Falkirk family trace grave of World War One soldier

Harry Gibson's grave is now distinctive with a ceramic poppy from last year's Tower of London display
Harry Gibson's grave is now distinctive with a ceramic poppy from last year's Tower of London display

A family will spend this Remembrance Sunday thinking of a relative killed during World War One after tracking down his war grave in France.

Harry Gibson was only 19 when he perished on October 13, 1918 during the Great War – just a month before the conflict came to an end.

He was from Glebe Street in Falkirk, but his family, including great nephew Craig Wilson (46), knew little details about him until they found his service number in The Falkirk Herald’s Roll of Honour last year which we printed to remember more than 3000 brave souls who lost their lives in the war from this area.

Craig, a media technology consultant originally from Falkirk but now living in Aberdeen, said: “While we knew he had served and had been killed we really did not know much about him, and had struggled to find out information about him.

“Harry was on the Roll of Honour list last year but what made the big difference was that this included his service number and also the location of his grave, which is in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintained graveyard at Avesnes Les Sec.

“It is a small village in North Western France, not too far from the border with Belgium.

Craig and other family members visited Harry’s grave and laid a ceramic poppy from the Tower of London at his headstone which reads, ‘A Native of Falkirk, Until the Day Dawn’, which was requested by his parents.

Craig added: “We are really grateful for the information that the Herald provided as this was the key part to allow us to trace Harry and led to our trip to lay it at his graveside.”

Day Harry died was one of ‘heavy and costly fighting’

Harry Gibson served as a private with the Gordon Highlanders.

The History of the 51st (Highland) Division,charts the day he died, October 13, 1918, as one of ‘heavy and costly fighting’ with Harry facing a determined enemy.

The record reports: “It was evident from the outset that the enemy was amking a determined stand south of Valenciennes, so as to secure the flanks of his withdrawals that were taking place in other parts of the front. Indeed, orders captured during forthcoming operations showed that the troops had been instructed to hold the line of the river Selle at all costs.

“Those of the men who had successfully crossed the open in face of hostile fire were at once subjected to close-range fire from all sides.”