Private, 267954, John Anderson (21) – Killed in Action

9th Royal Highlanders (Black Watch),  20 September 1917

Grave of John Anderson – © International War Graves Project

Synopsis of Life and Military Service

John Anderson was born circa 1897 at Mortlach, Banffshire, he was the youngest son of around ten children to Alexander and Isabella Anderson, the father being a Farm Servant. His mother and father are shown as residing at Clunybeg Cottage, Auchindoun, Dufftown in the 1881,1891 and 1901 Census. The 1911 Census has not been viewed, however, as his parents are shown as residing at this address after his death, it can be assumed they also resided there during this time. John was a farm servant prior to his enlistment.

Very little is known about his military service as his Military Record was destroyed, but it is known that he enlisted in Aberdeen initially into the Scottish Horse, although this is not reflected in his surviving records but comes from his family recollections. He was then transferred to the Royal Highlanders (Black Watch), serving in the 4th/5th Battalion as Private, 7566, then to the 6th Battalion as Private, 6023 and then finally as Private 2667954 into the 9th Battalion, he would have transferred to France and Flanders sometime between the start of 1916 and his death. These dates are known due to the awarding of his Service medals.

It is believed via a press release that John went to France in January 1917 and returned to the UK with an injury around June of that year. Sometime in August 1917, he returned to the front with the 9th Royal Highlanders.

It would appear that on on the 20th September 1917, John was part of a working party on the front line when he was killed along with another soldier and three others wounded. The battalion at the time were in a relatively quiet period with two companies at a time relieving each other, while the other two companies rested and trained at Stirling Camp which is believed to have been at St. Laurent-Blangy, Pas de Calais, France.

He is buried and honoured at Level Crossing Cemetery, Fampoux, Pas de Calais, France.

His mother Isabella is shown as being the recipient of his pension and money due as specified in his Pension Card and The Register of Soldiers Effects so it is possible his father had died by this time.

War Diary of the 9th Royal Highlander (Black Watch) – 20th September 1917

The War Diary of the 9th Battalion Royal Highlanders (Black Watch) for the 20th September 1917 shows a relatively quiet day while in the Front Line. It’s recorded as follows:-

“2 O.R. (Other Ranks) killed & 3 O.R. wounded on working party in front line.

(Editors note – It would appear that John was one of these soldiers killed and the only other member of the 9th killed that day and buried at Level Crossing Cemetery was Private, 16591, Thomas Kerr who resided with his wife and children at 95 High Street, Perth).

Clunybeg Cottage, Auchindoun the former home of John Anderson – © Ian Sharp

Aberdeen Weekly Journal dated 28 September 1917

Extract from the above publication:-

Dufftown – Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, Clunybeg Cottage, Auchindoun, have received a letter from Captain Proudfoot, Black Watch, informing them that their youngest son, Private John Anderson was instantaneously killed by a shell on the 20th inst (September). On the outbreak of war he was mobilised with the Scottish Horse, and was afterwards transferred to the Black Watch. He went to the front in January, 1917, and was invalided home in June last, returning to the front five weeks ago. Before the war he was a farm servant.


John Anderson was born on circa 1897 at Mortlach, Banffshire. The following family information is taken from the 1881,1891 and 1901 Census.

It is shown as follows :-

  • Father: Alexander Anderson, born c.1842 at Mortlach, Banffshire : Farm Servant. (d.6/6/1924)
  • Mother: Isabella Jane Wilson or Anderson, born c.1858 at Grange, Banffshire. (d.12/5/1942)
  • Sister: Margaret, born c.1875 at Mortlach, Banffshire. (d.23.12.1887)
  • Brother: James, born c.1878 at Mortlach, Banffshire. (d.27/5/1950)
  • Sister: Jane F., born c.1879 at Mortlach, Banffshire.
  • Sister: Isabella, born c.1881 at Mortlach, Banffshire. (d.6/5/1961)
  • Brother: Alexander, born c.1883 at Mortlach, Banffshire. (d.11/7/1925)
  • Sister: Mary, born c.1885 at Mortlach, Banffshire.
  • Brother: William, born c.1887, died 9 February 1888.
  • Brother: George, born c.1889 at Mortlach, Banffshire. (d.10/2/1940)
  • Sister: Catherine, born c.1891 at Mortlach, Banffshire. (d.16.1.1926)
  • Sister: Elsie, born c.1894 at Mortlach, Banffshire.
  • Sister: Elizabeth, born 1895, died 16 April 1895 aged 2 months.

Alexander and Isabella, his mother and father were married at Keith, Banffshire on the 5 June 1875.

In the 1901 census, there is also shown as being two of John’s nephews and niece’s in Clunybeg Cottage, namely Margaret born c.1898 and William born c.1900.

Family Headstone of John Anderson at Mortlach Cemetery, Dufftown.©Vincent Stuart


The following addresses have been ascertained for John Anderson :-

  • 1917 – Clunybeg Cottage, Dufftown, Banffshire.


John Anderson was awarded the Victory and the British War Medals for his service in the Great War.


John Anderson is honoured and remembered on the Mortlach War Memorial, Dufftown, Banffshire, although his unit on the memorial is shown as the Scottish Horse.

Links to Additional Information


  • Medal Index Card.
  • Register of Soldiers Effects.
  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
  • Find a Grave.
  • 1881 Census.
  • 1891 Census.
  • 1901 Census.
  • Medal Roll – Royal Highlanders – British War Medal and Victory Medal.
  • Pension Card.
  • Soldiers Died in the Great War.
  • Aberdeen Weekly Journal dated 28 September 1917.
  • Family Headstone, Mortlach, Dufftown.



  • Vincent Stuart.
  • Ian Sharp (Photo of house)
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