Donald Gillies, 31 South Dell

Last address in Lewis: 31 South Dell
Son of Angus and Mary Gillies, of 31, South Dell, Ness, Barvas, Stornoway.
Service unit: 2nd Seaforth Highlanders
Service number: 3/6683
Enlisted at Stornoway
Date of death: 4 October 1917 at the age of 23
Killed in action
Interred: Cement House Cemetery, grave XI. E. 26
Local memorial: North Lewis, Cross
Previously wounded at Ypres in April 1915

Donald is shown in the 1901 census at 51 South Dell, the home of his grandparents John and Margaret (both aged 68), where his parents Angus (39, fisherman) and Mary (38) are also present. Donald's siblings Catherine (12), Margaret (5), Angus (3) and Norman also feature.

His brother Norman served in the Trawler section of the RNR, and survived the war.

From the battalion's war diary
The battalion is in action east of Ypres, conducting the battle of Broodseinde, the last battle of Passchendaele.

The Battalion formed up for attack by zero -1 hour on correct alignment in touch with 1st Hampshire on right and R Dublin Fusiliers on left. Coys were closed up to total depth of 120 yards to get clear of EAGLE trench which would have broken formations. Two leading platoons of each assaulting coy carried trench boards in cue of difficulty being found in crossing water and marsh between starting point and KANGAROO trench and LAUDETBEEK. Platoons were to advance in succession under cover of the creeping barrage at correct distances of 100yards between platoons and 150 yards between coys with moppers coy HQs 50 yards in rear of the platoon of each coy.

At zero hour (6 am) leading platoons advanced into barrage, but found great difficulty in keeping alignment owin to water forcing them to follow best ground or the marsh. This caused confusion and resulted in formation of assaulting coys being lost, especially on left where the leading wave walked into our own barrage. KANGAROO trench was reached without coys, platoons being able to disentangle themselves enemy who showed resistance being bayonetted and remainder being passed back. A total of about 25 men were taken prisoner on the front up to KANGAROO trench, including several men were killed by enemy barrage fire on their way back. The left assaulting coy came into some resistance and did not take many prisoners. Coy SM Bain killing 15 enemy to his own bayonet. As the advance proceeded coys endeavoured to regain formation but this was found to be impossible owing to confusion and the excited condition of the men. Up to BEEK STREET trench casualties were not heavy, but from that point onwards machine gun fire was encountered, from left flank generally and this fire caused considerable casualties, both coy commanders and 6 of their platoon commanders of the two left coys being put out of action. Continuing their advance towards their objective, the left coy captured the fortified houses and the right coy advance over 19 Metre Hill. The left coys were unable to advance further, where the remaining men established themselves in shell holes.  

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