William George Gartly (b. Wrightstone, Glass, 1898 – d. France, 9th November, 1918)
Ross Gartly has told me that William or ‘Beely’ first enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders, in I think 1916, and I suppose it is in the uniform of that regiment that he appears in the above photograph taken by Kilgour, 57 Bogie Street, Huntly.
However, it appears that, at some stage, he transferred to the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders and this might account for the change in uniform in this photograph by Stewart of Alloa. Certainly, Beely was in the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders when he died of wounds, in France, on the 9th of November, 1918.
A letter from K Woods of 54, General Hospital, British Expeditionary Force, France, dated 10th December 1918 to ‘Miss Gartly’. Which Miss Gartly? I think it is most likely Lizzie but cannot be certain.
It explains the circumstances of Beely’s death and the text runs as follows,-
54 General Hospital
Dear Miss Gartly
In answer to your letter about your brother the cause of death as I expect you have already surmised was gas gangrene – I cannot tell you at all what day he was wounded but as soon as he was admitted to the C.Cs he had the operation for the thorough cleansing of the wound. then at the next dressing 36 hrs later the wound was found to have gas gangrene so the leg was amputated straight away above the knee. but alas it spread to the stump & he hadn’t the smallest chance against it
I should imagine that he had lain on the field some time before being brought in – but I cannot really say for certain as if you remember it was the time of a very real advance & we had a great many patients in – & again one does not encourage patients to talk about their distressing experiences
at any rate it was a very acute infection that he had & one that he couldn’t possibly have overcome.
He was quite conscious all the time but didn’t realize that he was so ill – He didn’t worry about having his leg off at all but was afraid his mother would worry about it, & about seeing his mother I dont think he ever doubted for a minute that he wouldn’t eventually be sent home. He was quite conspicuous amongst the others for his patience & bravery & I feel very sorry indeed for you great loss
A photo of Beely out of uniform, probably around 1917.
He is buried at Caudry military cemetery in France you can find further details by clicking here
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