William Simpson Thomson
3/4th Battalion, Gordon Highlanders
Died 25th September 1915 age 17
Private W. Thomson – Gordon Hrs.
This is probably William Simpson Thomson born 21 April 1898 at Greenburn Cottage, Torphins, son of Alexander Smith Thomson, Quarry Labourer (presumably at Craiglash), and Annie Farquharson who had married at Birse. In 1901 the family were living in Torphins and he was the fifth of six siblings. By 1911 the Thomsons had moved to Hawthorn Cottage and William was attending school.
Thomson enlisted at Aberdeen in June 1915 (no. 3963) in the 3/4th Battalion Gordon Highlanders, a territorial Battalion formed in February that year. He must have seen very little of the war before being killed in action only weeks later on the first day of the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915. On 24 September the Battalion was entrenched in Sanctuary Wood, preparing to participate in a major offensive commencing in the early hours of the following morning. Following coffee at 1.30am, the men moved into position and a preparatory bombardment began at 4.05am. After some initial success in penetrating the German front line, it proved impossible to retain control of the ground that had been gained in the face of heavy artillery fire which intercepted the supply of ammunition and bombs, and the Battalion was forced to withdraw to the position from which it had set out. Casualties were heavy, and William Thomson, aged 17, was one of them.
According to a report in the Aberdeen Daily Journal on 2 November 1915, Private Thomson was employed before the war at “Mrs Duncan’s sawmill” at Inchmarlo, and his father had moved into the slightly gentler employment of gardener at Glassel House and Learney, and was now living at Woodbine Cottage, Glassel.
He is commemorated at the Menin Gate, Ypres.