The remains of an Auchterarder soldier killed in the First World War may have been discovered more than a century after his death.
Ministry of Defence (MOD) researchers have launched an appeal to track down descendants of Private John Wilson.
Generally family appeals are made when it is thought remains have been discovered which belong to a previously unidentified soldier.
Who was Private John Wilson?
John served with the 6th battalion Black Watch and was killed in action during July 1916 in the Somme theatre of war.
The young soldier was born in Glasgow, but was considered a Perthshire lad having spent many years living in Auchterarder.
Prior to the outbreak of war, John was a driver for the town’s grocer Robert Nisbet Smith.
When he enlisted to fight, he started off in the transport section of the regiment before returning to the ranks.
John saw action in France but was sadly killed on July 30 1916 at the age of 27, in a period of heavy losses for the Black Watch regiment.
He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France, a monument to the missing of the Somme.
It bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme area before March 20 1918 and have no known grave.
John died in what was described as an important and valiant advance in the Somme theatre of war, when the regiment was tasked with taking two German trenches.
A report in the Evening Telegraph said: “The heroic way in which they acquitted themselves is in accord with the long and glorious traditions of the regiment.
“Wounded men who have come through the fight have nothing but praise for the magnificent manner in which all ranks conducted themselves.
“The Germans were not altogether taken by surprise. A heavy bombardment of their trenches at the point was significant to them.
“Notwithstanding the destruction done by our artillery, a large number of them stuck firmly in the dug-outs.”
One of the wounded who survived and reported back to the Tele said: “Advancing slowly but steadily, we reached the point from which the final charge was to be made.
“The order was eagerly awaited, and no sooner was it given than every man in the leading platoon was over the parapet.
“The Germans met the charge with every weapon of destruction they could command but it was to no purpose.
“Nothing would stop the onrushing kilties, and the Germans were so taken aback by the steadiness and courage that when some of us got on to their parapet they were throwing bombs away before setting the fuses off.”
The report added that there had been heavy losses, but all involved agreed that officers and men “brought a new distinction not only on the regiment, but on the several districts around Dundee to which they belong”.
The losses, however, were keenly felt in Auchterarder.
During that single advance, the close-knit community saw five soldiers killed, including Captain John Hally of Ruthven Towers, and a further nine wounded.
Conveying news of John and the other casualties, the Courier lamented the “unprecedentedly heavy losses for a place of such a small population as Auchterarder”.
Plea to find family
Now, 105 years after John’s death, the Ministry of Defence War Detectives are seeking to track down his family members.
The MOD War Detectives are a small band of MOD staff who investigate the discovery of the remains of British Forces personnel on historic battlefields across the world.
The researchers use military records and information to try to identify remains, and genealogy to then track down surviving descendants of soldiers.
In an appeal, the MOD War Detectives shared limited information they have about John Wilson and are hoping somebody might recognise the details and family.
The plea said: “Can you help us find the whereabouts of the family of Private (1791) John Wilson of 6th Black Watch?
“He was born in 1888/1889 in Govan Hill, Glasgow and died while serving in France on 30 July 1916.”
It is believed his war gratuity was paid to a Helen Wilson or Brown, but researchers have so far been unable to confirm whether this was a wife or sister.
According to the Auchterarder Roll of Honour, John lived at Strathern House and saw home service at North Queensferry, South Queensferry, Dalmeny, Inverkeithing, Wormit, Dundee and Bedford.
Previous successful appeals have seen DNA successful DNA matches between soldiers and their descendants, with First World War casualties buried with full military honours and commemorated decades after their deaths.
Could you be a relative of Private John Wilson? Anyone with information that could help track down relatives can contact the War Detectives via their Facebook page or email at: DBS-MODWarDetectives@mod.gov.uk
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