Sergeant John Oliver

Sergeant John Oliver, 2nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders. He died from wounds in France, aged 26, on the second day of the Battle of the Somme. He had been born in Jedburgh and was the son of John and Elizabeth Oliver of Abbey Grove, Jedburgh. He had trained as a draper in Messrs Hislop & Oliver at Albion House, Jedburgh where his father was the senior partner. He also played rugby for Jed Forest R.F.C. He enlisted in 1914 and joined his Battalion in France in February 1915. He was fatally wounded on the attack at Grandcourt on the 1st July where the Battalion suffered heavy casualties from machine gun fire causing the attack to stall. 12 Officers and 59 Other Ranks were killed and 6 Officers and 255 Other Ranks were wounded. In addition 53 Other Ranks were posted missing. ( Drummer Walter Ritchie of the Battalion won the Victoria Cross for his gallantry on the 1st July). He is buried in Gezaincourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France where his Headstone is inscribed ” One Of The Best”. The first photo shows troops crossing a wide and coverless “no mans land” on the 1st July. The other photos show Scottish troops on the Somme and the final image is of a peaceful Somme landscape today ” with no gas, no barbed wire, no guns firing now”. ( The photo of Sergeant Oliver courtesy of J. D. Smith).

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