WILLIAM SCOTT (1890-1917)

21806 Private William Scott, 20th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry was killed in action 31 July 1917 and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.[1]  He was 27 years old, married and is commemorated on the West Auckland War Memorial and the Roll of Honour, West Auckland Memorial Hall.

Family Details

William Scott was born 1890 [2] the son of William and Jane Scott.  There were 4 children both born at West Auckland:[3]

  • Mary Jane bc. 1889
  • William born 1890
  • Hannah bc.1892
  • Meggie bc.1894

In 1891, the family lived at Gladstone Street, West Auckland where 22 year old William was employed as a coal miner.[4]  Jane died 1894 aged 26.[5]  In 1897 William married Martha and they had 1 child, Beatrice bc.1897 at West Auckland.  In 1901 the family lived at Batey’s Yard, West Auckland and 33 year old William was a coal miner (hewer).[6]  In 1911 the family lived at 10 Johnson Terrace, West Auckland.  William still worked as a coal miner (hewer) and 21 year old son William was a coal miner (putter).[7] 12 April 1911 William married Elizabeth Collinson and they has 2 children Walter born 17 March 1914 and Joseph William born 19 August 1917.[8]  When William attested in July 1915, his address was given as 28 Church Row, Burnhope.[9]  Elizabeth was pregnant when William was killed.  In August 1919 Elizabeth lived at 40 Albion Street, Witton Park.[10]  At a later date Elizabeth remarried.[11]

Service Details

1 February 1915 William Scott attested at Barnard Castle when 25 years old and was given the regimental number 21806.[12] He was 5” 3’ tall and weighed 124 lbs.[13]  He was posted to the 17th Battalion then transferred to the 14th 6 September 1915.  Private W. Scott entered France 11 September 1915.[14]

The 14th (Service) Battalion was initially attached to the 64th Brigade, 23rd Division but on 25th November 1915 it was transferred to the 18th Brigade, 6th Division as part of the XIV Corps, Fourth Army. [15]By 1916, other battalions in the 18th Brigade were:

  • 1/West Yorkshires
  • 11/Essex
  • 2/DLI
  • 18th Brigade Machine Gun Company
  • 18th Trench Mortar Battery

Having been in France for only a few days, lengthy forced marches brought the Division into the Reserve for the British assault at Loos.  The Division was sent into action 25 September 1915, whereupon it suffered appalling casualties for little gain.  The 14/DLI lost Lieut.-Col. A.S. Hamilton who died of wounds received near Bois Hugo and 2 other officers were killed, losses in the ranks amounted to 277 in this action.  Later research records 14/DLI lost 4 Officers and 54 Other Ranks killed in action or died of wounds between 25 September and 10 October 1915. [16]

The 6th Division was involved in the trench warfare in the Ypres Salient. Private W. Scott spent some time, 2 weeks at Etaples with influenza and re-joined the battalion in the field 25 August 1916.[17]  14/DLI saw action at the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, the Battle of Morval and the Battle of Le Transloy.[18]  23 September 1916, Private W. Scott suffered a gun-shot wound to the back and spent 87 days in hospital, 23 September – 19 December 1916 in the UK. [19]  It is likely that his wound was inflicted during action at Flers-Courclette.

He returned to France 22 April 1917[20] being posted to 13th Battalion 27 April 1917 then 20th Battalion 10 May 1917.[21]  The 20th (Service) Battalion (Wearside), the Durham Light Infantry (20/DLI) was formed in Sunderland 10 July 1915 and came under the orders of 123rd Brigade, 41st Division.  It landed in France 5 May 1916 and served on the Western front until November 1917 when it moved with the Division to Italy.[22]  Units in the 123rd Brigade were:

  • 11th, the Queens
  • 10th, the Royal West Kent Regiment (Kent County)
  • 23rd, the Middlesex Regiment (2nd Football)
  • 20th, DLI
  • 123rd Machine Gun Company joined June 1918 moved to 41st MGC March 1918
  • 123rd Trench Mortar Battery joined June 1916

20/DLI as part of the 41st Division was with the X Corps Second Army.[23]

Private W. Scott was with 20/DLI and saw action at the Battle of Messines 7 – 14 June 1917.  20/DLI spent the first 3 weeks of July at Mont des Cats when over 250 men were absorbed from drafts.  Training for the attack which would signal the beginning of the Third Battle of Ypres, 20/DLI was based at Kenora Camp near Westoutre.

The Third Battle of Ypres: 31 July – 10 November 1917

The offensive had been postponed and it was not until 3.50am 31 July that 20/DLI went forward.  The War Diary reports that en-route to the assembly line, casualties were sustained by an enemy barrage, 1 OR killed and 15 ORs wounded including 1 gassed.  The battalion formed up in the vicinity of Klein Zillebeke road and the assault was to be made upon the enemy front line known as Imperfect Trench [the Red Line].  The Red Line was to be the line of resistance, the Green Line was to be 400 yards further on and the Blue Line was to be the Support Line.  The front line was successfully taken in face of heavy artillery shell and machine gun fire from concealed positions which our artillery had not destroyed.  20/DLI advanced to the Blue Line and slightly in front of it but could get no further.  In the afternoon, the enemy counter-attacked on the left of the line.  The whole area – the assembly area, No-Man’s Land, the captured ground and Fusilier Wood was under heavy and continuous barrages of howitzer and field gun fire, while No-Man’s Land and the captured ground were enfiladed by machine gun fire.  The War Diary reports that:

“artillery fire, together with rifle and Lewis Gun fire from the Blue Line and from a Vickers Gun which had succeeded in setting up to our left flank forward positions, smashed up the counter attack…

Casualties: Officers 3 killed, 5 wounded, 1 Missing believed killed   OR 18 killed, 153 wounded, 73 missing.” [24]

20/DLI was relieved on the night of 1 August.  Later research records that between 31 July and 2 August, 20/DLI lost 6 Officers and 57 Other Ranks killed in action or died of wounds, 4 Officers and 55 Other Ranks on 31 July 1917.[25]

Private W. Scott was one of the casualties, being killed in action 31 July 1917, the opening day of the Third Battle of Ypres. [26]  He served a total of 2 years 181 days, being wounded during action at the Battle of the Somme. [27]  He was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War and Victory medals. [28]


Private W. Scott has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.  The Menin Gate is one of 4 memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient which stretched from Langemarck in the north to Ploegsteert Wood in the south.  The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields.  It commemorates those of all Commonwealth nations (except New Zealand) who died in the Ypres Salient and in the case of British casualties, before 16 August 1917. The memorial was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield and was unveiled in July 1927 by Lord Plummer.  The Ypres Menin Gate Memorial bears the names of 54,344 officers and men whose graves are not known. [29]

Private W. Scott is commemorated on the West Auckland War Memorial and the Roll of Honour, West Auckland Memorial Hall.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales 1837-1915 Birth Index Vol.10a p.244 Auckland 1890 Q1

[3] 1891 & 1901 census

[4] 1891 census

[5] England & Wales 1837-1915 Death Index Vol.10a p.15 Auckland 1894 Q1

[6] 1901 census

[7] 1911 census

[8] Descriptive Report on Enlistment

[9] Army Form B.2505

[10] Army Form W.5080

[11] CWGC Note: her married surname is recorded as Gill but possibly it was Hill (Marriage Index 1923 Q2 Vol.10p.424)

[12] Army Form B.2505

[13] Army Form B.178

[14] Medal Roll card index


[16] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[17] Army Form B.103 Casualty Form-Active Service


[19] Table II

[20] Military History Sheet

[21] Army Form B.200



[24] 20/DLI War Diary

[25] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[26] Army Form B.200

[27] Statement of the Services

[28] Medal Roll card index

[29] Commonwealth War Graves Commission


Menin Gate

Menin Gate

SCOTT W. Inscription Menin Gate

Menin Gate

SCOTT W. Medal Roll

Medal Roll