James Reid Findlay

James Reid Findlay

2nd Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps

Died 30 June 1916

Private R. J. Findlay – King’s Royal Rifles

This is James Reid Findlay (J.R. not R.J.).  He was born on 31 July 1889 at Blairhead Farm, Campfield, near Torphins, son of a farmer, George and his wife Isobella Reid who had married at Coull in 1882. In 1891, he was the youngest child of a large family and in 1901 he was the middle child of five still living at home, having three sisters and a brother. He enlisted at London (though his address at the time was Stonehaven), and became a Rifleman of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps 2nd Bn. (No. R/17568). He was killed in action on the Western Front on 30 June 1916 possibly in a frustrated attack on enemy lines that evening.

            The battalion War Diary records preparations for an attack on enemy trenches in the days preceding 30 June 1916, including practice in model trenches, and gives a vivid account of the day. On 30 June there was a “quiet morning and afternoon” and at 7.30pm the battalion less parties selected for the attack moved into billets. The remainder moved into the starting places allotted to them and by 8.30pm were all ready. At 9pm bridges were put up and the enemy either saw this or the men assembling in the trenches, and opened heavy fire with trench mortars and artillery causing many casualties. At 9.15pm three mines were sprung and at 9.16pm the column went over the parapet. The diary noted that the two parties on the right failed to penetrate defensive heavy wire and consequently “what remained of them” turned south to join up with and assist the Royal Sussex Regiment, but their joint efforts were unsuccessful on account of wire and machine gun fire. The centre column reached and entered the enemy trench, but found its right on the receiving end of a bombing attack, and did not succeed in joining up with the left column. The senior officer on the spot Major W.D. Barber ordered a withdrawal. The left column rushed the trench appointed to them and remained in action till 3am when they were also ordered to withdraw.  The battalion’s casualties of this unsuccessful raid were 35 officers and men killed or died of wounds, 173 wounded and 24 missing.

Private Findlay is commemorated on the Arras memorial.