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Appeal to trace relatives of Inverurie soldier

By David Porter

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A military historian and author is appealing for help in tracing the relatives of an Inverurie soldier who died in France in June 1940, while serving with the Gordon Highlanders.

Explaining Stewart Mitchell said: “I have been contacted by a Gendarme in France because I am the author of the book entitled, St Valery And Its Aftermath and am also a volunteer researcher with the Gordon Highlanders Museum, in Aberdeen.

“Next June is 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 B Reid from Inverurie.

“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 2000 of which were Gordon Highlanders and local to the north-east.”

Alexander was serving with the Gordon Highlanders as part of the 51st (Highland) Division.

He is one of only four Gordon Highlanders buried in Angiens Churchyard, Normandy and was killed in action on June 12, 1940.

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

Alexander B Reid pictured during service with the Gordon Highlanders.
Alexander B Reid pictured during service with the Gordon Highlanders.

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 at St Valery-en-Caux.

He continued: “I was contacted recently by Hervé Savary, who is a French Gendarmerie Major in Northern France.

“He asked for my assistance to contact the families of the four Gordon Highlanders who are buried in Angiens Churchyard, near where he lives.

“Major Savary has organised many commemoration events in the past grew up in the Somme area of France and has had a lifelong interest in the 51st (Highland) Division.

“His family had a café which British soldiers would frequent and who often left their cap badges or Glengarry bonnets as souvenirs.

“He wanted to arrange a special commemoration for Alexander Reid and his comrades in June next year, for the 80th anniversary of his death.

“For this he would like any members of Alexander’s family to attend.

“After some research into the background of Alexander Burr Reid, I found that he enlisted into the Gordon Highlanders around November 1939 and was just 22 years old when he died.

“Hs parents were Alexander B Reid and Annie Reid who lived at 30A High Street, Inverurie.

Alexander Reid Junior was reported to have been well known in Inverurie taking a prominent part on local youth work as a Scoutmaster and a teacher at Burnhervie Sunday School and was also a member of Inverurie West Church Choir.

Prior to joining the army he worked for the Northern Co-operative Society.

Alexander’s story is doubly sad in that after being posted missing in June 1940 it was four years later before his parents had his death confirmed and they had probably hoped for better news for all that time.

You can contact gordonstvalerypows@hotmail.com or on 07484 262365

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