3167 DANIEL BARKER MCMEECHAN
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
Daniel Barker McMeechan signed up to the 9th (Reserve) Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on 16th December 1914 aged 19 - although his age is likely untrue. He listed his address as 12 Reid Place, Kirkintilloch - a small town to the North East of Glasgow. He was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Embarking in Southampton for France on 3rd May 1915 he was in country for only a matter of weeks until he was hospitalised for Gas Poisoning, while fighting on the Ypres Front, on 25th May 1915, being transferred back to England a day later.
While convalescing back in Scotland, McMeechan was interviewed by a local paper - The Kirkintilloch Herald - and had his story published on the 9th June 1915:
"Fighting the Germans at Sixteen. Kirkintillock Lad's Experience"
Private Daniel Mecchan of the 2 /9th A. & S.H., reported in our columns last week having been “gassed” in the trenches at Ypres on the 24th May, is at present home on seven days’ leave. Private McMeechan, who resides in Reid Place,. Kirkintilloch, was formerly a painter with Mr. Mclndoe. He will not be seventeen years of age till the 20th of this month, and was easily
THE YOUNGEST SOLDIER
In his regiment. The 2/9th left Hawick on the 3rd May and were sent direct to the firing line, in the vicinity of Ypres, being attached to the 27th Division of the Infantry Brigade. They arrived in time to take over the treches held by the 1/9th. who were being relieved after twenty-seven days, and had lost heavily. Private McMeechan says they could hardly realise that they were at the much-talked-of front and were really against the Germans, and wanted to see them badly. He was to see them, however, and no distant date, for after getting accustomed to trench life, used to the continuous roar of artillery duels, they were ordered the 10th May to make an endeavour to reinforce the Gloucesters and the King's Royal Rifles. This was thought to lie the worst they could asked to do, having to
CROSS AN OPEN
under very heavy shell fire. They did not succeed their effort, and lost a lot of men. They we re cut off, and had to hold back, otherwise they would have been exterminated altogether. It was on this day they lost their colonel. The next great day for the 2/9ths was the 24th, the day on which Private McMecchan got “gassed.” He states that in the grey dawn of the morning they occupied the third line of trenches to the east of Ypres. Major Christie gave them orders to stand to. The air was thick with gas, and they had all their respirators on. Of course in the third line they did not feel the chlorine gas badly, but there was plenty of the shellgas about. The Dublin Fusiliers, who were the first line of trenches, had retire the second line, forced by the
THICK WALL GAS.
A minute of two after they go order to stand to, they were told advance, and rushed to the second line, getting into the trenches with difficulty, because the Dublins were now there. It was a sorry sight to see the soldiers gasping and choking for want of breath. Reinforced now, the Dublins took heart and rushed again into the first line which they had just vacated with the Argylls in company. The at artillery fire was now fearful, and the gas was terribly strong. They were scarcely strong enough to hold the line, but wond came that the Warwicks were coming up to reinforce. This effort failed, but the Seaforths came up the right. In the trench at this time Private McMeechan was
NEAR CAPTAIN BROWN,
who was sitting with a revolver in his hand. He passed the word along for the men to stand to the Germans having now made up their minds charge the trenches. He remembered Lieutenant Jordan coming up to the captain and saying that the enemy had got the range of his bit the trench with their artillery, one shell having killed eight men, and the sergeant had got his hand blown off. He also said that Sergeant Fulton had been killed and Sergeant Harrison wounded. The German shell fire was playing havoc with the parapet of their trenches, but the British artillery were also making the German sand bags fly. The first line trench would be about a hundred yards from the Germans. A minute or two after Lieutenant Jordan had spoken to Captain Brown they heard a shout, “here they come, boys,'’ and then there was another louder shout.
“NOW THEN ARGYLLS.”
They fired away at the Germans as they rushed until they came within charging distance, then at that moment they leapt over the parapets —a not very difficult task —with bayonets fixed and into them. There were a good few of the kilties killed in the charge, but many more Germans, for the Seaforth reinforcements were now up. The 2/9th were on the right, and had not the brunt of the front charge, arriving against the Germans with the cold steel just as they were turning to fly. They were big strong-looking chaps, very young, but they could not use the bayonet. As they over the parapet Private McMeechan says he saw Captain Brown still clutching his revolver, making away to the right presumably to give instructions, for the Seaforths were coming up there at the time. This was the last time Private McMeechan saw the Captain. He says he did not exactly know how he felt when they were making the charge. He had certainly at that time
NO SENSE OF FEAR.
They were getting it hot that, no doubt, each one them felt that their time was up and they went into the think it, determined at least to much damage to the enemy as they possibly could. He did not want to be laughed at by saying what he did personally in the way effectively using the bayonet, but owned that was true enough that he left his bayonet in one fellow, and produced a very fine pipe that he took off the man. The pipe is the type usually smoked the Germans, of large size, and breaks three bits. He is very proud of his trophy and justly so. When the Germans turned the Argylls did not follow, for the most of them were about half dead with the gas. Personally, had inhaled a great deal of gas, and could scarcely breathe, so when the charge was over, being able to walk he was told to go to the dressing station behind the firing line. On the way he
ENCOUNTERED GEORGE HARRISON
limping badly with a couple of wounds. Private McMeechan got his arm round him and helped him along to the dressing Staton, and there he met his colleague, Alexander Ure. who had got the four fingers of his right hand blown off, and a friend also discovered a bullet wounded in his shoulder, about which Alexander knew nothing till they began to cut the clothes off him. Private McMeechan was told at the dressing station go foot hospital on the other side of Ypres, and set-off through the town. He says he had passed big building when heard a
NOISE AS IF A TRAMCAR WAS COMING.
It was no tramcar, however. It was the hum a “Jack Johnson” which landed on the building and reduced it to heap of debris. As walked along felt very faint, and found that he must have rubbed violently against the barbed wire outside the trenches, for his thigh was badly scratched. Then the air was perfectly contaminated with gas for miles around, and he felt it even outside the town at Ypres. Ultimately was forced to sit down, and the next time came himself was Popperinghe. Had he got a sniff of ammonia for the gas, he might have managed to walk all the way to hospital. Private McMeechan, said the soldiers in the trenches were happy enough, and
SOME GRIM JOKES
were going the round when he arrived. The Germans send over into the trenches what the boys call polonies (sausages), but instead of containing meat they are filled with high explosives. They inflict no wounds these weapons, but they cause death by the dreadful concussion. On one occasion a German called over three chaps ” there’s a sausage, divide it among you.” It exploded sure enough, and killed the three of them. On another occasion a German made himself prominent on the trench head and called across to the British line that he was a barber, and had worked in such and such a street in Glasgow. He also stated that had a wife and three children in Berlin. Ah, well,” said one of the boys as his rifle cracked out, “you will now have a widow and three of family in Berlin.” Private Meechan is, a big strong looking lad for his age, and has no objection to going back again, but his mother may have something to say that point. Private McMeechan is very proud of what the General Officer commanding the 27th Division said regarding them, which was : —” The manner in which the officers and men stuck to their trenches, in face of a terrific bombardment, is the admiration of all. He was proud to command a division which included such a stone-wall brigade.”
Daniel McMeechan has a page on the IWM "Lives of the First World War" with the image submitted by his Grand Daughter "Samantha" - Please get in touch with the form at the bottom of the page.
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