Two great soldier pals buried side by side in the desert

Private R McDonald and Private H Astley
Private R McDonald and Private H Astley

The Galloway Gazette’s Great War diaries continue further into June 1917.

The Galloway Gazette, June 16th

Mrs T McNaught, Arthur Street, Newton Stewart, received a letter from a chaplain of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, following the loss of her son, Corporal J McNaught KOSB. He wrote: “My deepest sympathy to you and your family. Details of your son’s death were given to me yesterday by the men in his platoon. He was killed by a fragment of a grenade in a redoubt which we were attacking on April 19th, and death was instantaneous. His friend and comrade, Sergeant Diamond, was killed about the same time and their graves lie together about two miles south of Gaza.

“By his death a great blank has been left in the hearts of his friends.

“But to you what can I say? This, that he was a brave man and a good one, and the influence of such cannot die. Take pride in your sorrow that you were the mother of such a man and that he died so that peace might come upon the earth. Such a sacrifice cannot be made in vain.”

Private Harry Astley, KOSB, was killed in action on June 3. Before the war, Private Astley was employed as a clerk with the Scottish Granite Company offices at Creetown.

A KOSB Chaplain wrote to his wife saying: “It is my sad duty to tell you your husband was killed last night. The battalion was marching back from the trenches when a shell burst close to your husband, killing him and his Sergeant and wounding several other, including the officer.

He is buried in a little cemetery near where he fell. He was a gallant soldier and a true gentleman.”

Mrs McDonald, Arthur Street, had received the news that her husband, Private R McDonald, KOSB, was officially missing since May 3.