Lieutenant Colonel John McNeile

Lieutenant Colonel John McNeile, 1st/4th ( Border ) Battalion, Kings Own Scottish Borderers. He was killed in action at Gallipoli, aged 52, on 12th July 1915 during the ” Charge ” on the Turkish trenches at Achi Baba Nullah and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey. John McNeile lived at Kippielaw House, Bowden, was a Major in the Reserve Coldstream Guards and a member of the Territorial Force Association of Selkirkshire. He had retired from the Coldstream Guards in 1905 and was then appointed as Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial 4th K.O.S.B.  On that fateful day the Colonel and his Adjutant, Captain James Lang from Newstead were up with the leading waves at the non existent third line of Turkish trenches having captured the first two lines of Turkish trenches. He soon realised that there was no trench and no cover for the men and shouted to his men to retire to the captured second trench.  They were thereafter both reported missing believed killed and their bodies were not recovered. That day became known as the ” Black day of the Borders” as only 70 unwounded men answered evening roll call out of the over 700 Officers and men who had begun the attack.  In Bowden Kirk there is a Memorial Bell ( 1924 ) which was bequeathed to the Kirk by Lieut. Col. McNeile in a soldier’s will. In 1891 he had married Oonagh Edwina Conolly the daughter of Lieutenant Colonel John Augustus Conolly V.C. (He had won his award on 26th October 1854 during the Crimean War whilst serving with the 49th Regiment of Foot). The first photo shows Achi Baba marked with a cross. This “hill” was dominated the battlefield and was never captured. The second shows the Borderers attacking at Gallipoli and the third shows the battlefield in 1922. ( There is an excellent account of the day in Gavin Richardson’s book ” For King Country and the Scottish Borders” ).

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