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  • Christina Drummond

Company Serjeant-Major James Scott, 14th (Young Citizens) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Company Serjeant-Major James Scott, 14th (Young Citizens) Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, was killed in action at Messines in West Flanders.

The battalion was raised in September of 1914 from the Belfast Volunteers, and after training they joined the 108th Brigade, 36th (Ulster) Division. The division was formed from the Ulster Volunteer Force, such formation noted as being complicated due to the tension around the issue of Home Rule. The battalion landed at Boulogne in October of 1914 on their way to Arras, and later on to the trenches in the front line north of the River Ancre near Albert. They suffered heavy casualties on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Serjeant-Major Scott had joined the army at a very young age, convincing the recruiting officer he was several years older - and getting away with the untruth as did many underage boys years later at the outbreak of the Great War. It is known that he was involved in the fighting in the Second Boer War, 1899-1902.

One of the entries in the diary Serjeant-Major Scott kept for 1916 during the Great War consisted of the names of the ten men who were killed in the fighting at Authuile, near Martinsart. When he went home on leave later in the year he visited as many of the families of these men as he could find at the time, and sadly did not survive to return to find those remaining on his list. He is buried in the La Plus Douve Farm Cemetery, at Hainault in Belgium.

James, from Balmoral, Belfast, was 35 years old and married.

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