all Moray.

Conflicting Information

The only conflicting information I could find was from the document ‘Soldiers Who Died in the Great War’ which states that he was born and enlisted in Glasgow. I believe that this information is incorrect due to the wealth of information to the contrary.

Links to Additional Information

References

  •  Morayshire Roll of Honour.
  •  Aberdeen University Roll of Service.
  •  Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
  • Register of Soldiers Effects.
  • War Diary of the 1st Gordon Highlanders.
  • Medal Index Card.
  • Medal Roll – Gordon Highlanders – Victory and British War Medals.
  • Medal Roll – Gordon Highlanders – 1914-15 Star.
  • Soldiers Who Died in the Great War.

Groups

Contributors:-

  • Vincent Stuart
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