Private David Harkness

Private David Harkness, 16th ( 2nd Edinburgh ) Service Battalion, Royal Scots. He was killed in action in France, aged 22, on the 1st July 1916 on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He had been born in Peebles and was the son of Margaret and the late David Harkness of 13 Halliburton Place, Galashiels and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. Before enlisting he had been employed as a gardener. His battalion had landed in France in January 1916. The Battalion had been raised in November 1914 by Sir George McRae and originally comprised professional footballers from Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Falkirk, Raith Rovers and Dunfermline together with their supporters. He fell in the attack towards the German held Contalmaison which cost the Battalion dearly. 21 Officers and 793 Other Ranks had taken part in the attack and at roll call 12 Officers and 624 Other Ranks were posted mission although some of the missing turned up later. 1st July 1916 was the blackest day in British Army history with 57,000 casualties of which 19,000 were fatal. The battle ground on until November. The first photo shows troops attacking over a wide no mans land with very little cover. The colour image shows a peaceful Somme landscape today with “no gas, no barbed wire, no guns firing now”.

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