Private James Gradon Middlemiss

Private James Gradon Middlemiss, 4th Regiment , ( South African Scottish ),South African Infantry.  He was killed in action in France on 19th July 1916 aged 40 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Thiepval, Somme, France. He was born in Berwick but early in life had gone to South Africa. He fought in the Boer War and in German South West Africa. Following the outbreak of the War he joined the South African Contingent fighting in Egypt before going to France. He was the son of the late James Middlemiss, Cabinetmaker, Castlegate, Berwick upon Tweed and the husband of Bridget Middlemiss of 18 Wool Market, Berwick-upon-Tweed. He fell during the fierce fighting to capture Delville Wood ( part of the general Battle of Bazentin Ridge which was fought between 14th-17th July). The Battle was very costly for the South Africans who were part of the 9th ( Scottish ) Division and was fought amongst shattered trees, German counter attacks and heavy defensive artillery fire. The wood was not finally cleared until 5th September. The Wood is now the site of a very impressive monument to the South African Brigade and is the South African National Memorial. ( photograph below ) The photographs show the wood after the Battle and the colour image depicts a peaceful Somme landscape today.

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