George " Dod " Gordon

Pte George Gordon, 6th Gordon Highlanders


George Gordon was born on 25th September 1897 at Christkirk, Kennethmont and was the third oldest of a family of three brothers and four sisters. His parents were James Adam and Jeannie Gordon. He was known to his family and friends as Dod. His father was tenant in the farm of Christkirk on the Leith Hall Estate which had been farmed by members of the Gordon family for many years. Dod worked as a farm servant at Leith Hall Home Farm and was one of three workers there who went off to fight in the Great War. The others were James Daun and William Anderson. All of them died in the conflict.

On joining the Territorials a soldier agreed to be available for home service only and could not be posted overseas unless he volunteered to do so, and even then could only serve in his own unit. When the threat of war came in 1914 most of the Territorial Soldiers of The Gordon Highlanders agreed to serve overseas and thus became available for 'Imperial Service'. These men, including Dod Gordon, were then entitled to wear The Imperial Service Badge.

The Imperial Service Badge
The Imperial Service Badge

As a member of 'H' Company, 6th Battalion ( Donside and Banffshire), Gordon Highlanders (Territorial Force) George reported to The Drill Hall in Huntly with his Insch comrades when the Battalion were mobilised in the evening of 4th August 1914. His company marched by road to Keith where all the companies of the 6th Gordons assembled during 6th-7th August, the men being billeted in the school and in private houses. Organisation completed they left Keith by train on 11th August for Perth. On the 16th they moved on to join The Highland Territorial Brigade in The Highland Division at Bedford and were billeted in private houses in the Bromham Road area of the town with their Headquarters in the Girls High School. For three months they trained and prepared for their eventual move to the Western Front and on 22nd October were reviewed by the King. On 9th Nov 1914 the Battalion journeyed to Southampton by train. That evening at the docks they joined the troopship "Cornishman". They disembarked at Le Havre, France next morning and marched to No1 Reserve Camp on top of the hill behind the town.

On the 13th began the journey up the line ending at St Omer where the General Headquarters of the British Army in France was located. For three weeks they received further training for the trenches while billeted in nearby Blendecques.
On 6th December the 6th Gordons, in 7th Division - 20th Brigade became the first 51st HD battalion to arrive on The Western Front joining up with regulars of the 2nd Gordons, Scots and Grenadier Guards in the trenches in front of Sailly, near Armentieres. Dod's 'A' Company were the first into the trenches. Four days in the line and four resting in billets to the rear was the usual routine. The battalion were billeted south of the town and much time was spent cleaning up after a tour in the mud swamped trenches.

Cleaning up after trench duty

Members of 6 GH cleaning up after a tour in the trenches, the man shaving still wears the drab apron over his kilt. This was worn to camouflage the kilt and to help keep it clean and dry in the muddy trenches.


On Christmas Day 1914 they witnessed a remarkable event amid the death and destruction - the unofficial Christmas Truce. The truce eventually extended to 3rd January 1915, when normal hostilities resumed.
(Click to view the 6th Battalion account of the truce)

The 6th remained in the Sailly area until 7th March 1915 when they moved to Estaires in readiness for their first action at The Battle of Neuve Chapelle (10th -15th March). The 6th went forward to make an advance at 09.30 on the 13th. Although they gained some ground in the attack they were unable to advance further. The 2nd Gordons came up to assist them but after being pinned down by shell and machine gun fire in No Man's Land for most of the day both units had to fall back under cover of darkness. The 6th suffered very heavy casualties in the initial stages of the action.

This special Order was published by Major-General Capper -
"The Divisional General has now received the reports on the action at Neuve Chapelle during March 10th to 14th. He desires to express his admiration of the gallant conduct of the 6th Battalion Gordon Highlanders on the 13th March. The Battalion made repeated efforts to advance under very heavy fire, and gained a considerable amount of ground. Its conduct was characterised by splendid dash, and was the admiration of the neighbouring battalions. This is the first occasion in which this battalion has taken part in an attack, and it behaved with great spirit and steadiness."

Dod was wounded, probably at Neuve Chapelle, and spent some time in hospital and later rested for two weeks at No 2 Territorial Base in Rouen before returning to the Battalion at the the front at the end of April having been moved to 'A' Coy's No 3 Platoon. Although not involved in an action at this time it is known that the battalion were in front line trenches at "Windy Corner" in the Festubert - Givenchy sector near Cuinchy.

The CWGC record gives Dod's death as 4th June 1915. In a letter to his father Lt D McKenzie, commanding "A" Coy, states that he knew George well as he was his observer. He also states clearly that he was killed during the afternoon of June 3.

He was the victim of a high explosive shell which also killed Sgt John Fraser of Aberlour and wounded two other men. The Imperial War Graves Commission later advised the family that he was buried near Givency - West of La Basee and that the precise location of the grave was known. In December 1919 they advised that a careful search had been made but all trace of it was lost as a consequence of military operations in that area.

Having 'No Known Grave' George Gordon's name is recorded on the Memorial to the Missing at Le Touret Cemetery.
Sgt Fraser is also commemorated there.

1914-1918 Medal Trio The 1914 or Mons Star The British War Medal The Victory Medal

Move mouse over medals to view reverse

George Gordon was awarded these medals for serving his King and Country in The Great War.

Having served in the France / Flanders theatre between 5th August and 22nd November 1914 George qualified for the less common 1914 Star (left). It is often referred to as The Mons Star as the majority if it's recipients were members of The British Expeditionary Force and involved in the retreat from Mons to the line of entrenched positions which became The Western Front.
The German Kaiser referred to the BEF as a "contemptible little army ".
It's members later became known as The Old Contemptibles

The British War Medal (centre) and Victory Medal (right) were awarded to all personnel.
The trio were commonly called "Pip, Squeak and Wilfred" after newspaper cartoon characters of the day.

Dod's leller from the front, Feb 1915

Dod's letter to his father at Christkirk written on the troop train taking his battalion to Southampton from their camp at Bedford in Feb 1915. This was the first stage of the journey to Flanders.


The 1914 or Mons Star The British War Medal The Victory Medal

George Gordon  - Memorial Plaque

The Memorial Plaque

This circular bronze plaque, 4.75 inches (120mm) in diameter, was first issued in 1919 to the next of kin of those British and Commonwealth servicemen and women who lost their lives on active service during the Great War. Each one was different in that the commemorated individuals name was embossed in raised letters within a tablet.

The design shows Britannia bestowing a laurel wreath on the rectangular tablet. A lion stands in the foreground, with dolphins above and an oak branch in the lower right. A lion cub clutching a fallen eagle in its jaws decorates the exergue. The wording around the circumference states:

The final total manufactured is estimated to be in the vicinity of 1,150,000 units, and represented the most universally distributed numismatic work ever cast or struck, excluding money.

Due to some similarity with the old one pence coin it was commonly known as a Dead Man's or Death Penny.


The brothers In Memoriam card

This sad memorial card bears the photographs and details of the deaths in action of dod and his older brother Pat.
Pat Gordon (4th GH), aged 19, was killed at Hooge two weeks after his brother. He too has no known grave and is commemorated on
the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing at Ypres, Belgium.


The Gordon family headstone at Insch Cemetery

Insch Cemetery

The family headstone at Insch Cemetery has details of the Gordon brothers.

Private Robert Patrick Gordon
who died near Ypres 19 June 1915 aged 19 years
Pte George Gordon
who died at Givenchy 4 June 1915 aged 17 years


Photographed Nov 2001

The Gordon Family, Christkirk, circa 1910

The Gordon Family, Christkirk. c 1911

Jenella, George, Robert, James,
Constance, James A Gordon, Christina, John, Mrs Jeannie Gordon

(A sister, Lizzie, died in infancy in 1904)

Family photographs, letters and medals are reproduced here by kind permission
of his nephews George, Robert and James Gordon, Alford.