David Smith Merchant
9th (Pioneer) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders
Died 25 July 1917 age 25
Private D. Merchant – Gordon Hrs
This is David Smith Merchant of the 9th (Pioneer) Bn (no. S/11218). He was a son of Alexander Merchant and Martha Ross or Merchant. Alexander had the farm at Burnside of Ennets and was a native of Lumphanan. Martha began life at Leochel Cushnie. Their son David was born at Burnside of Ennets on 21 April 1891. The 1901 Census reveals that Alexander and Martha had at least four children besides David, all born in the parish of Kincardine O’ Neil, namely Jane and Mary who were elder sisters of David (then 16 and 13), and George and Maggie (8 and 3) who were younger.
In the 1911 Census Merchant is registered living away from home, and in the household of George Milne, Farm Grieve, as a farm foreman at Little Kinnord. In due course he enlisted and was taken into the 9th (Pioneer) Battalion of the Gordons with whom, (as part of the army’s15th Division) he was killed in action aged 25 on 25 July 1917.
In the weeks before 25 July 1917 the 9th Gordons had been engaged in repairing roads and bridges, clearing and repairing shelled trenches, renewing sandbagging, creating a new cable trench and laying cables, erecting wire and camouflage, making and clearing drains, and in the construction of a light railway. The battalion war diary reported that work was regularly stopped by bombardments and gas shelling, sometimes continuing from dusk till dawn. Orders on 23 July 2017 revealed that an offensive involving the 15th Division was imminent, in which the role of the battalion, working with the Royal Engineers, would be to construct tracks for supporting artillery and horse transport. On 29 July the GOC 15th Division commended the 9th Gordons on the manner in which they had carried out their work over the past 4 weeks “under conditions of considerable difficulties”. It is unclear exactly what happened to Merchant but the difficulties in his case clearly proved fatal. He is buried or commemorated at Ypres Town Cemetery Extension.
After the war Merchant’s bereaved parents were living at Gallowfields, Findrack.