Lachlan Henry Veitch Fraser
4th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment
Died 24 February 1915 age 20
Lieut. L.H.V. Fraser – Middlx. Regt.
Lachlan Henry Veitch Fraser was youngest the son of Major Francis and Alexia Mary Beatrice de Dombal Fraser of Tornaveen, Torphins, which is where he was born on 22 April 1894. He was the fourth of five children, having two older brothers, one older sister and one younger.
We know a lot about the young Lachlan from his form of application for a cadetship in the Royal Military College in December 1912. He attended school first at St Helens College, Southsea, then (from 1908) at Malvern College, where he was a member of the OTC. His headmaster at Malvern, giving a somewhat tentative reference, told the army “He has considerable force of character…He is somewhat thoughtless and impetuous, but shows courage and dash…A fine football player… This boy has plenty of life and go about him & will make a good soldier but I should think he may not be exactly easy to manage…I recommend this boy because I believe that he will come on well, but of course that is rather a matter of instinct than of knowledge on my part”. He further advised: “He comes of a fighting stock”.
Indeed he did. His form gives particulars: great grandfather Francis Fraser a Captain in the Royal Navy, great uncle Col. R. Winchester of the Gordon Highlanders who fought in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo, grandfather Capt. Henderson Macdonald of the 78th Highlanders who served in Persia; a great uncle who served in the Crimea and another in the Baltic; father a Major in the 3rd East Yorkshire Regiment; brothers Francis in the Seaforths and Douglas in the 3rd Gordon Highlanders; cousins the Hon. R. Robertson and Oliver Haig, who had both been in the South African campaign; another cousin who was also a brother-in-law married to his older sister Violet, Capt. A.W. Robertson-Glasgow of the Garhwal Rifles, and finally cousin Lt. Gen. Sir Douglas Haig, later Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Forces in France and Flanders.
Fraser embarked for France in September 1914 as part of the British Expeditionary Force, was promoted to the rank of temporary Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment on 15 November and became a Lieutenant on 1 January 1915. He was Mentioned in Despatches for gallant and distinguished service in the field, only a week before being killed in action at Ypres on 24 February 1915, a few weeks short of his 21st birthday.
The 4th Middlesex had relieved the 2nd battalion Royal Scots in the trenches on 22 February. The battalion were not engaged in any particular action on the 24th which was noted in the diary as a day on which “nothing happened” – except that Lieut. Fraser and three men were killed and another three wounded. A dismal telegram to Major Fraser at Tornaveen on 26 February from the War Office carried the news: “Deeply regret to inform you that Lieut. L.H.V. Fraser 4 Middlesex Regt was killed in action 24 February. Lord Kitchener expresses his sympathy”. Press reports at the time noted that Fraser’s commanding officer described him as “a universal favourite in his regiment and did not know what fear was” and that he was killed instantaneously.
He is buried at Godezonne Farm Cemetery. Mrs Fraser took up correspondence with the War Office regarding her son’s missing effects – his sword, revolver and pocket book. In August that year at least two other children of the family were serving in France: older brother Francis, and younger sister Carey at Dinant.