Private John Neillans

Private John James Neillans, 9th ( Service ) Battalion, Black Watch. He was killed in action in France on 25th September 1915, aged 23 on the first day of the Battle of Loos. He had been born in Linton and was the son of Robert and Isabella Neillans of Caverton Farm, Eckford and Gateshaw, Morebattle and is buried in Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingherbe, Loos, France where his headstone is inscribed ” Loved By All”. Before enlisting he had lived and worked at Easter Wooden farm, Kelso. The Battalion was tasked to attack and capture a particularly strong German position known as the “Jews Nose” With great losses the position was taken by storm in five minutes and the Battalion then with the Seaforths and Camerons captured Loos village after desperate hand to hand combat using knives, bayonets and sharpened trench spades. They went though the village and advanced up Hill 70 but here both flanks were exposed and despite all their heroics the men had to be withdrawn to prevent further losses. That night the remnants were withdrawn to the village of Philosophe. 940 Officers and men had gone into action and 701 had become casualties all the Officers were killed or wounded as well as 680 Other Ranks. The first photograph shows troops in an actual attack advancing into a ghostly cloud of gas and smoke. The second photograph shows the village of Loos after its capture. The first artists illustration depicts the Black Watch at Loos and the second the Highlanders in the attack.

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