Second Lieutenant James Drysdale Meikle was born in Crossford near Dunfermline on 11 July 1888 to John Thomson Meikle  and Jane Ann Mailer Kelt. They lived at Strathearn Villa, 49 Grantsbank Street, Dunfermline and James’ father was an Inspector of the Poor and Collector of Rates. James had a sister Jane, born in 1894. He attended Dunfermline High School and on leaving, was employed by the Parish Council as a Clerk.

When James initially enlisted for service in World War One, he joined the 9th Royal Scots as a Private and saw action at the Battle of the Somme where he was wounded.  In August 1917, he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) and it was while they were involved in the attack on Louvignies near Cambrai that he was killed in action on 4 November 1918. He was at the time attached to the 111th Trench Mortar Battery.

The following is an extract from the Annals of the KRRC Vol V The Great War by Major General Stewart Hare:

On November 4th, our 13th Battalion took part in the attack by the 111th Brigade on a line running North and South of the village of Louvignies-les-Quesnoy. On the right of the Brigade the 13th KRRC were to take first objective and then, when the 10th Royal Fusiliers had passed through them, to be responsible for “mopping up” the village of Louvignies.

At 0530 hours the barrage opened and at 0534 hours the leading companies of the 13th KRRC and 13th Rifle Brigade advanced, the former closely followed by the 10th Royal Fusiliers. The enemy replied with a heavy barrage, which fortunately fell behind the attacking troops and did little damage beyond interfering with the laying of wires between battalions and the brigade. Both Battalions encountered strong opposition. Our 13th Battalion came under heavy machine gun fire from the orchards and hedges on the western outskirts of Louvignies. In many cases, as soon as our men were within hand-to-hand fighting distance, the enemy surrendered, but here and there more determined resistance was encountered and had to be dealt with by the bayonet. About 70 dead Germans were counted on the front of C Company alone. Both Battalions had reached their objective by the scheduled time 0715 hrs.

The village was “mopped up” by the supporting companies, B and D, and soon cleared of the enemy. One NCO of B company fought three Germans in a cellar and killed all three, his weapon being a small hand-axe. About seven enemy officers and 270 other ranks were taken prisoners. The village was reported clear at 0815 hrs. The Battalion spent the rest of the day consolidating the position they had won, and during the following night the division was relieved by the 5th Division and the Battalion moved into billets at Beaurain. Enemy casualties wounded eight officers, other ranks killed, wounded and missing 98. British losses two officers, 2/Lt James Meikle and Capt. Robert Poole and 21 other ranks.  

For his war service, having been wounded and gassed, James was commended by Major General M Williams as having distinguished himself by his conduct in the field. He was mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s Despatches for ‘Meritorious Action in the Field’.

In the Dunfermline High School Roll of Honour –  2nd Lt James Drysdale Meikle – His commanding officer wrote:

His loss is a great blow to his Battalion and he will be deeply mourned. He was admired and respected by both officers and men for his unfailing good fellow-ship, and his keen and deep sense of duty. He was a gallant officer and will be sorely missed.

James was laid to rest in Beaurain British Cemetery on 7 November 1918. On his headstone, ‘Safe in Jesus’ arms’. Beaurain is a village and commune 12 miles south of Valenciennes and just over two miles from Solesmes Railway Station. It covers an area of 553sq yards, is enclosed by a low stone rubble wall and has planted Crab apple trees.

His parents moved to Clementon Cottage, Scone. His sister Jane married Alfred Normand, a Law Clerk in October 1922 in St Andrews. 

 Second Lieutenant James Drysdale Meikle

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Second Lieutenant James Drysdale Meikle.

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