James Smith Robertson
1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders
Died 18 July 1916
Private J. S. Robertson – Gordon Hrs.
Private James Smith Robertson was a son of William Robertson and Barbara Maria Smith. William was born in Banchory Ternan and Barbara came originally from Echt. Their son James was born on 26 April 1895 at Pitcullen, Kincardine O’Neil, fifteen minutes before a twin brother, William. Father William worked at various times as a farm servant/labourer, ploughman at Milton of Learney and gardener. The family lived at Kirkbrae and at Cothill (Craigmyle) and (after 1911) at the Morrice School. Census records show that, aside from the twin boys, there was a sister Margaret (one year older) and a younger brother by four years, Joseph.
James Robertson enlisted at Aberdeen in the 1st Bttn Gordon Highlanders.
The battle of the Somme commenced on 1 July 1916 and continued to November when weather made it impossible for the fighting to continue. On 18 July the 3rd Division, of which the 1st Gordons formed part, had the task of recapturing those parts of Delville Wood from which the enemy had not been driven in the course of fierce combat in the preceding few days. Robertson’s battalion were ordered to make an assault on the village of Longueval, on the south-western edge of the wood. They had a degree of success at first, but the ground they gained had to be given up in the face of a fierce artillery bombardment. A transcribed extract from the battalion war diary for that day reads as follows;
“Patrols set out at 2am, orders to attack Longueval village next morning. Assembly at 2am, assault at 3.45am, successful, but strong points North of Delville Wood remained in enemies hands. Counter attacks, intensive shelling for 7 hours, very heavy losses, 4 officers killed, 7 wounded, 321 ORs killed wounded or missing. Evacuated village.”