Treasured letters of a soldier who died a century ago prompted by a story we ran of a March man who died on the same day in 1918.
PUBLISHED: 15:52 08 October 2018
The story of a March soldier who died in the Battle of Cambrai less than a month before the end of the First World War, has prompted another family to come forward to remember their uncle who died on the same day.
Retired Major, Donald Roberts, of March said his uncle, private Hamish Roberts, died on the same day as Herbert Walter Mitchell who we featured in our newspaper last week.
Mr Roberts tells his story alongside the treasured last letter sent from his 33 year old uncle from the battlefield, written in the trademark thick pencil on HM Forces small pieces of paper and tiny envelopes.
Hamish, of Inverness, was one of seven brothers who fought in the Great War, but sadly died just four weeks before peace was declared on November 11, 1918.
His nephew Mr Roberts said: “He was killed in action on October 13, 1918, whilst serving with the 6th/7th Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders.
“He is buried in the beautifully kept military section of The Communal Cemetery at Avesnes Le Sec between Cambrai and Valenciennes.
“In 1988, my late brother Hamish (named after his uncle) and I visited the grave on the anniversary of our uncle’s death and laid flowers.
“This was the first family visit, sadly, we will not be able to visit again.
“I have in my possession his last letter fro my grandparents in which he asks for any news about three of his brothers “as I might run across them any time” and said he would “write a long letter when I get settled down”
“I also have his last letter to my father, the eldest of the brothers.
“Both letters are dated September 16, 1918. A month before he was killed in action.
“As Francis Stanton said in the article, now is the time to remember their uncle and all others who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War and I would add in all subsequent wars and conflicts.”
The Battle of Cambrai in 1918, also known as the Second Battle of Cambrai, was a battle between troops of the British First, Third and Fourth Armies and German Empire forces during the hundred days offensive of the First World War.
The battle took place in and around the French city of Cambrai, between October 8 and 10, 1918.
The battle incorporated many of the newer tactics of 1918, in particular tanks. The attack was hailed an overwhelming success with what was called at the time light casualties in an extremely short amount of time.