Since World War I is very much on people’s minds this week, it seems appropriate to post this message, which i received from Betty McLean. A touching letter was very kindly shared with me. It was sent to the parents of a young Blantyre man, John McGill killed during the first World War. The letter was written by Hugh Gill, a friends in the trenches of similar surname. I would point out clearly John’s parents knew of his death before this letter was received. John’s name is also remembered on the war memorial in High Blantyre Cemetery.
Betty has this letter, as John was her second cousin. He is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves. A copy of the original letter is attached, although typed out below for easier reading.
Pte Hugh Archibald Gill 1053
1/8 Scottish Rifles Y boy
Egyptian Exped Force
Dear Friends, 9/1/1917
I hope you won’t be angry with me for writing to you, as I am writing——-to let you know that I am sorry to hear of John being killed. As him and I were great friends and I must tell you I have lost one of my best friends and that is John, I have lost another of my pals he got shot through the head——with a sniper while he was getting leave. So I am left alone now May God have Mercy on their Souls. Well, Dear friends I don’t suppose John has told you about me as you won’t know who I am or never seen me before, But I hope you won’t be angry with me and I am sorry my dear chum has gone from me and I miss him very much, So it was no use writing any more as it may upset you. So I will close now hoping you and your husband the very best of good health. As I am getting on very well but I got wounded through the foot out here and it gives me a little pain now and again and I hope to be alright soon.
So I will close now please excuse writing and the mistakes as I am in a desperate Hurry.
With Kind Regards.
Yours Sincerely Friends
p.s I wish you and your husband A Happy New Year and the Best of Good Luck and fond wishes. Remain with you Always
Name: McGILL, JOHN Initials: J Nationality: United Kingdom Rank: Private Regiment/Service: Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) Unit Text: 2nd Bn. Age: 19 Date of Death: 25/10/1916 Service No: 17210 Additional information: Son of William McGill and Mary Strickland McGill, of Allison Place, Springwell, Blantyre, Lanarkshire. Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead Grave/Memorial Reference: Pier and Face 4 D. Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
I found out that John was born in 1897 and died in Flanders in France. Therefore his colleague writing the letter had moved from Europe to Egypt. John McGill is buried at Thiepval, Department de la Somme, Picardie, France, not too far from where he fell.