top of page

William McIntosh was born in 1897 Tongue, the fourth son of Hector McIntosh,Dalcharn and Johan Mackay. They were married in Wick in 1890. In the 1911 Census he is at home in Dalcharn with his parents and brothers Peter, Donald, Robert ,John, and sisters Annie, Barbara and Catherine Johan. He enlisted in to the Territorial Army at 17 years of age and immediately volunteered for active service at the front, he was held back by his parents as he was underage.

In early 1917 at the age of 19 he again volunteered for the front in France and was soon in the thick of the fighting serving in the 5 (Caithness and Sutherland) Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders. The 5 Battalion had been in France since the 12 of May 1915 serving with the 152 Brigade, 51 (Highland) Division.

In April 1917 the 51 (Highland) Division was west of Arras training for the forthcoming attack on the Hindenburg Line. The 5 Seaforths were stationed in the village of Acq below Vimy Ridge practising bombing routines, signalling and briefing streacher bearers.

On the 7 of April 1917 the 5 Seaforths moved to billets in some huts close to the village of Maroeuil, near Arras. After spending the night in the huts, the battalion had a church parade then spent the rest of the day preparing for the battle to come.

At 7:20pm on the 8 of April 1917, the 5 Battalion left Maroeuil for the front line trenches located close to the village of Anzin on the Arras to Bethune road. The battalion arrived in a field 500 yards east of Anzin at 9pm where bombs, Lewis Gun magazines, ammunition, hot soup and rum was issued. The battalion then marched to the assembly trenches at 11pm without incident, some delay did occur when the 6 Seaforth Highlanders were not clear of tunnels on time.

The 5 Battalion was in position by 3:50am, the enemy remained quiet during assembly, however one shell killed three other ranks and wounded one at the entrance to K36 tunnel.

At zero hour (5:30am), on the 9 of April 1917 the British attacked Germans around Arras, in attempt to break the Hindenburg Line and sweep through the enemy positions. The 5 Seaforths advanced from Spook Street trench and down the Roclincourt Valley, over the first and second German lines. The first wave was held up in front of the third line by machine gun fire for about three-quarters of an hour.

Heavy casualties occurred on the left flank, when an explosion took place 25 yards beyond the enemy third line and the attack was disorganised for half an hour. It was not known what had caused the explosion, but immediately afterwards six of the enemy advanced to surrender. Sergeant Ross believing they had blown up a mine and then came out to give themselves up, ordered his men to fire and the enemy soldiers were all killed.

Sergeant Ross and Sergeant Elder attacked a machine-gun post which was giving some trouble, they then both went on to capture two more enemy machine-guns and a headquarters. These two soldiers killed many German soldiers that day and the only enemy left alive in the trench they had attacked was a streacher-bearer and a wounded man found in a dug-out.

On the right flank, ‘A’ Company and ‘C’ Company took heavy casualties from shellfire, as they attacked from Crook Street trench into the German first line trench. Heavy machine-gun fire and snipers caused many casualties between the first and second line trench; ‘A’ Company lost ninety men in this area.

The enemy front line was captured by 3:15pm and the line consolidated by the Seaforths, a number of high ranking enemy officers were captured and sent to the rear as prisoners of war.

Private William McIntosh was killed in action on the 9 of April 1917, during The Battle of Arras, one of 52 other ranks killed in his battalion, a total of 9 officers and 236 other ranks were wounded. (See also George G Mackay and John George Mackay Skerray).

William had three brothers who all served in the First World War, Robert and Peter both served in the Seaforth Highlanders; John served in the Royal Garrison Artillery. The Germans captured Peter, but he managed to escape from the enemy by running away through a turnip field, he was shot as he escaped but managed to evade recapture and returned safely to British lines.

All three brothers returned to Tongue after the war, John left Tongue to become a policeman in Edinburgh, his brothers Robert and Peter lived at Blandy in Scullomie.

SCOTTISH NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL EDINBURGH CASTLE McIntosh William. (b) Tongue Sutherlandshire. 2401054. Private. Killed in action.F&F. 9-4-17. 1/5 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders.

COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSIONMcIntosh Private W. 240105. 1 /5 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders. 9of April 1917. Aged 19. Son of Hector and Johan McIntosh of Dalcharn Tongue, Sutherland. Plot 1. Row F. Grave 2.

Private William McIntosh 240105, 5 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders is buried in a war grave at ROCLINCOURT VALLEY CEMETERY, PAS DE CALAIS FRANCE.


51 (Highland) Division Memorial

Beaumont Hamel Somme France 

bottom of page