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William CawSection manager of Nitro Cotton Drying Area
Email on Special Brigade Royal Engineers: ‘William was born in Crieff, Perthshire in 1889/1890. The 1911 Scotland Census shows he was a chemistry student lodging at an address in Springburn, Glasgow. I cannot find him the Glasgow University Roll of Honour, which records those who served as well as those who died – however there are omissions in these type of records. In 1914 or the first half of 1915 he joined the ranks of the Highland Light Infantry and was given the number 15257. In May 1915- June 1915, letters were sent to universities and colleges asking for men with experience in chemistry to enlist and the army was trawled for men with similar experience and/or qualifications. William was would have been one of the latter clearly. He did not serve overseas with the HLI so he would have been sent to the Royal Engineers and sent to “M” Depot Company at St Mary’s Barracks, Chatham in late June 1915 with the number 106347. He disembarked on 3 July 1915 at Le Havre and then, along with the rest of the party, would have entrained for Wizernes some 4 miles south of St Omer. They then had to march up the steep escarpment, passing along the way, the old chalk quarry where they would train with the Webley revolver which was their main weapon until they were issued with rifles in January 1918. They then marched up to the newly established Special Companies Depot in the school at Helfaut. The men were then allocated in billets in Helfaut and the surrounding villages of Hallines, Blencques, and Wisques. He would have serve in either 186, 187, 188 or 189 companies in 1915 and probably was present at the first British gas attack on Saturday 25 September , 1916 and subsequent operations. He would have been transferred to Class W of the Army Reserve in 1916. This was a new class of reserve for men whose skills were deemed to be more useful to the war effort at home. They were however subject to being recalled at any time should the need arise.’
Name and address appears in the Dornock Farewell, held in The Devil’s Porridge Museum’s archive collection.