William Urquhart

Military Information

  • Date of enlistment:
  • Place of enlistment: HMS Unicorn, Dundee
  • Service no: Clyde Z/379
  • Rank: Able Seaman
  • Service Occupation:
  • Awards:
  • Regiment/Service: Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve
  • Unit/Ship: 189th Brigade Machine Gun Corps, R.N. Div
  • Place of Death: France
  • Age at Death: 21
  • Date of Death: 13.11.1916
  • Burial Country: France
  • Cemetery: Ancre British Cemetery, Beaumont-Hamel
  • Grave/Mem Ref no: IV.C.39.

Personal Information

  • Date of Birth:
  • Place of Birth:
  • Address: 120 Victoria Rd, Dundee
  • Occupation:
  • Mother:

    Bessie Urquhart, 3 Derby Pl, Castle St, Broughty Ferry

  • Father:

    William Urquhart

  • Siblings:
  • Spouse:
  • Children:

More about William Urquhart

William Urquhart was the son of Mrs Bessie Fraser, formerly Urquhart, of 1 Commercial Street, Dundee, 120 Victoria Road, Dundee and 58 Castle Street, Broughty Ferry and the late Mr William Urquhart, Chemist. He was one of the first group of local men who volunteered to join the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve onboard HMS Unicorn for service in the Royal Naval Division. After initial Naval Training at the Crystal Palace in South London he was drafted to A Company of the Drake Battalion which was sent to Blandford Camp in Dorset for advanced military training at the end of 1914. At the end of February 1915 the Drake Battalion sailed with eight other Battalions of the Royal Naval Division for the Eastern Mediterranean. Landing in Mudros harbour on the Greek Island of Mudros the men of Drake prepared for operations ashore in support of an Allied Naval force attempting to fight a way through the Turkish mine and gun defences. The attempt failed and Allied troops including the Drake Battalion were landed on Gallipoli in late April. The Drakes took part in two offensives in May and June to capture the village of Krithia but both attacks failed with heavy casualties. From July to January 1916 men from the Drake Battalion manned the front lines and repulsed Turkish attacks whilst suffering steady casualties from these actions and from disease. William Urquhart was admitted to a Field Hospital on 1 October suffering from Pleurisy and Diarrhoea and was evacuated to the UK on the Hospital Ship Mauretania at the end of the month. He was treated at the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, Gosport, Hampshire, being released in March 1916. In May he returned to Blandford Camp after 28 days recuperation leave and trained as a Vickers Machine Gunner. In September he sailed to France from Folkstone to join the 189 Brigade Machine Gun Company and prepared for the final battle of the Somme Campaign. This attack took place on 13 November. One of the first day’s objectives of the British attack on 1 July 1916 was the capture of the village of Beaucourt just to the west of the River Ancre. It was finally taken on 14 November by the men of the RND. This was the first major operation by the RND in France and established a reputation for being a “Can Do” Division. However, the casualty list was very long and over 30 local men were killed and countless more wounded. This was the worst ever day for Dundee’s Naval forces in the First World War. William Urquhart was listed as Missing but his next of kin received a letter from a “Pte S Smith” who said he buried William’s body. Further enquiries established that he was buried at a map reference. His body was recovered and William Urquhart is buried in the Ancre British Cemetery, Beaumont-Hamel, Northern France.

William Urquhart   CZ/379   Machine Gun Section   R.N.D.

URQUHART—Officially reported killed in action on 13th Nov., A.B. William Urquhart, Machine Gun Section, R.N.D., aged 21, only son and dearly loved son of the late William Urquhart, chemist, and Mrs Urquhart, 120 Victoria Road, Dundee.—Inserted by his mother and sister.

Dundee People’s Journal 6th January 1917

Additional information kindly supplied by Michael Caldwell.

Further information supplied by Iain Stewart and Iain Birnie

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