Urgent appeal to trace fallen private’s family

Private John Anderson
Private John Anderson

The Ministry of Defence has launced an urgent appeal to trace family of a private of the 4th Bettalion The Gordon Highlanders Regiment who was killed in World War One.

They are looking for relations of Private John Anderson who was killed on 28 April 1915 whilst fighting in the trenches in Vlamertinghe area of West Ypres in Belgium.

Today through the research undertaken by the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) to confirm the location of his final resting place they are now appealing for the Private’s family or indeed anyone who knew him to get in touch after his grave site was finally identified over a century after he died.

Although his place and date of birth are both unknown at this point, MOD JCCC do know that John was single and the fifth son of James and Annie Anderson who at the time of his death lived in Don Cottage in Port Elphinstone, Inverurie.

His father was a baker whilst John was a butcher with the Don Co-operative Society in Kemnay.

John enlisted in the Army in Aberdeen between 28 September and 30 October 1914 and he went on active service to France and Flanders in Belgium, landing in France to join his Battalion on 26 March 1915.

He was killed on 28 April 1915 and his body was never found.

Over a century later, new clear and convincing evidence has been presented to the MOD’s JCCC confirming that he was actually buried soon after his death as an “Unknown soldier of the 4th Battalion the Gordon Highlanders Regiment” in Birr Cross Roads Cemetery Belgium.

Sue Raftree MBE, JCCC said: “The JCCC were in receipt of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) burial documentation for the Birr Cross Roads Cemetery which showed an unknown soldier of the 4th Battalion The Gordon Highlanders Regiment killed on 28 May 1915.

“Further research showed that he was the only soldier killed from the 4th Battalion on that date without a grave. Therefore it could only be Private Anderson.”

Now an appeal has been launched by the MOD’s JCCC to track down any of John’s surviving relatives so that they can be invited to attend a service of rededication of his grave, which is to be held later this year.

If you are related or indeed know of the family please contact Sue Raftree MBE, MOD JCCC, on 01452 712612 extension 6303 or email her on: DBS-JCCCCommem1SO3@mod.uk.