On the Kincardine O’Neil memorial this soldier’s initials are W. G. but on the Torphins memorial D. R. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission have no record of a New Zealand casualty with the initials W. G. and no one on their list of W. G. Frasers looks on the face of it to have any connection with Kincardine O’Neil, though these records are by no means the final word on the matter.
Duncan Reid Fraser
New Zealand Training Unit, Trentham Regiment, 2nd Battalion
Died 21st July 1915
There is however a New Zealand entry for Duncan Reid Fraser, matching the Torphins initials, who was a son of James Fraser of Gallowcairn, Torphins, born 26 January 1892. It appears that he emigrated to Australia and settled in Auckland. In the spring of 1915, he was called up for compulsory military training, giving his occupation as “Farm Labourer”, certified fit in April, and assigned on 28 May as Rifleman (no. 24/145) in the New Zealand Training Unit, Trentham Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Company A.
Fraser took ill, and was admitted to hospital in Wellington on 22 June 1915 where he died a month later on 21 July of cerebro-spinal meningitis. His body was moved to Auckland for burial, as his sister was there. He is buried in the Fraser Road Public Cemetery, Pokeno. Aucklandmuseum.com’s online Cenotaph has a tinted portrait of him pre-war, a photograph of his funeral procession, and of his gravestone “Erected by his Comrades”.
It seems Fraser’s father remained at Gallowcairn until after the war, though he was at Broombrae when he acknowledged receipt of a memorial plaque and scroll (possibly in the early 1920s – the papers are undated). The family had a strong connection with the locality, as revealed by an article in the Aberdeen Press & Journal on 7 June 1919 celebrating Fraser’s centenarian granny Mrs George Fraser, under the heading “An Echt Centenarian”. Mrs Fraser’s husband had farmed at Upper Fittie and, despite her very advanced age, it was noted that she had made her own contribution to the war effort: “She has always been a great knitter and regularly wove [yes, wove] socks for the soldiers”.