John William Gavin
9th Light Horse Regiment, Australian Infantry Force
Died 9 August 1916 age 25
Private J. Gavin – Aus. Ex. Force
John William Gavin was born at 13 St Peter Street, Peterhead on 9 November 1890, son of Grain Merchant John Gavin from Udny and Mary George Cruikshank from Elgin who had married at Fraserburgh in 1888. In 1891 the Gavins were at Peter Street, Peterhead, including four month old John William and his two year old brother, Thomas R. Ten years on they were at Mill of Leslie, Insch, where father John was working as both miller and farmer and the family had expanded to five boys and three girls. John Gavin later had the mill at Mill of Ennets, and the children attended school at Tornaveen.
Gavin emigrated to Australia, probably in about 1910 to work (like George Gordon and William Bews) on the railways. His enlistment papers show that he was employed at that time as an engine cleaner and was allocated to the 9th Light Horse Regiment of the Australian Infantry Force (no.1385), and dispatched to the Dardanelles as part of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade. He sailed to Heliopolis in December 1915 at about the time of the Allies’ withdrawal following unsuccessful effort to capture the Gallipoli peninsula. The regiment proceeded to Serapeum at the end of February 1916 where the 3rd Light Horse as part of the ANZAC Mounted Division participated in the defence of the Suez Canal from the Turks, the wider strategy of the Allies being to push the Ottoman army out of the Sinai Peninsula. On 9 August 1916 the 9th Light Horse were engaged in a confrontation with Turkish artillery in the course of which John Gavin was first thought to be missing having been taken prisoner, but it was after confirmed that he had been killed in action.
On 23 September 1916 the Aberdeen Journal reported: “Official information has been received by Mr John Gavin, 52 Whitehall Place, and late of Mill of Ennets, Torphins, that his son, Trooper J. W. Gavin, Australian Imperial Force, has been killed in action. Trooper Gavin, who was 25 years of age, was for six years engaged on the South Australian Railways. Prior to emigrating to Australia he was employed with the Caledonian Railway Company at Glasgow”.
Mrs Gavin received a memorial scroll and plaque and her son’s effects: an identity disc, wallet, 2 letters, photograph, postcard, writing paper case, Musketry book, Letter, Pipe, badges and handkerchief.
Gavin is buried at Kantara War Memorial Cemetery in Egypt and is also commemorated on the Aberdeen City Roll of Honour.