Great War Dundee
This is Dundee's story of those that served in the First World War, and of the people left at home
- Date of enlistment:
- Place of enlistment: Dundee
- Service no: 43330
- Rank: Private
- Service Occupation:
- Regiment/Service: Highland Light Infantry
- Unit/Ship: 17th Battalion
- Place of Death: France
- Age at Death:
- Date of Death: 18.11.1916
- Burial Country: France
- Cemetery: New Munich Trench British Cemetery, Beaumont-Hamel
- Grave/Mem Ref no: C.8.
- Date of Birth:
- Place of Birth: 25 James St, Dundee
- Address: 25 James Street, Dundee
Elizabeth McGuigan, 25 James St, Dundee
Charles McGuigan, 25 James St, Dundee
More about Joseph McGuigan
43330 Pte Joseph McGuigan 17th Bn Highland Light Infantry
Joseph was a Dundee man born and bred, being born at 25 James Street, Dundee to parents Charles and Elizabeth McGuigan, Joseph appears from the Census returns to have been an only child , being born when his parents were 43 and 40 years old respectively. It also appears from Census returns that the small family were very stable and settled and at the same address right through Josephs life, even his pension after death is awarded to his mother at the same address.
We know that the Father, Charles was a General Labourer and Joseph himself by the 1911 census is employed as a Hairdressers Assistant. Might he have been learning the job ?? or was this perhaps all the employ he could achieve at that time ?? His father by this time is 63 and his mother 60 so likely his income, (supplemented by the presence of a boarder in the household), and being an only child was very likely important to the small family
In the absence of a service record per se we have some difficulty in identifying with accuracy his military service. We do know however that he first was enlisted to the Highland Cyclists Bn with the Service No 1805. The exact mechanism of this is unclear but it does seem possible that he was attested to this number and Bn under the Derby Scheme, placed immediately on the reserve and then called forward later. Derby Scheme afforded men the opportunity to register for service and be called forward when required rather than volunteer immediately or wait to be conscripted which came along only a few months later. I have encountered this quite frequently in researching our Dundee men and it appears to have been common to find them registered and attested to one Regiment and being called forward, embodied, trained and mobilised in another regiment when required for service.
The likelihood of a Derby Scheme registration seems to me to be supported by the facts that his civilian income was likely important to the household and this might have given him some leeway to register rather than volunteer immediately for service and the fact that his Medal Index Card does not show a date of entry to the BEF. Whilst by no means conclusive, where a serviceman might have qualified for a 1914 Star or 1914/15 Star then the date of entry to theatre is usually recorded. In Josephs case it is not recorded perhaps supporting that he did not enter BEF until after the end of qualifying date for 1914/15 Star at the end of 1915
This might be further supported by the fact that we know the 17th Bn HLI was a Kitchener New Army Battalion, adopted by and dubbed the “Glasgow Chamber of Commerce” Battalion HLI and only landed in France in November 1915 as part of the 32nd New Army Division, Might Joseph have been with them by this time ? It is certainly possible, perhaps even likely
The Bn were actively involved in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and they have a well written history available to peruse. Perhaps the most significant was during the period 17 -19 November when after the 51st Highland Division had successfully taken Beaumont Hamel and the Hawthorn Crater the 32nd Div with 17th Bn HLI, (and their sister Bn the 16th HLI), were on the Redan Ridge area and specifically tasked to exploit the gains already made by attacking and taking Munich Trench at Beaumont Hamel. This, for a variety of reasons including weather conditions, ineffective artillery support and strong enemy Machine Gun fire resulted in significant losses to the Bn of in excess of 300 on the 18th November alone, Joseph was among that number
Joseph along with many of his Bn mates now lies in the small, Battlefield Cemetery just to the North East of Beaumont Hamel Village , known as Munich Trench Cemtery. He is not the only Dundee lad lying here…………..
Additional information and image kindly supplied by Jim Flood
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