Duncan Hemeline Davidson
Died 9 May 1915 aged 38
Capt. D.H. Davidson – Seaforth Hrs.
Duncan Hemeline Davidson was born at Craigmyle House on 28 March 1877. He was the second child and first son of Duncan Davidson DL, JP, of Inchmarlo and Flora Frances Davidson, daughter of Sir Francis Burdett of Foremark, Derbyshire, who had married at Richmond, Surrey in 1874 – a marriage which produced two sons and two daughters. The family lived first at Craigmyle, later at Inchmarlo. On 6 January1884, when Duncan had not quite reached his seventh birthday, his mother Flora (said to have “endeared herself to all by her kind and charitable disposition”) died of diphtheria at the age of 32. His father remarried in 1887.
Duncan Davidson’s coming of age in 1890 was a big event in the county attracting detailed coverage in the local press. The culmination of jollifications at Inchmarlo which included a large family dinner, picnics and a bicycling party, was a grand dinner at which the Farquhar and Pickering families, among others, were well-represented along with 170 tenants who enjoyed a “sumptuous repast”. There were numerous toasts and replies. It was announced, to the delight of the assembled company, that the young man had adopted farming as his profession. After dinner all adjourned to the drawing room where there was “a choice programme of music” followed by bonfires at the house and on Sluiehill, and a firework display in front of the house.
Unfortunately, the War Office file on this officer appears to have been destroyed, but other sources suggest his plans to settle to a life of farming took a different turn. In 1900 he joined the Seaforth Highlanders from the Militia, was promoted to Captain in 1911, and spent some time as Adjutant to the 4th Seaforths at Dingwall.
In February 1915 the Aberdeen Journal reported that he had been awarded the DSO “in recognition of the conspicuous gallantry and ability he displayed on 11 November 1914 on the Ypres-Menin Road when, after his senior officer had been killed, he commanded his company with great success”, commenting that he had been already twice mentioned in dispatches.
At the time of his death three months later, on 9 May 1915 at the age of 38, Davidson was serving with the 1st Battalion Seaforth Highlanders in an attempt to breach the German front line by an assault on Aubers Ridge. This was a disastrous failure resulting in massive casualties, the allied effort being badly hampered by poor intelligence about the strength of enemy defences, a bombardment which had made little impact on the German wire or their front line machine-gunners, and by inadequate artillery equipment and ammunition. A short notice in the “Scotsman” on 17 May 1915 read as follows:
“His Colonel wrote that he was twice wounded in an advance on the German trenches, but went on leading his company until he finally fell. He was severely wounded in December and invalided home, but rejoined his regiment at the end of March”.
Davidson is commemorated at the Le Touret Memorial. His younger brother, Leslie Evan Outram Davidson, served as a Major in the Royal Field Artillery and was also awarded the DSO.