Private Robert Forsyth – 1st Gordon Highlanders

Private Robert Forsyth, service number 817, enlisted in the 1st Gordon Highlanders at New Maud, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Robert Forsyth was born on the 3rd of February 1895 at Aberdour, Aberdeenshire, Scotland to John Gill Forsyth and Jane nee Birnie.
He was the younger brother of  George Forsyth who also died in WW1.

Photo of Robert’s memorial card courtesy of Gael Thomas in New Zealand from her mother’s collection.

Gael’s mother Inez evelyn Florence Butcher was Robert’s niece.

Printed and published by Wm. Duncan, 19 High St., Kirkcaldy (only address).  No.5. Reg.D (on the back.).

Thankyou Gael x

Both Robert and George are commemorated on the War Memorial at Rathen.

Photo from
Photo from
Robert was killed in action on the 20th of November, 1914 at Flanders, most probably the infamous first battle of Ypres where the British were outnumbered by seven to one.
A note from Robert’s cousin Patrick Forsyth who lives in Fraserburgh gives headstone inscription “from the Kirkyard of Aberdour, Fam/Hist/Soc….number 262…..Erected by JANE BIRNIE in loving memory of her husband JOHN FORSYTH Hillfoot,Cortes,Lonmay,22 sept 1927 aged 66.Their family John d.1 July 1889 aged 17 mths……Jessie d.3rd July 1896 aged 13…Isabella d. 6 may 1899 aged 11 mnths……ROBERT d.of wounds France 20 Nov.1914 aged 19…..GEORGE killed in action in France 9 Aug.1916 aged 26……Jean died in New Zealand 24 Oct 1928…….Edward d. Canada 20 Oct.1935…..The above JANE BIRNIE d.8 Sept.1946”
I don’t know if his war service records exist as in 1940 there was a World War Two bombing raid on the War Office in London where the records were held. During this raid, a large portion (approximately 60 per cent) of the 6.5 million records was destroyed by fire. The surviving service records have become known as the ‘Burnt Documents’.

On the 4th August when the Germans struck through Belgium the shock had to be met at the fields of Flanders and France and within a few days the `contemptible little army` as the Kaiser called it had been thrown across the channel and by the 22nd of the month had reached Mons. The 1st Battalion as part of the 8th Brigade in the 3rd Division helped to line the Conde-Mons canal near Nimy Bridge and it was here on the morning of the following day that the brunt of the German onslaught fell and two days later, after the longest march of the retreat, they made their famous stand at Le Cateau. At last after 8 days of retreat and with only one company left they reached a line behind the river Marne and it was from here that General Joffre struck at the German flank and turned the tide of invasion away from Paris.

By late November 1914 the old British army had virtually disappeared.

Robert Forsyth’s medal card

is where Robert Forsyth is buried.

Tribute page for our Servicemen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: