James Hay Smith
1st/7th (Deeside) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders
Died 8th January 1917 age 27
Private J. H. Smith – Gordon Hrs.
James Hay Smith was born at Heugh, Logie-Coldstone on 16 October 1889, which is precisely where his mother Elsie (officially Elspet) was also born in 1863 and married in 1886. Elsie was the daughter of James Hay, a Farm Overseer at the time of her marriage. In 1891, Elsie and her husband James Smith, daughters Elsie aged 4 and Jeannie aged 3, and their youngest, James, were recorded living at Heugh Head with Elsie’s father James Hay who by this time is described as a farmer in his own right. Ten years later, in 1901, James Smith had the farm of Dubbieford, Craiglash, Kincardine O’Neil, and the family were still at Craiglash in 1911, where James and his younger brother Walter were both employed on the farm as horsemen. The 1911 census is interesting on the family generally, as it notes that Elsie had in total 12 children of whom, happily, 12 were still living. These were Elsie born in 1887, Jane (known as Jeannie) 1888, James Hay 1889, Walter 1891, John 1893, George Cran 1894, Gordon 1897, Isabella 1898, Helen 1900, Hector Macdonald and Victor McNaughton (twins) in 1902 and finally Donald Dinnie in 1904 (they were related to Donald Dinnie, famous local strongman and athlete, through James Smith’s mother who was a Dinnie). James enlisted in the 1st/7th (Deeside) Battalion Gordon Highlanders (No.3756). His battalion, as part of the 153rd Brigade of the 51st (Highland) Division, were deployed in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, and in November of that year in fighting on the river Ancre and in actions at Beaucourt and Beaumont Hamel in which the 7th Gordons and the 6th Black Watch were successful in breaching the German front line. It is impossible to know without further information what part precisely Private James Smith played in this action. What we do know is that he died of wounds at a casualty clearing station in France at the age of 27 on 8 January 1917 and is commemorated at Contay British Cemetery. His brothers George and Gordon also served in the war, but survived it.
[I acknowledge with thanks the input of Mrs Irene Crawford, daughter of Victor, and niece of James Hay in compiling this information about her uncle.]