Battle of the Somme rages on

Private Clenachan
Private Clenachan

The Battle of the Somme is remembered mostly for the number of casualties on July 1st, but it was not a one day affair and the fighting continued until November 1916.

In the major offensive which began at dawn on September 15th, the Canadian Corps assaulted on a 2,000 metre sector west of the village of Courcelette. The infantry was aided by the “new engine of war,” the armoured tank.


Private Alexander Clanachan, the son of Mr Alex Clanachan, Church Street, Glenluce, was killed in action on September 17th while serving with a Canadian regiment, having emigrated there in 1909.

His sister, Mrs Parker, who lived in Princes Road, Newton Stewart, received the following letter from her dead brother’s best friend in the regiment, Private A G Cornelius.

“Dear Madam

Excuse the liberty I take in writing these few lines, but it was an arrangement made between your dear brother Sandy and I before we went into action. I would have written to you sooner but I got wounded that same night. Sandy was alive when I was sent down to the casualty clearing station to have my wounds dressed. When I was there I heard about poor Sandy, but the man who told me was not very sure. So I wrote to my Quarter-Master Sergeant to see if it was official, and I found out, to my sorrow, it was too true.

“Sandy and I were great friends, and I feel his loss very much. It makes me feel sad when I think of what has happened since we three lads went to France. I daresay you will have heard Sandy speak about Davie Cowie, who got killed at Ypres.

“Sandy died like a true soldier and a man, doing his duty to the Motherland, and making the supreme sacrifice. God rest his soul.

“I am practically alone now, for when I go back to the battalion there will be a lot of new faces.

“It was a night of horror.....a night I shall never forget. It happened on 15th September, when our lads fought so gallantly and took those three villages, and you will be proud to know your dear brother took part in that glorious attack.

“At present I am in hospital with a bad leg and shrapnel wounds in my right shoulder, having to go through an operation underneath my armpit due to the poison the Germans put in their shells.”