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26684 Superintending Clerk
JAMES McGREGOR
Royal Engineers

by
Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2004. All Rights Reserved.

1. INTRODUCTION

Unless otherwise noted, the details supplied in this narrative were extracted from the soldier’s service papers obtained from the National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office) at Kew, Richmond, Surrey. It should be noted that McGregor’s papers were located in the burnt document files, therefore they were not completely legible. Some information pertaining to his service had to be omitted because it could not be read clearly from the papers. Some place names or dates may also be in error due to the poor condition of the service papers.

2. EARLY LIFE AND FAMILY INFORMATION

James McGregor was born on the 20th of May 1878 in the town of Wick in Caithness, Scotland.[1] He was the son of 7801 Quartermaster Sergeant John McGregor,[2] Royal Engineers and his wife Helen (nee Campbell).

The McGregors had another son named Robert who also served in the Royal Engineers.[3] No record of the McGregor family could be found in the 1881 British Census; hence, it is not known if James and Robert had any other brothers and sisters. James's service papers indicate that the McGregors were members of the Presbyterian church.

3. PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

The following is a description of James McGregor at the time he enlisted as a Boy Soldier in the Army in 1892:

Age:

14 years and 0 months.

Height:

5 feet 4 inches.

Weight:

133 pounds.

Chest Measurement (minimum):

31 inches.

Chest Measurement (maximum) :

33 inches.

Complexion:

Fair.

Eyes:

Blue.

Hair:

Brown.

Distinctive Marks:

Scar on his right calf.

4. ENLISTMENT AND TRAINING

As James McGregor was the son of a senior non-commissioned officer in the Royal Engineers, he had been accustomed to life in the military from an early age. His father's chosen career undoubtedly influenced James's decision to enlist in the Army as Boy Soldier[4] when he reached the age of 14 years. It may be that his father even brought him to the Recruiting Sergeant in London on the 21st of May 1892 when he enlisted.

James enlisted for 12 years with the Colours.[5] In response to the normal questions asked of a recruit at the time of enlistment, James indicated that he had been living with his parents, that he had no trade, and that he was not an apprentice. He further stated that he was not married and that he had never been imprisoned by civil power. Obviously for a boy of his age he was not a member of the naval or military forces, he had no prior military service, he had never previously been discharged from the service under less than honorable circumstances and had never been rejected as unfit for service. At the time of his recruitment, James indicated a willingness to be enlisted in the Royal Engineers, obviously desiring to follow in his father's footsteps.

James was determined to be fit for service in the Army as indicated by the Certificate of Medical Examination issued on the 21st of May 1892 as part of his attestation papers.[6] A Certificate of Primary Military Examination also was issued on the same date proclaiming him fit for service in the Royal Engineers. Fitness for service in the Royal Engineers normally was based on the civil trade or occupation of the recruit. Men who had worked in the building trades prior to enlisting were much sought after. In the case of young James, his father's influence probably had much to do with his acceptability for service in the Corps.

5. ASSIGNMENTS AND CAMPAIGN SERVICE

Chatham (1892-1893)

Following his enlistment, James was assigned Regimental Number 26684 and apparently was posted to the headquarters of the Royal Engineers at Brompton Barracks in Chatham, Kent. After a period of training, he was appointed to the rank of Bugler on the 1st of July 1893 while still serving as a Boy Soldier.[7] It is not known whether he received his basic engineer recruit training during this period or whether this training was delayed until after he entered the ranks as a Sapper after attaining the age of 18 years.[8]

In 1895, James's brother Robert enlisted in the Royal Engineers, probably as a Boy Soldier.[9] Robert was issued Regimental Number 28974. Like his brother James before him, his father's position as a senior non-commissioned officer in the Corps probably prompted his enlistment at such an early age.

Dublin (1893-1897)

Bugler James McGregor turned 18 years of age on the 21st of May 1896 and on that date he was posted to the ranks of the Royal Engineers as a Sapper. He was assigned to the Ordnance Survey Office at Phoenix Park in Dublin, Ireland where he was assigned duties as a draughtsman. On the 28th of May 1896 Sapper McGregor was tested at Phoenix Park and was granted a Certificate of Trade Proficiency as a "Fair" Draughtsman.

Chatham and Aldershot (1897)

McGregor's service papers indicate that he may have returned to Chatham early in 1897, perhaps to attend a course and to again qualify as a draughtsman. On the 7th of March 1897 he was again qualified as a "Fair" Draughtsman by the Commandant of the School of Military Engineering. From Chatham he proceeded to Aldershot to work in the office of the Commander Royal Engineers (CRE) at that station. On the 16th of October 1897 he was again tested and this time the CRE qualified Sapper McGregor as a "Skilled" Draughtsman.

Egypt (1897-1902)

Sapper McGregor left England for Egypt on the 20th of December 1897. His records do not indicate to which unit he was assigned or specifically where in Egypt he served. He remained in Egypt for over four years, during which time the South African War (1899-1902) was fought against the Boers. The Sudanese campaigns of 1896-1899 also were fought while McGregor was in Egypt; however, his records do not indicate that he participated in any of these campaigns.

Malta (1902-1905)

McGregor was transferred to Malta on the 3rd of April 1902 and was posted to the 31st (Fortress) Company, R.E. at Valletta. Valletta is a seaport city on the northeast coast of the island of Malta. It is located on a rock promontory with harbors on either side and was a principal base of the Royal Navy. The mission of McGregor's company at that time was to provide engineer support to the infantry and artillery units occupying the fortresses guarding the harbors at Valletta.

On the 16th of May 1904 McGregor submitted a request to re-engage to complete 21 years of service.[10] He was administered a medical examination by Captain Surgeon C. Mance, M.D. of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Malta Regiment of Militia[11] and was found fit for continued service. His re-engagement was witnessed by Sergeant F. Rowe, R.E. and was certified by Major G.L. Fanshawe, R.E., the Officer Commanding the 31st (Fortress) Company. On the following day McGregor's re-engagement was approved by Lieutenant Colonel W. Yolland, the Officer Commanding Royal Engineers Companies on Malta.

Home Service (1905-1907)

McGregor arrived home from Malta on the 12th of April 1905. Unfortunately, his service papers do not indicate where he served during this period. It is evident, however, that he was serving in the Establishment for Engineer Services (EES) at the time.[12]

Jamaica (1907-1911)

On the 30th of November 1907 McGregor departed England for the island of Jamaica. At the time of his service there the Royal Engineers establishment on the island consisted of an R.E. Headquarters and the 44th (Fortress) Company, R.E.[13] The R.E. Headquarters was located at Up Park with elements of the 44th Company at Newcastle and Port Royal. McGregor served on the island of Jamaica for a little over three years, returning to England on the 10th of January 1911.

Aldershot (1911-1914)

On his return to England, McGregor was posted to Aldershot where he was assigned duties as a draughtsman in the office of the CRE South Aldershot at Stanhope Lines. While at Aldershot, McGregor decided to apply for an extension to his service to complete 21 years with the Colours.[14] It is unclear from his service papers why he made this second application to extend his service, since he had already done so in 1904. Lieutenant Colonel J.W. Gibbon, R.E., CRE South Aldershot, recommended approval of McGregor's extension application on the 10th of June 1912. On the 13th of June his extension to complete 21 years of service was endorsed by Colonel J.W. Cowan, the Assistant Director of Field Works at the War Office. Final approval of McGregor's request was given on the 17th of June. The way was now paved for him to receive a pension upon his discharge at 21 years.

According to his service papers, James McGregor was serving with the 5th Field Company, R.E. in Stanhope Lines at Aldershot on the 14th of August 1912.[15] It appears that his assignment to the company was for administrative purposes only, as he was employed in the office of the CRE of the 2nd Division. The officers in the 5th Field Company at the time included:[16]

Captain J.W. Skipwith

Captain A.J. Darlington (attached)[17]

Lieutenant J.N. Nash

Lieutenant R.G.W.H. Stone

In 1913, while still at Aldershot working as a draughtsman in the office of the CRE, McGregor requested and was granted permission to continue in service beyond 21 years.[18] During this same year it appears that McGregor considered a transfer to the Army Ordnance Corps. On the 15th of July 1913 a letter was sent to the Officer In Charge Royal Engineers Records at Chatham from the Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores at the War Office indicating that McGregor had been put on the list of candidates for the appointment of Sub-Conductor, Army Ordnance Corps. This transfer never materialized.

On the 16th of October 1913 while he was serving in the 5th Field Company with the 2nd Division at Aldershot, McGregor's Employment Sheet was prepared by Captain A. Darlington, R.E., Acting Adjutant of the 2nd Division Royal Engineers. Captain Darlington had this to say about him:

Military Character:

Exemplary

Cases of Drunkeness on Duty:

None

Cases of Ordinary Drunkeness:

2 (*)

Nature of Employment since last Assessment:

Draughtsman

Character for Civil Employment:

"Intelligent and reliable." Experienced in survey work. A good clerk.

(*) This is an interesting entry as it indicates that lack of sobriety was noted on two occasions by McGregor's commanding officer and the incidents were significant enough to be included in his Employment Sheet.

On the 6th of September 1914 Captain Darlington submitted a similar report concerning McGregor, which read as follows:

Military Character:

Very Good (+)

Cases of Drunkeness on Duty:

None

Cases of Ordinary Drunkeness:

2

Nature of Employment since last Assessment:

Draughtsman

Character for Civil Employment:

"Intelligent and reliable." Experienced in survey work. A good clerk.

(+) Captain Darlington elected to downgrade McGregor's conduct from "Exemplary" on the 16 October 1913 report to "Very Good" on this latest report. Two cases of "ordinary drunkeness" are again noted. Presumably "ordinary drunkeness" is meant to signify over indulgence when off duty. Again, the incidents must have been significant enough so that they were brought to the attention of the CRE's Adjutant.

A further indication of McGregor's performance was presented on the 1st of October 1914 in a document entitled "Confidential Report on the Warrant and Non-Commissioned Officers - E.E.S. to the Director of Works, Aldershot Command." The report rendered on McGregor read as follows:

As seen from this report, McGregor had left the office of the CRE South Aldershot sometime in September of 1914 and was posted to the office of the Chief Engineer, Aldershot Command. Although McGregor was "an excellent Clerk" he could only be recommend as a Draughtsman, presumably because he was at that time he was filling a Draughtsman's position in the office and not that of a Clerk. The officer rendering the report specially recommends him as a Clerk in his final comment, probably in an effort to bring his talents to the attention of higher command.

The Great War of 1914-1918 had begun in Europe in August of 1914. The British Expeditionary Force had already deployed to France and many more men were being readied for service in the theatre. It appears that the last report on McGregor's performance of duty was submitted in preparation for his departure from Aldershot. He had already been alerted for deployment abroad and was preparing to depart for France. On the 12th of October 1914 a telegram was sent from the War Office to the Commander, Aldershot Command ordering McGregor to proceed to Southampton no later than 10 p.m. on the 14th of October 1914.

France and Flanders (1914-1920)

McGregor proceeded to Southampton the 14th of October for duty with the Director of Works in France. He embarked on a London and Southwestern steamer with orders assigning him to the 29th (Works) Company, R.E., one of the first units to arrive in France after the start of the war as a Lines of Communication unit.[19] He arrived in France on the 15th of October 1914 to begin his service with the British Expeditionary Force.

Prior to the time of McGregor's posting, the 29th (Works) Company contained five engineer store and ledger-keepers and five engineer clerks, most of whom were distributed between Rouen, Boulogne and Havre before the evacuation of these stations took place in face of German offensive operations in August of 1914. No. 3 Section of the company was located at Amiens where it worked on the following tasks, typical for a works company:

This work was carried out by the Royal Engineers troops with the assistance of civilian contractors.

Orders were received on the 26th of August 1914 to evacuate Amiens in the face of the German offensive threat. Immediate actions were taken to collect all working parties and tools of the 29th Company in preparation for the evacuation. No. 3 Section proceeded to Rouen by train at 1400 hours on the following day. The section did not remain there long, as orders to evacuate Rouen were received on the 29th of August. No. 3 Section proceeded to Le Mans on the 30th and arrived there the following day. Le Mans had been designated the Advanced Base for R.E. operations. In the mean time, steps had also been taken to evacuate the R.E. bases at Boulogne, and Havre.

The British had first landed at Boulogne on the 11th of August 1914. The French had prepared five camps there, capable of supporting a headquarters, No. 2 Stationary Hospital and two infantry battalions. Elements of the 29th (Works) Company at Boulogne improved sanitary arrangements and quays during their time there. On the 27th of August 1914, Boulogne was evacuated and all stores removed. The headquarters and administrative staffs proceeded by sea to Havre and thence to St. Nazaire.

The 29th (Works) Company, less No. 3 Section, arrived at Havre on the 12th of August 1914 and remained at that location until it was evacuated to Le Mans. While at Havre the company worked on a veterinary hospital, a remount depot, a field bakery, a hospital, post office and military prison.

Owing to the German retreat to the Aisne, it became possible to reoccupy the original bases that had previously been evacuated. About the 1st of October 1914 arrangements were made to reopen the previous military establishments at Rouen and Havre. From entries in the service papers of James McGregor, it appears that he was stationed at the base at Havre where the company worked on the construction of 6 reinforcement camps, a remount depot and a veterinary hospital in addition to hospital accommodation in existing buildings, adaptation of hangars and new construction for supplies and ordnance.

McGregor served with the 29th (Works) Company until the 26th of March 1916 when he was attached to the 32nd (Fortress) Company, R.E. at Havre.[20] The 32nd Company had arrived in France on the 6th of March 1915 and served as part of the defence force for the port facilities at Havre. Later in the war the 32nd (Fortress) Company was redesignated the 32nd Base Park Company and like the 29th Company it was employed on Lines of Communication work.

Except for the 10-day period from the 22nd of September to the 1st of October 1916, when he was on leave in England, McGregor served with the 32nd Company until the 17th of February 1917. During this period things were not quite as quiet for him as they had been during his time with the 29th Company.[21] The 32nd Company suffered five casualties during the war, but only one man died during the period that McGregor was assigned to the unit.[22] That man was 95810 Lance Corporal Alexander Forbes of Aberdeen. Forbes died at home on the 14th of October 1916, probably of disease or injuries received in an accident at the front.

On the 17th of February 1917, after being appointed an Acting Warrant Officer Class I, James McGregor was transferred to the 24th Base Park Company, R.E. on Lines of Communication work. According to his service papers, McGregor served with the 24th Company until about January or February of 1918 when it appears that he was temporarily attached to the 1504th Artisan Works Company, R.E. While with this company, McGregor took leave on the 21st of February 1918 and returned to duty on the 8th of March 1918. His records show that later in the year he was again serving with the 24th Base Park Company and remained with that unit until the 30th of June 1918 when he was transferred to the office of the CRE at Havre. Prior to his transfer to the CRE's office, McGregor's award of the Meritorious Service Medal was published on page 7158 in the London Gazette dated 17 June 1918. The citation for his award read as follows:[23]

His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Meritorious Service Medal to the undermentioned Warrant Officers, Non-commissioned Officers and Men, in recognition of valuable services rendered with the Forces in France during the present war:-

McGregor, A.Supt.Clk. (A./S./M.) J.

Service with the 24th Base Park Company brought McGregor the closest to the front line action as any assignment he had while in France. During the war this company suffered a total of 15 fatalities, two of which occurred in 1915, with the remaining deaths occurring in 1918. The following table lists those thirteen casualties that occurred while McGregor was assigned to the company.

Casualties of the 24th Base Park Company, Royal Engineers in 1918

Name

Regimental Number

Rank

Cause
Of Death

Date of Death

Black, George Boyd

36791

Staff Sergeant

Died

19 Oct 1918

Clark, James

93329

Corporal

DOW

2 Jun 1918

Clark, Reginald John

499918

Sapper

Died

15 Oct 1918

Crossley, Herbert

149564

Sapper

Died

20 Oct 1918

Green, Marks

236839

Pioneer

Died

23 Oct 1918

Hough, Edward

300364

Sapper

Died

30 Oct 1918

Middleton, Ernest James

277067

Sapper

Died

19 Oct 1918

Norton, Francis

236142

Sapper

Died

16 Oct 1918

Paterson, William

10080

Sergeant

KIA

27 May 1918

Poitevin, Henry Gideon

245777

Pioneer

DOW

21 May 1918

Shannon, Joseph

67470

Sergeant

Died

4 Nov 1918

Taylor, Fred

249929

Sapper

DOW

28 May 1918

Towell, S.

31250

L/Corporal

DOW

6 Jun 1918

Legend: KIA – Killed in Action; DOW – Died of Wounds; Died – of disease or accidentally killed.

The following is a statistical analyses of these deaths by various categories during the year 1918:

It should also be noted that during his time with the 1504th Artisan Works Company, this unit also suffered two losses. 9741 Mechanist Sergeant Major Charles Marshfield and 311586 Pioneer Evan Daniel Thomas both died in France, the former on the 3rd of February 1918 and the latter on the 13th of May 1918.

McGregor took leave from Havre to England on the 23rd of December 1918 and returned to duty from leave on the 7th of January 1919. On the 7th of March 1919 he declared his willingness to serve in the Army of Occupation and to forgo demobilization. His Army Form W. 5084[24] shows him serving at Havre, France as a Superintending Clerk and Draughtsman in the Establishment for Engineer Service.

On the 28th of May 1919 McGregor again took 15 days of leave and returned to England. On the 6th of June 1919 his Class II Warrant Parchment was forwarded to his wife at Northcote, Victoria Road in Fleet, Hampshire by the R.E. Record Office. On the 14th of June 1919 he was presented with the Meritorious Service Medal by the Chief Engineer, Aldershot Command. If this presentation occurred while he was on leave from France, his leave must have been extended to allow him to remain in England for the ceremony. There is no record in his service papers that this extension of leave occurred.[25]

McGregor's service papers show that on the 23rd of October 1919 he was employed in the office of the CRE Calais. McGregor continued to serve in France after the war when on the 9th of March 1920 the War Office decided that he should be discharged. The following letter dated the 9th of March 1920 was written to the Chief Engineer, G.H.Q. France by the OIC R.E. Records:

26684 E.C. Q.M.S. J. McGREGOR

The following decision has been received from the Secretary, War Office:-

It is not proposed to recommend the retention in the service beyond 21 years after attaining 18 years of age, of any Warrant Officer (Class II) and N.C. Officers of the Establishment for Engineer Services.

Para. 5 of Army Order 8/1920 is not applicable to soldiers serving on normal engagements and no man who is over 40 years of age can extend under that order.

Q.M.S. McGREGOR'S engagement expired on the 6th inst. He should be discharged.

Home Service (1920)

As a result of the War Office decision, McGregor returned to England on the 14th of March 1920 and began processing for his discharge from the Army. He signed his "Statement as to Disability" on the 17th of March 1920 claiming no disability as a result of his military service. His "Protection Certificate and Certificate of Identity" was issued to him on the 20th of March 1920 at the Purfleet, Essex Dispersal Office. The certificate indicated his rank to be Superintending Clerk with the Establishment for Engineer Services, R.E. His record office was shown as Chatham and his address for pay was listed as Northcote, Victoria Road, Fleet, Hampshire. The certificate further indicated that he had served in France, his medical category was "A",[26] and that his place of rejoining the Army in case of emergency would be at Aldershot.

James McGregor was discharged from the Army on the 16th of April 1920. For his service during the Great War he was awarded the 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal in addition to the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (EVII) and the Meritorious Service Medal (GVR).

6. PROMOTIONS AND CONDUCT

a. Promotions: James McGregor received the following promotions during his time in service:

Date of Promotion or Appointment

Rank or Position

21 May 1892

Boy Soldier upon enlistment in the Army

1 July 1893

Appointed Bugler

21 May 1896

Posted to the ranks as a Sapper

5 August 1902

Appointed Lance Corporal

16 March 1907

Promoted Engineer Clerk Sergeant, E.E.S.

16 March 1910

Promoted Engineer Clerk Staff Sergeant, E.E.S.

12 March 1913

Appointed Engineer Clerk Quartermaster Sergeant, E.E.S.

16 March 1913

Promoted Engineer Clerk Quartermaster Sergeant
and Draughtsman (Warrant Officer Class II), E.E.S.
(highest substantive rank)

17 February 1917

Appointed Acting Superintending Clerk and Draughtsman (Warrant Officer Class I), E.E.S.
(highest acting rank)

2 May 1917

Promoted Temporary Warrant Officer Class I (Temporary Superintending Clerk and Draughtsman), E.E.S.
(highest temporary and latest rank held)

b. Conduct:

James McGregor should have been entitled to at least one Good Conduct Badge and possibly two prior to his promotion to the non-commissioned officer ranks.[27] Unfortunately, the Statement of Services in his military records is so water damaged, that many of the entries are illegible; therefore, his exact entitlements are unknown.

McGregor completed 18 years of service on the 20th of May 1910 and became eligible for the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. The medal was authorized to him by Army Order 254 of 1910.[28]

7. EDUCATION AND QUALIFICATIONS

a. Education: James McGregor earned the following Certificates of Education during his time in service:[29]

Date[30]

Certificate of Education

1893

Awarded a 3rd Class Certificate of Education.

1895

Awarded a 2nd Class Certificate of Education.

October 1901

Awarded a 1st Class Certificate of Education.

b. Qualifications: James McGregor earned the following qualifications during his time in service.

Date

Qualification

28 May 1896

Received a Certificate of Trade Proficiency as a "Fair" Draughtsman from the Ordnance Survey Office, Phoenix Park, Dublin.

7 March 1897

Qualified as a "Fair" Draughtsman by the Commandant, School of Military Engineering.

16 October 1897

Qualified as a "Skilled" Draughtsman by the Commander Royal Engineers, Aldershot.

16 March 1916

Authorized a Service Pay increase to 5s/6d per day.(*)

(*) Service Pay, in addition to their regular pay, was granted to men in the Royal Engineers who demonstrated proficiency in their military trades. Service Pay was awarded in seven classes, with Class I being the highest.

8. MEDICAL INFORMATION

The following medical information was taken from James McGregor's service records during his time in the Army:

Location

Date of
Admission

Ailment

Period of Hospitalization
or Treatment

London

21 May 1892

Medical examination

Found fit for service in the Army.

Malta

16 May 1904

Medical examination

Found fit to re-engage to complete 21 years of service.

Havre, France

17 April 1916

Unspecified in service papers

Admitted to No. 6 Station Hospital. Discharged on 24 April 1916.

9. MARRIAGE AND PERSONAL INFORMATION

At the time of his enlistment in the Army, James McGregor listed his mother Helen as his next of kin. He gave two addresses for her; Glass Street in Edinburgh and 19 Portland Place in Leith. At one point, prior to his marriage, his also listed his brother Robert as his next-of-kin. From these facts it may be assumed that his father died shortly after he enlisted and that his mother died at some time while he was serving.

Staff Sergeant James McGregor was employed in the office of the CRE South Aldershot when he married Katherine Amelia Turner, a spinster, on the 29th of July 1912.[31] The marriage took place in Holy Trinity Church in Eridge Green, Sussex, a town located about three miles southwest of Royal Tunbridge Wells. The marriage ceremony was performed by Reverend John Brabazon and was witnessed by one Sergeant Gallagher, R.E. and a Mr. Sidney Maling. As a relatively senior non-commissioned officer, it may be assumed that McGregor was married with leave from his commanding officer and that his wife was immediately entered on the married rolls.

Mrs. McGregor gave birth to a daughter, Linda Joan St. Clair McGregor, at Aldershot on the 22nd of June 1913. Linda was baptized at Elridge Green on the 24th of August 1913 by Reverend H. Arnold.

10. DISCHARGE

James McGregor was discharged from the Army at Chatham, Kent on the termination of his second period of limited engagement. His total service towards his second engagement was 16 years and 20 days. His total military service was reckoned as shown in the tables below:

Location

Period of Service

Home

21 May 1892 to 19 December 1897

Egypt

20 December 1897 to 2 April 1902

Malta

3 April 1902 to 11 April 1905

Home

12 April 1905 to 29 November 1907

Jamaica

30 November 1907 to 9 January 1911

Home

10 January 1911 to 13 October 1914

France

14 October 1914 to 13 March 1920

Home

14 March 1920 to 16 April 1920

Location

Period of Service

Home Service

11 years and 290 days

Service Abroad

14 years and 140 days

Total Service(*)

26 years and 65 days

(*) Total service including time as a Boy Soldier was actually 27 years and 32 days, all of which counted towards his pension.

At the time of his discharge, McGregor's military character was noted to be "Exemplary" by his commanding officer. McGregor indicated that his intended residence after leaving the service would be Northcote, Victoria Road, Fleet, Hampshire.

11. POST SERVICE LIFE

On the 13th of May 1920 McGregor's records were received at the Royal Hospital Chelsea with a notation indicating that his pension commenced on the 17th of April 1920. On the 2nd of April 1921 McGregor sent a letter from his home in Fleet to the R.E. Record Office at Chatham requesting that he be sent his medals earned during the Great War. He was issued the British War Medal and Victory Medal on the 4th of May 1922. His records do not show when he received the 1914 Star.[32]

James McGregor prepared a will in 1941. In this document his name is shown as James St. Clair McGregor. The name St. Clair first appeared in connection with the naming of his daughter in 1913, but the name does not appear on any of McGregor's military service documents. At the time of preparation of the will, the McGregors lived on Waylands Moore Road in Crookham, Hampshire. In the will McGregor appointed his wife Katherine Amelia McGregor as his Executrix and stipulated that in the event his wife predeceased him, then his daughter Linda Joan St. Clair McGregor would be appointed his Executrix.

James McGregor died on the 12th of August 1970 at St. Richards Hospital in Chichester, West Sussex at the age of 92 years.[33],[34] His death certificate gives his name as James St. Clair McGregor and shows his date of birth as the 5th of May 1878 rather than the 20th of May as shown in his military service papers. His occupation is listed as Architect (retired)[35] and his address is shown as Greenbank, Fordwater Road in Chichester.

The causes of death listed for McGregor on the certificate included 1a) Bronchopneumonia, 1b) Senility and 2) Ischemic colitis.[36] His death was certified by M. Monk, MRCS[37] and was registered by H.F. Ricketts, Registrar for the District of Chichester, West Sussex on the 13th of August 1970. McGregor's daughter Linda was the informant of his death.

James McGregor's daughter had married after the preparation of the will in 1941 and was Linda Joan St. Clair Jervis at the time of her father's death. Katherine McGregor had predeceased James, so Linda was appointed the Executrix of James's will on the 21st of September 1970. The will was probated on that date in Winchester with Linda the sole beneficiary of James McGregor's estate. Linda's address on the probate document is shown as Greenbank, Fordwater Road, Chichester. Apparently James had been living with Linda and her husband up until the time of his death.

ADDENDUM NO. 1. 1881 Census Family Information

Thanks to Mr. Jeffery Mance of Montreal, Canada, the 1881 census information for the McGregor family was located. Mr. Mance provided the source of this information to the author in an email dated 5 August 2004. The information shown in the table below subsequently was located on the 1881 Census of England CD-ROM compiled by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Dwelling: 13 Arden Street
Census Place: Gillingham, Kent, England
Source: Family History Library Film 1341211, Public Record Office Reference RG11, Piece 0890, Folio 112, Page 6.
Name and Occupation

Relation

Marital Status

Age

Sex Birthplace
John McGregor
Q.M. Sergeant, Royal Engineers

Head

Married

35

M

Scotland
Helen H. McGregor
Soldier's Wife

Wife

Married

29

F

Scotland
James St. Clair McGregor

Son

 

3

M

Scotland
Mary Isabell McGregor

Daughter

 

2

F

Chatham, Kent
Robert Campbell McGregor

Son

 

5 mos.

M

Gillingham, Kent

The census return shows that in addition to his brother Robert, James also had a sister. This information amends the EARLY LIFE AND FAMILY INFORMATION provided in Section 2 of the narrative.

REFERENCES

Books

1. BAKER BROWN, W. The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume IV. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1952.

2. COCKERILL, A.W. Sons of the Brave: The Story of Boy Soldiers. Leo Cooper, London, 1984.

3. FARWELL, B. Mr. Kipling’s Army: All the Queen’s Men. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1981.

4. GRIERSON, J.M. Scarlet Into Khaki: The British Army on the Eve of the Boer War. Greenhill Books, London, 1988.

5. INSTITUTION OF ROYAL ENGINEERS. The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume V. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1952.

6. INSTITUTION OF ROYAL ENGINEERS. The Work of the Royal Engineers in the European War, 1914-1919: Work Under the Director of Works (France). The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1924.

7. LETTS, C. Roadbook of Britain. Charles Letts and Company Limited, London, 1977.

8. McINNES, I. The Meritorious Service Medal: The Immediate Awards, 1916-1928. The Naval and Military Press and Liverpool Medal Co. Ltd., 1992.

9. MERRIAM WEBSTER. Geographical Dictionary, Springfield, MA, 1997.

10. SKELLEY, A.R. The Victorian Army at Home: The Recruitment and Terms and Conditions of the British Regular, 1859-1899. McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 1977.

Computer Software

Soldiers Died in the Great War. The Naval & Military Press Ltd., Heathfield, East Sussex, 1998.

Documents

1. The service papers of James McGregor consisting of the following documents:

a. Long Service Attestation.
b. Description on Enlistment.
c. Statement of Services.
d. Military History Sheet.
e. Certificate of Trade Proficiency.
f. Trade and Special Qualifications.
g. Re-Engagement Paper.
h. National Insurance Act, 1911.
i. Letter dated 15 July 1913 from the War Office to R.E. Record Office.
j. Request for Continuance in Service.
k. Marriage, Births and Baptisms (Army Form A. 22).
l. Confidential Report on Warrant and Non-Commissioned Officer.
m. Employment Sheet.
n. Telegram dated 12 October 1914 from R.E. Record Office to Commandant, Aldershot.
o. Casualty Form - Active Service.
p. Demobilization Certificate.
q. Protection Certificate and Certificate of Identity.
r. Letter dated 2 April 1921 from J. McGregor to R.E. Record Office.
s. Receipt for Medals.
t. Statement as to Disability.
u. Letter dated 9 March 1920 from R.E. Record Office to Chief Engineer, GHQ France.
v. Army Orders 254 - October 1910, page 34.
w. Medal Index Card.

2. The Will of James St. Clair McGregor dated 9-?-1941.

3. Probate Register of the Will of James St. Clair McGregor dated 21 September 1970.

4. Certified Copy of an Entry of Death, QBDX 304499, General Register Office, London, 7 May 2004.

Periodicals

1. London Gazette, 17 June 1918.

2. Monthly Army List, April 1903.

3. Royal Engineers List, January 1908.

4. Royal Engineers List, August 1912.

5. The Sapper, November 1970.

Research Papers

LARIMORE, F. Rules for Awarding Good Conduct Badges, Philadelphia, 2003.

ENDNOTES

[1] The town of Wick is located in the Highlands on the North Sea. It is a County town and Royal Burgh and an important fishing village noted for herring curing. The town is located on a small bay south of Sinclair's Bay and Noss Head, with fine cliffs to the north and south of the town. Several castle ruins are located in and around the town.

[2] John McGregor's Victorian Long Service and Good Conduct Medal also is in the author's collection. His military service also is being researched and will be published separately.

[3] Robert McGregor's Regimental Number in the Royal Engineers was 28974, indicating that he probably enlisted about 1895.

[4] See Recruitment of Boy Soldiers.

[5] See Periods of Enlistment for the Corps of Royal Engineers.

[6] See Age and Physical Requirements for Soldiers in the British Army and the Corps of Royal Engineers (Victorian Period).

[7] See Duties of a Royal Engineers Bugler.

[8] See Engineer Recruit Training.

[9] Robert was probably two years junior to James and had to wait until his 14th birthday before he could enlist. The absence of the McGregor family from the 1881 British Census makes this difficult to verify. A search was made in the National Archives for the service papers of James McGregor. Unfortunately, no papers could be found in War Office files WO 97, WO 343 or WO 364. A search of Soldiers Died in the Great War also provided negative results. It is likely that Robert McGregor served beyond the Great War period.

[10] See Re-Engagement in the Regular Army.

[11] Monthly Army List, April 1903, p. 1180.

[12] See Establishment for Engineer Services.

[13] Royal Engineers List, January 1908, p. xxviii.

[14] See Extensions of Service of the Regular Army.

[15] This information is contained on Army Form O. 1832 where it is noted that while serving with this unit McGregor elected to continue insurance under the National Insurance Act of 1911.

[16] Royal Engineers List, August 1912, p. xx.

[17] Darlington was attached to the 5th Field Company but was actually employed as the Acting Adjutant of the 2nd Division Royal Engineers.

[18] See Continuance with the Regular Army after 21 Year's Service.

[19] The 29th (Works) Company arrived in France on the 12th of August 1914. The mission of a Works Company was to provide engineer support and services between Army Headquarters and the rear area bases. Later in the war the 29th (Works) Company was redesignated as the 29th Advanced Park Company, R.E.

[20] A search of Soldiers Died in the Great War indicated that the 29th (Works) Company did not suffer any fatalities during the time that McGregor was assigned to the company, despite heavy fighting during the period.

[21] Soldiers/Officers Died in the Great War does not indicate that any casualties were suffered by this unit during the war.

[22] Three men of the company died in 1917, one of wounds received in action and two from disease or accidental injuries. These men died in France after McGregor had left the company. The fifth man of the 32nd Company to die during the war died in Salonika in 1918.

[23] McInnes, p. 117.

[24] This is an interesting and unique document. This is the first Army Form W. 5084 the author has seen during many years of research.

[25] It is also interesting to note that at the bottom of the "Receipt for Meritorious Service Medal" contained in McGregor's service papers is the notation 1850023. This appears to be a notation to the effect that he was issued his new Army Number at about this time. The strike through of the number is puzzling and not explained anywhere is his service papers. The author has information obtained from The Sapper magazine dated September 1929 to indicate that Army Number 1850023 was actually issued to Quartermaster Sergeant H.J. Mc Donald, R.E. who also had served in the Establishment for Engineer Services. It appears that the notation on McGregor's MSM paperwork was written there in error.

[26] Medical Category "A" indicated that he was fit for general service without restriction.

[27] See Good Conduct Pay.

[28] This medal is in the author's collection.

[29] See Certificates of Education.

[30] The exact dates of each award are not known due to the water damage to McGregor's service papers.

[31] See Marriage of Soldiers during the Victorian Period. Although McGregor was married during the reign of King George V, little had changed with regard to the conditions of marriage for soldiers in the British Army by that time.

[32] Mc Gregor's 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal are in the author's collection.

[33] The Sapper, November 1970, p. 420.

[34] Death Certificate.

[35] The author could not uncover any information to determine whether McGregor had actually received any formal training and certification as an architect. He may, in fact, have been an architectural draughtsman based on his qualifications while in the Army.

[36] Ischemia is defined as a decrease in blood flow to a bodily organ, tissue or part caused by constriction or obstruction of the blood vessels, with colitis being an inflammation of the colon.

[37] Member of the Royal College of Surgeons.