Corporal James Laing

Corporal James John Laing, 1st/8th ( Territorial ) Battalion, Royal Scots. He was killed in action, aged 32, in France on the 22nd July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. he had been born in Cockburnspath and was the son of Annie and the late Thomas Laing of ” The Hawthorn’s”, Cockburnspath. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. He had served his apprenticeship as a tailor with his father in Cockburnspath and was assisting in the family business when he enlisted in the 1st/8th R,S. when it was formed in April 1914. The Battalion was one of the first of the Territorials to go to war when it landed in France in November 1914. The Battalion was not directly engaged in the fighting for the infamous ” High Wood” but being the Pioneer Battalion were in the vicinity and suffered greatly from shellfire. Between 22nd-23rd July there were over 100 casualties from shellfire. The Battalion had been designated as the Pioneer Battalion for the 51st ( Highland ) Division and after the War an impressive Memorial was raised in commemoration. It was erected overlooking “Y” Ravine which was taken on the 13th November 1916 when the Division stormed the strong German positions in Beaumont Hamel. A Plaque on the Memorial reads in both English and Gaelic ” Friends Are Good On The Day Of Battle”. The photos show Scots troops on the Somme and the colour image shows a peaceful Somme landscape today with ” no gas, no barbed wire, no guns firing now”.

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