1504 Private James Armstrong M.M.
C Company 1/6th(Perthshire)Battalion
(Territorial)Battalion
The Black Watch
(Royal Highlanders)Regiment
13th November 1916 

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hunt3bPrivate James Armstrong MM.jpg

Born in Duff Street, Edinburgh, Scotland at 9.30pm on 20/03/1898. His parents were William Armstrong(1873-21/06/1940) and Catherine Geddes Cameron(1874-07/05/1936). They were married on 05/07/1895.

James had 4 brothers, William(1897-01/11/1917), David(20/12/1899-17/06/1940), Daniel Guthrie(25/02/1906-1979) and George(09/09/1914-2004).

In the 1901 Scottish census the family were recorded as living at 72 Watergate, Perth, Scotland. William snr. was employed as a garment dyer.

James enlisted in Perth and was sent to France on 02/05/1915.

Perthshire Constitutional & Journal – Monday 13 December 1915

Perth Brothers wounded

Private William Armstrong, 18 South Street Perth, has two sons with the colours. The eldest son, Private William Armstrong,

of the 1st Scottish Horse, was recently wounded, but is back again in the trenches: while the other son,

Private James Armstrong of the 6th Black Watch, is at present in an hospital in Rouen.

 

The following newspaper clipping confirms that James had been wounded, but not the cause of it.   

Perthshire Constitutional & Journal – Wednesday 05 January 1916

Caledonian Road School

Roll of Honour

The following is the Roll of Honour of former pupils of Caledonian Road School now serving with the Colours: -

….

Armstrong, James 6th Black Watch, wounded.

James returned to his battalion and was involved in the Battle of the Somme on 30th July when his battalion and 1/5th Gordons attacked the southern point at the eastern corner of High Wood( north west of Longueval) and it was possibly here that James' actions earnt him the Military Medal.    

Perthshire Advertiser – Wednesday 30 August 1916

War Honour for Fair City.

Young Perth Soldier Wins The Military Medal.

“Good Work in the Attack.”

First of 6th Black Watch Heroes Decorated.

Private James Armstrong 18 Years of Age.

 

News of an unusually interesting character is just to hand from the Black Watch, who at the moment are in the trenches.

From time to time, Perth has been cherishing the hope of some of the individual men of the battalion distinguishing themselves, and to-day we are able to record the first instance of the Military Medal being won by one of” The Sixth.”

Additionally pleasing it is to state that the honour falls to one of the very youngest lads in the battalion – Private James Armstrong, “C” Company, second son of Mr Wm. Armstrong ex-dyer, 20 South Street, Perth.

A Perthshire Advertiser reporter visited the parents home this forenoon and found the father in joyful anticipation of a communication from his son, who evidently is modestly “hiding his light under a bushel,” the reliable information of James’ success having filtered through a channel other than a direct letter from the hero himself. The fact is a well-known member of “The Sixth,” a comrade of Private Armstrong gives briefly the particulars in a letter to his parents. This comrade, who prior to war was a young City Corporation official, writes under the date 22nd August: -

“Your welcome letter reached me yesterday (August 21st) and the nice box came in to-day. I can tell you I was glad to see a clean shirt. ‘The Sixth’ are still in the trenches and we are going along quite well, but the weather is miserable just now, and at nights rather cold. It strikes me we shall have another winter campaign if the war doesn’t stop soon.  You know Jim Armstrong of 20 South Street. He has been awarded the Military Medal for good work in the attack.”

The above statement though brief, coming from such a source leaves no doubt in regard to young Armstrong’s success, and doubtless it will give rise to the keenest gratification in the city as a whole as well as in “Perthshire’s Own” regiment.

A few particulars regarding Private Armstrong should be read with interest. He is just eighteen years of age. It would appear that his training in the city as a Boy Scout stirred in him the martial strain, for he enlisted in the 6th Battalion of the Territorials some sixth months before the war- when barely 16!”  He mobilised with the battalion, and it is worthy of note that before it left the country special permission had to be obtained from his parents prior to his departure.

They put no barrier in the way of their son’s military ambition and should be proud of the outcome to-day. The young man has come through all the trials experienced by his regiment since it first set foot in France, and when home on short leave in February last, he looked fit and well – a splendidly grown well set-up fellow for his age. Prior to the outbreak of war, Private Armstrong, who has another brother under the colours, was employed as an apprentice boot repairer with Mr M’Laggan, Canal Crescent. In the city he was interested in athletics, and as a lad was an enthusiastic Scout gymnast. Many will congratulate

Mr and Mrs Armstrong (the father is an invalid) on their son’s success.  

 

  

Third Supplement to The London Gazette Gazette issue 29758. Page 9199. 

Date:19/09/1916

 His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to award the Military Medal for bravery in the field.

...

1504 Pte. J. Armstrong

 

Sadly James never got to receive his medal, as on 13/11/1916,on the first day of the Battle of Ancre, James and his battalion were trying to take the village of Beaumont -Hamel when James was killed by an exploding shell.

 

As well as the Military Medal, James was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the 1914-1918 British War and Allied Victory medals.     

Perth Advertiser – Wednesday 22 November 1916

 Black Watch Casualties

...

Private James Armstrong, Black Watch, son of Mr and Mrs Armstrong, 18 South Street, Perth, has been killed in action.

He was only 18 years of age and was awarded the Military Medal in July last. He had been at the front for about eighteen months.  

Perthshire Constitutional & Journal – Wednesday 22 November 1916

 Black Watch Hard Hit.

 Big List of Casualties

 

Official intimation has been received by Mr and Mrs Armstrong, 18 South Street, Perth, that their son, Private James Armstrong, Black Watch, has been killed in action. Private Armstrong, who gained the military Medal in July last, joined the army shortly after the outbreak of war, and went to France one year past in May. Deceased, who was 18 years of age, was, prior to enlistment, employed as a shoemaker with Mr M'Lagan, Charterhouse Lane, Perth. He was also a member of the 12th Coy., Perthshire Boy Scouts, and has another brother serving in Egypt.

Perthshire Advertiser – Wednesday 06 June 1917

 The Late Private Armstrong

6th Black Watch

A Posthumous Award

 In Saturday’s issue prominence was given to the presentation of the Military Medal gained for gallantry in the field by Private James Armstrong, 6th Black Watch, second son of Mr and Mrs Armstrong, 18 South Street, Perth. We in advertently stated that the medal was presented by his grace the Duke of Montrose to Private Armstrong, at the impressive ceremony at Holyrood on Wednesday last, whereas the presentation was made to Mrs Armstrong, whose son sad to state, made the supreme sacrifice in France a good many months ago. We had dealt fully with the success of the young man on the occasion of his gaining the medal in August last, and the error on Saturday was occasioned through our not having received intimation of Private Armstrong’s sacrifice. One of the youngest members of “The Sixth” to proceed to France with the regiment, he gave his life for his country before he had attained his twentieth year. Mr and Mrs Armstrong, the loss of whose son is sorely felt have another son serving.  

William his brother had enlisted as Private 3296 in the 1st Scottish Horse, but had later transferred as

Corporal 55975 211th Company Machine Gun Corps. He was killed in action on 01/11/1917  and is buried in Gaza War Cemetery(65kms southwest of Tel-Aviv, Israel) plot ref. XXIV D.6.

Perthshire Advertiser – Saturday 04 October 1924

51st Division Memorial.

Perth Representative at Beaumont Hamel

Perth’s only representative at the unveiling of the 51st Highland Division memorial at Beaumont Hamel was Mrs William Armstrong, 18 South Street.

Mrs Armstrong who lost two sons in the war, visited the grave of the younger, Pte. James Armstrong, M.M.,

1/6th Black Watch, who was killed, along with 47 other Perth and Perthshire men by the bursting of a shell at

Beaumont Hamel on 13th November 1916. He was only 161/2 years when he enlisted. Mrs Armstrong was actually in correspondence with her son’s commanding officer on the subject of his release when she received the news, he had been killed in action  

Perthshire Advertiser – Saturday 13 November 1926

 In Memoriam

 Armstrong – In loving memory of our dear sons, Pte. James Armstrong, M.M., Black Watch, killed at Beaumont-Hamel, France, on 13th November ,1916; and Corporal William Armstrong, M.G.C., killed at Gasa, Palestine, on 1st November 1917.

‘Tis sweet to think we’ll meet again,

Where troubles are no more,

And that ones we loved so dear

Have just gone on before.

- Mr and Mrs Armstrong, 18 South Street Perth.

Perthshire Advertiser – Wednesday 14 November 1928

 In Memoriam

 Armstrong – In loving memory of our dear sons, James Armstrong, M.M., Black Watch, killed at Beaumont-Hamel, France, on 13th November ,1916; and William Armstrong, M.G.C., killed at Gasa, Palestine, on 1st November 1917.

Time may come and bring its changes,

Fresh with every coming year,

But their memory will be cherished

In the hearts that loved them dear.

Inserted by Mr and Mrs Armstrong, 18 south Street, Perth

Perthshire Advertiser – Wednesday 13 November 1929

In Memoriam

Armstrong – In loving memory of our dear sons, Pte. James Armstrong, M.M., Black Watch, killed at Beaumont-Hamel, France, on 13th November ,1916; and Corporal William Armstrong, M.G.C., killed at Gasa, Palestine, on 1st November 1917.

“Their names liveth for evermore”

Inserted by their father and mother, 18 South Street, Perth.

In the second world war, younger brother David was Lance Serjeant T/33910 Royal Army Service Corps at 1 Base Supply Depot. On 17/06/1940, David was aboard the S.S. Lancastria, waiting to be evacuated from Dunkirk, France, when the ship was bombed by the Luftwaffe and sunk. David was one of the thousands of men that went down with the ship that day.

He is remembered on the Dunkirk Memorial Part 1 Column 133, Dunkirk Town Cemetery, France.