back to front The Buchan Boys
go to foot of page see Fiona's page for details from the War Graves Commission

As far as I can work out, John top, Alex bottom left and Jim bottom right

Postcard from Jim to Belle,  1915(?) front and back


Great Uncle Jim in the dress of the Gordon Highlanders


Feb 2002 - I'm currently reading 1915 - The Loss of Innocence by Lyn McDonald, which is well written.  It draws a lot on the journals of the men in the field, and is highly effective as a gateway to that time, which becomes vital as the events themselves slip out of living memory.

Here is another site which gives details and photos of WW1. And  details are given here of Bruce Bairnsfather, a captain in WW1 who became famous for his cartoons depicting life in the trenches. One of the most well known featured two comrades taking shelter during a bombing raid, the one yelling to the other "Well, if you knows of a better 'ole, let's go to it!!". I still have a few of the original cartoon collections entitled "Fragments from France". 



These are my mother's three uncles, who fought in World War I.  Jim and John served in the Fourth Army, XV Corps, 7th Division, 20th Brigade, 2nd battalion, The Gordon Highlanders.  John started off in Egypt, then came to France via Southampton.  I think Jim went straight to France.

Alex came back, Jim and John did not. The following is a newspaper article relating parts of a letter home from one son.  I can't tell which, but it's probably Jim, given the machine gunner reference and the card of the gunners sent by him to our grandmother. 

Web page giving detailed military history of the battles in which both men died.

 Details of John Buchan.


Monymusk Private's Graphic Story

A graphic story of the the fighting at Mons is given by a wounded Gordon highlander to his father, Mr. Alexander Buchan, builder, Monymusk. Private Buchan, who is a machine gunner in the Gordon Highlanders, was wounded at Mons, and is at present lying in Netley Hospital. In his letter, he says,

 I had my usual luck for a start, but better luck next time. The only thing I am sorry about is that I have not got the bullet for a memento, but it was in such a hurry that it went right through me.

We had a pretty stiff day of it last Sunday. The battalion went into small trenches in front of a wood a few miles to the right of Mons, and the Germans had the range to a yard. .. The shells were bursting all over the place. It was a bit of a funny sensation but you soon got used to it.  You would hear it coming singing through the air over your head; then it would give a mighty big bang and you would see a great flash, and there would be a shower of lumps of iron and rusty nails all round your ears.  They kept on doing that all Sunday, sometimes three or four at the same time, but none of them hit me. I was too fly for them.

Their artillery is pretty good, but the infantry are no good at all. They advance in close column, and you simply can't help hitting them. I opened fire on them with the machine gun and you could see them go over in heaps, but it didn't make any difference. For every man that fell ten took his place.  That is their strong point.  They have an unlimited supply of men. 

They think they can beat any army in the world simply by hurling great masses of troops against them, but they are finding out their mistake now that they are up against British troops. 


Jim died in the Battle of the Somme, possibly at The Attack on High Wood, John at (I think) the Battle of Festubert.

 Website of the Gordon Highlanders museum in Aberdeen.  

Medals Donated to Gordon Highlanders Museum (Aug 2003)

Uniforms and eleven medals of the late Brigadier General Sir George Standish Craufurd have been put on display at the Museum of the Gordon Highlanders in Aberdeen. Sir George was one of Scotland's most distinguished soldiers. He fought on the north-west frontier of India towards the end of the 19th century and later in the Boer War in South Africa as a company commander in the 1st Gordon Highlanders. The young Winston Churchill, as a war correspondent, described the regiment as "the finest in the World". Craufurd was captured by the Boers but escaped before an order to have him shot could be carried out. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his bravery in South Africa. He later commanded the 1st Gordon Highlanders in France in World War I. But he certainly did not command far from the front lines and was wounded five times during that war.


And here is Bella Buchan ( my mum sometimes referred to her as Belle and sometimes Bella), with George Stephen, and one of their babies.  We don't know which one; we think it's Elsie.


Deirdre wrote - Elsie was the only one with fair hair. 


See Fiona's page for memorial info on the Buchan Boys

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