Moray soldier is remembered 100 years after leaving for war

John Gault (left) - left a message at Peterborough Station on his way to the front
John Gault (left) – left a message at Peterborough Station on his way to the front

A RELATIVE OF one of the Moray soldiers who was the subject of an appeal from historians in Peterborough has unearthed more information on his Word War I record.

When insideMoray published an appeal for information on two Moray soldiers who passed through Peterborough Station in 1916 and left messages in a visitor book, sketchy details on the possible identities of the pair were uncovered.

Researchers in the English town have set up a special website commemorating the books signed by soldiers as they passed through on their way to the front – and sought information on each name that appeared.  One was identified by Moray-based writer and historian Jill Stewart, who identified Private John Gault as one of the soldiers.

Now Moray woman Sheila Forbes has carried out some further research after reading about John appearing in the book, who was her Great Uncle.

Sheila picked up the story: “Private John Gault, of 2/6 (Morayshire) Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, was the oldest son of James and Janet (Jessie) Gault, who lived at 1 King Street in Lossiemouth.

“He was one of six children, born 31 August 1892 in Lossiemouth and he joined up in Elgin on 15 September 1914, his occupation given as a Marine Engineer. John served in France but according to his medal roll index he did not receive the Star so that meant he did not go to France until after 1916.

“He died in the Military Hospital, Rippon, on 17 May 1918. It is understood he died of meningitis, but I have been unable to confirm this.

“The Seaforth Highlanders war diary for the week of 13 April 1918 started off by saying that there had been 15 killed in action, 119 wounded and 111 missing. I think they were taking part in the Battle of the Lys at the time, but my very limited research may be way off.

“The Battalion seemed to do a lot of marching between places from that date till 12 May. The Adjutant described daily conditions and always gave a weather update – the weather from 5th to 12th May (the week before John died) was described as Cold and Wet.

“John is buried in Lossiemouth cemetery alongside his brother James, who died of his wounds in Haslar Hospital, aged 18 years, on 1st July 1918. His mother, father and sister, Helen, my great Aunt, are also buried with him.

“My Granny was Mary Jane Gault, his other sister, and she is buried in the next row facing the family headstone.”

The information has now been passed to the team in Peterborough to aid in their records for the men who signed the visitors book.