1/5th King's Own Scottish Borderers

Individual accounts of service

It is intended that this page will contain mini-biographies of soldiers who served with the 5th KOSB during WW1, including those men who served with the 2/5th and 3/5th Battalions. People may send information on their relative (with photo, if available), including family details and any stories relating to their service, and I will insert a brief biography.

If you would like your relative's story included, then please get in touch via the contact form. Thank you.

Robert Carlyle, WaterbeckRobert Carlyle

2nd Lieutenant Robert Carlyle, 1/5th King's Own Scottish Borderers
- killed in action 12 Jul 1915, Gallipoli, age 22

Born 12 Oct 1892, Waterbeck, Lockerbie. Elder son of Thomas Robert Carlyle, seed merchant, of Waterbeck, and Jean Graham, daughter of Alexander Miller, of Caithness. Educated at St. Mary's, Melrose, and Edinburgh Academy. Member of the Academy Rugby XV, who were Scottish School Champions for the season 1910-11. Engaged in business with his father.

Robert enlisted in the ranks of the 5th KOSB immediately on the outbreak of war, but soon afterwards, on 26 Aug 1914, was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant. He landed at Gallipoli on 6 Jun 1915, and was killed in action only five weeks later on 12 Jul 1915. He is buried in Redoubt Cemetery and commemorated on Middlebie Great War Memorial. His brother, Thomas, also fell, killed in action on 5 Oct 1917 serving as Lieutenant with the 2nd KOSB during the Battle of Broodseinde, part of 3rd Ypres.

Cook brothers, Kirkmichael

Private 241011 Walter Cook, 1/5th King's Own Scottish Borderers
- died of wounds 24 Nov 1917, Palestine, age 23

Born at Kirkbean, Kirkcudbrightshire, the second of three sons in the family of William and Isabella Cook. Walter enlisted as Private 4243 with the 2/5th KOSB in early Feb 1915. His younger brother, Joseph, had enlisted in the same unit, as Private 2974, a fortnight earlier. The brothers were posted to the 1/5th KOSB and served with the Battalion in Egypt and Palestine.

The 1/5th KOSB was heavily involved in the ferocious battle at El Mughar on 13 Nov 1917. The initial advance by the 1/4th KOSB was held up by heavy machine gun fire. Three companies of the 1/5th KOSB reinforced the firing line, while another worked its way round to attack from the south. Every available man, including Brigade Headquarters staff, was now involved in the fighting but the Turkish defence appeared resolute. However, about 3.00pm the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Dorset Yeomanry of the 75th Division were seen galloping in 'almost perfectly ordered lines' across two miles of plain.

'For a few moments the charging cavalry drew the fire of the machine-guns about Mughar and its ridges to the north.... Seizing the opportunity, Brigadier-General Pollock-McCall snatched up a rifle and bayonet, shouted to the Borderers to follow him, and dashed out into the open. Here, there and everywhere, the Borderers, shouting and cheering, jumped out, and there ensued a wild but steady advance in lines across the open for the gardens of Mughar. The Brigade Commander led his men all the way, a bullet piercing his shrapnel helmet. Wounded men were carried forward by the enthusiasm of that charge. Officers and men fell on all sides, but in a few seconds they were through the plunging machine-gun barrage, had crossed a gully, and were racing breathless for the cactus hedges in front. To the left, the lines of the Bucks and Berks Yeomanry with swords flashing were galloping up the ridges north of Mughar. Further north still the Dorset Yeomanry had dismounted and were attacking a ridge on foot. The plain resounded with the chattering of machine-guns.'

Just before 4.00pm the mixed band of 1/4th and 1/5th KOSB fought their way into the middle of the village from the west and met two squadrons of dismounted Berkshire Yeomanry who had fought their way in from the north. Walter was severely wounded and succumbed to his wounds on 24th November. He is buried in Jerusalem War Cemetery, Grave C. 57 and commemorated on Kirkmichael War Memorial. Joseph went through the Palestine campaign unscathed and served with the 1/5th KOSB on the Western Front in 1918. He survived the war and shortly afterwards married Elizabeth, with whom he shared over 60 years of marriage.

John Falside, EskdalemuirJohn Falside

Lance Corporal 1460 John Falside, 1/5th King's Own Scottish Borderers
- killed in action 29 Jun 1915, Gallipoli, age 19

John Cuthbert Rutherford Falside was the son of Mrs Falside, Livingstone Place, Lockerbie and the late Rev. J.T. Falside, Free Church minister at Eskdalemuir. John was a pre-war member of the Lockerbie Company ('C' Coy.) and 'was of a quiet disposition, and a great favourite with his comrades. He had chosen the law as a profession, was an apprentice in the office of Messrs Cormack & Byers, solicitors, Lockerbie, and had successfully passed the preliminary examinations. From news come to hand it appears that Lance Corporal Falside was carrying rations when a shrapnel shell burst in his vicinity, killing him instantly. He is buried at Skew Bridge Cemetery, Grave II. F. 17.'

John was the youngest of three brothers; tragically, Rev. William James Falside, Army Chaplains' Department and Private 27096, James Falside 1st KOSB also died in service. It appears that the Falside name died with the brothers - see Scottish War Memorial Project.

Isaac Farrell, DumfriesIsaac Farrell MM

Private 240653 Isaac Farrell MM, 1/5th King's Own Scottish Borderers
- Military Medal for gallantry, Second Battle of Gaza, 19 Apr 1917

Isaac John Farrell was born 2nd October 1896 in Penrith, Cumbria, the second son of Michael and Lizzie Farrell. Isaac enlisted as Private 2174 with the 2/5th KOSB in October 1914 and was subsequently posted to the first line battalion, with which he landed at Gallipoli on 6 Jun 1915. He survived the Gallipoli campaign unscathed and was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field during the 1/5th KOSB's next major engagement, the Second Battle of Gaza on 19 Apr 1917.

After taking a redoubt, Isaac's platoon were in danger of being cut off due to a shortage of ammunition. He volunteered to return to headquarters for a fresh supply. Under cover of shell smoke, he succeeded in getting through and returned with sufficient ammunition to drive back the enemy. The recommendation for the award of the Military Medal was based on a report of the gallant deed found in the pocket book of his company officer, Lieutenant Andrew Riddell Scott, who died from his wounds a few days after the battle.

Isaac worked at the Crichton Hospital, Dumfries after the war. There, he met Jessie Muircroft, a nurse; they married in January 1922 and moved to Law, Lanarkshire where they raised their four children. Isaac worked as a fireman in various mining pits. He spent the last years of his life at Roadmeetings Hospital, Carluke and died there in 1981, age 85.

Robert Gilbert, CreebridgeRobert Gilbert

Private 1675 Robert Gilbert, 1/5th King's Own Scottish Borderers
- killed in action 12 Jul 1915, Gallipoli, age 17

Robert Young Gilbert was born in 1897 at Calmachie, Glasgow, the only son of David and Mary Gilbert, latterly of Creebridge, Newton Stewart. On his enlistment with the 5th KOSB, on 5th August 1914, Robert (Bertie) was an apprentice joiner in the employment of Mr R Murray, Minnigaff.

Bertie was one of the younger soldiers serving with the 1/5th KOSB at Gallipoli; he was only 17 years old when the Battalion went ashore at V beach on the evening of 6 Jun 1915. Like so many of his pals and comrades who were part of the original 1/5th KOSB contingent, Bertie's service on the peninsula ended just a few weeks later when he was killed in action during the charge of 12th July 1915. He has no known grave, so is commemorated on Helles Memorial. He is also commemorated on Minnigaff War Memorial.

James Keith, WhithornJames Keith

Private 1486 James Keith, 1/5th King's Own Scottish Borderers
- killed in action 12 Jul 1915, Gallipoli

James Keith was born in Whithorn in 1891, the eldest son of John Keith and Annie McCallie. James married Sarah Neil on 30 Apr 1915, just three weeks before he boarded the S.S. Mauretania, to join the mediterranean Expeditionary Force at Gallipoli. James was a pre-war territorial soldier; he enlisted into 'H' Company of the 5th King's Own Scottish Borderers (T.F.) on 28 Jan 1914. On his enlistment, James was 22 years old, 5'9" tall, and worked as a Postman. His address was given as King's Road, Whithorn. The enlistment details are given in 'Albanich - A history of the Galloway Rifle Volunteers' by Ian Devlin. However, both his family and contemporary reports state his occupation as 'Baker'.

One of the original contingent of the 1/5th Battalion, James landed at Gallipoli on the evening of Sunday, 6 Jun 1915. Like so many of his pals and comrades, his service on the peninsula was to be a brief affair. He was reported wounded and missing during the charge of 12 Jul 1915. The grim details pertaining to his death are given in a series of letters from the Red Cross sent in 1916 to Pte Keith's mother in response to her enquiries to find out the fate of her son. Initial reports indicated that James had been killed, but further information revealed that he must have died of wounds.

In a letter dated 4 Apr 1916, Pte William Thompson 2047, 1/5th KOSB stated, "Keith came from Whithorn in Galloway, is a baker in civil life and a man of about 5'7"-8", dark and clean-shaven. I saw him lie wounded in the head and in the thigh, in the third line of Turkish trenches on July 12th. He was looking very pale and asked for water and was bandaged up. This was about midday, the attack began at 8pm and we were driven out of this trench about 3pm. There was heavy fighting for three days, and I am afraid the wounded would have to be left." Sir Louis Mallett (British ambassador in Constantinople) says: "We fear this unsatisfactory report agrees with the one previously sent on to you; but we are trying to obtain further and more definite information." Mrs Keith finally received the news she had been dreading in a final letter, dated 23rd May, 1916. It contains an account from Pte Keith's commanding officer, Captain Eric Gibson, of the 5th KOSB. He states, "Pte Keith was very severely wounded in the head in a Turkish trench which we took on the 12th July and held. He was bandaged up by 2nd Lt Salmond of A Coy. I think he must have died of wounds and his body was probably put over the parapet as they had to clear the trenches of bodies, but he may have received a burial. This took place about 10am." Sir Louis Mallett told Mrs Keith, "We much regret having to send on such sad news, but we fear it leaves no doubt as to the ultimate fate of Pte Keith. We assure you of our very sincere sympathy."

James left his new bride pregnant with twins he would never see. One infant died soon after birth, but a daughter, Sally, survived and was raised in Canada after her mother emigrated at the end of the war. James had a young son (also James) from a previous relationship. Young James was raised by his grandparents, John and Annie, as part of their family. James Keith is commemorated on Helles Memorial and Whithorn War Memorial. He is remembered in Whithorn by his grandson Jimpy and great-granddaughter Elizabeth, and in Orangeville, Ontario, Canada by his great-granddaughter Ann Taylor.

John Kerr, SpringholmJohn Kerr

Private 1904 John Kerr, 1/5th King's Own Scottish Borderers
- killed in action 12 Jul 1915, Gallipoli, age 21

Born 25th June 1894, Springholm, Kirkcudbrightshire, the only son of John Kerr, boot and shoe maker, of Springholm, and Anne Elizabeth, daughter of John Mason, of Liverpool, publican. John was educated at Springholm Public School and afterwards was employed as a hay presser.

He enlisted with the 2/5th KOSB on 27 Sep 1914, landed at Gallipoli on 6 Jun 1915 with the first line battalion and was killed in action on 12 Jul 1915. John has no known grave, so is commemorated on Helles Memorial. He is also commemorated on Springholm and Haugh of Urr War Memorials.

Fred Sinclair, PenpontFred Sinclair

Company Sergeant Major 26 Fred Sinclair, 1/5th King's Own Scottish Borderers
- died 11 Nov 1915, Gallipoli, age 47

Eldest son of ex-Sgt Samuel Sinclair and Mary Dobson Wilson, Penpont, Dumfriesshire. Fred was foreman warehouseman with Messrs W.C. McKay & Sons, tweed merchants, Loreburn Street, Dumfries and for a long period was a committee member of Dumfries Football Club.

A long-standing member of the 3rd Volunteer Battalion (Dumfriesshire) KOSB, Fred enlisted with the Dumfries Company of the newly formed 5th KOSB in April 1908. He landed at Gallipoli with the 1/5th KOSB on 6 Jun 1915, where he served as Company Sergeant Major of 'A' Coy. Fred died after an attack of jaundice and is buried in Portianos Military Cemetery, Grave V. C. 126. He is commemorated on Penpont and Dumfries War Memorials. One of Fred's brothers, Alfred, was killed in action in April 1917 while serving with the 72nd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Jim Turnbull, GelstonJim Turnbull

Private 1647 Jim Turnbull, 1/5th King's Own Scottish Borderers
- killed in action 12 Jul 1915, Gallipoli, age 17

Jim was the younger son of Mr and Mrs Joseph Turnbull, Muncraig, Borgue. He enlisted with 'G' Company, 5th KOSB on 3 Aug 1914 at Castle Douglas. He was living at Gelston, where he was serving his blacksmith's apprenticeship.

He landed at Gallipoli on 6 Jun 1915 with the original contingent of the battalion and was listed as missing presumed dead after the charge of 12 Jul 1915, the day of his 17th birthday. He has no known grave, so is commemorated on Helles Memorial; he is also commemorated on Borgue and Gelston War Memorials.