Search to find soldier’s relatives

Alexander Reid's grave at Angiens, Normandy
Alexander Reid's grave at Angiens, Normandy

An appeal has been launched in a bid to trace the relatives of an Inverurie soldier who died while serving with the Gordon Highlanders.

Alexander Reid died in France in 1940, and is one of only four Gordon Highlanders buried in Angiens Courtyard in Normandy.

He was killed in action on June 12, 1940.

He had arrived in France just a short time before he was killed.

The 51st (Highland) Division were forced to surrender at St Valery-en-Caux when, unlike the successful evacuations at Dunkirk about two weeks earlier, fog and heavy rain prevented the evacuation of the Scottish soldiers.

This was considered to be the worst military disaster to affect Scotland during World War Two.

Stewart Mitchell said: “As the author of the book ‘St Valery and its Aftermath’, which tells the story of the Gordon Highlanders in France, I was contacted recently by French Gendarmerie Major Savary in Northern France. He asked for my assistance to contact the families of the four Gordon Highlanders who are buried in Angiens Churchyard.

“Major Savary has organised many commemoration events in the past and has had a lifelong interest in the 51st (Highland) Division, which is why her came to read my book.

“He wanted to arrange a special commemoration for Alexander Reid and his comrades in June next year, for this he would like any members of Alexander’s family to attend.”

Stewart’s research shows that Alexander enlisted into the Gordon Highlanders around November 1939, and he was just 22 when he died.

A press article at the time confirmed his parents were Alexander B. Reid and Annie Reid of Inverurie.

Alexander was a member of the Inverurie West Church Choir and before joining the army he worked for the Northern Co-operative Society.

Next June marks the 80th anniversary of the failed evacuations at St Valery-en-Caux, just two weeks after the successful evacuations at Dunkirk, and the death of Alexander Reid.

The fate of the 51st (Highland) Division in France in 1940 was considered the worst disaster to affect Scotland in the whole of World War Two.

Some 10,000 men were captured, some 2,000 of which were Gordon Highlanders and local to the North East of Scotland.

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