Andrew Aitken likeness

Andrew Aitken cap badgePrivate Andrew Aitken

16th (Service) Battalion (2nd Glasgow) Highland Light Infantry
Service No: 14989

Andrew Aitken grave

4468

3

4

4

36
Personal details

Family Information

Son of Andrew (29/01/1857-13/02/1923) and Mary Leishman Aitken (30/10/1856-21/12/1943) of 66 North Square, Gartsherrie, Coatbridge. Andrew had 5 brothers also serving with the colours. James (Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders), Robert (Army Service Corps), Alexander (King's Own Royal Rifles), David (Royal Engineers), John (Royal Engineers). Andrew's elder brother Lance Corporal James Aitken of the 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders was Killed in Action on the 25/09/1915. The 1901 Census - Address - 174 and 175 North Square, Coatbridge - Mary Aitken aged 44, James Aitken aged 22, Robert Aitken aged 20 (1881-03/02/1940), John Aitken aged 16, Catherine (Katie) Aitken aged 14, Andrew Aitken aged 12, Mary Aitken aged 10, David Aitken aged 8 ( /02/1893-14/01/1922). Andrew's Pension was awarded to his sister Miss Mary Leishman Aitken on the 12/12/1916.

Born / Resided

Old Monkland, Coatbridge / 66 North Square, Coatbridge

Died

Killed in Action on the 01/07/1916 at the Battle of Albert (opening phase of the Battles of the Somme)

Enlisted

Baird Town Hall, Coatbridge 03/09/1914

Employed

Joiner with the Gartsherrie Ironworks.

Age

27

Buried / Remembered

Serre Road Cemetery No.1 (V.G.11), Pas de Calais, France.

Cemetery / Memorial Information

There are 2,426 casualties of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 1,728 of the graves are unidentified but special memorials commemorate 10 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate 3 men who were buried in Albert German Cemetery, 7 men who were buried in Beaucourt British Cemetery and 2 men who were buried in Puisieux Churchyard, whose graves were destroyed by shell fire. Most of the graves date from 1916.

Additional Information

Andrew's father received a letter from King George V thanking him for the family's contribution to the war. All brothers were members of the local swimming club and Andrew's Great Niece Lesley Aitken was a pupil at Coatbridge High School in the 1980's. His mother Mary was a native of Condorrat, North Lanarkshire. The Battalion was often known by its original title of the Glasgow Boys Brigade Battalion. Andrew and the Battalion were part of the 97th Brigade, 32nd Division and arrived in Boulogne on the 23/11/1915. Andrew was Killed in Action on the opening day of the Battle of Albert, 1st – 13th July 1916 : In this opening phase, the French and British assault broke into and gradually moved beyond the first of the German defensive systems. For the British, the attack on the 1st July proved to be the worst day in the nation’s military history in terms of casualties sustained. It is the aspect of the battle that is most remembered and most written about, and for good reason – but to concentrate on the failures is to entirely miss the point of the Somme and why the battle developed into an epic period of the Great War. On the first day, British forces at the southern end of the British line made an impressive advance alongside the French Sixth Army, capturing the villages of Montauban and Mametz and breaking through the enemy’s defensive system. North of Mametz the attack was an almost unmitigated failure. The situation led to a redirection of effort, with the offensive north of the River Ancre effectively being closed down and all future focus being on the line south of Thiepval. There was a stiff fight for Trones Wood and costly, hastily planned and piecemeal attacks that eventually took La Boisselle, Contalmaison and Mametz Wood during the rest of the period up to the 13th July. This was part of the Battles of the Somme, 1st July – 18th November 1916 : A Franco-British offensive that was undertaken after Allied strategic conferences in late 1915, but which changed its nature due to the German attack against the French in the epic Battle of Verdun, which lasted from late February to November. Huge British losses on the first day and a series of fiercely contested steps that became attritional in nature. For all armies on the Western Front it was becoming what the Germans would call “materialschlacht”: a war not of morale, will or even manpower, but of sheer industrial material might. The 15th September 1916 saw the first-ever use of tanks in the step known as the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. The British army in France is now approaching its maximum strength in numbers but is still developing in terms of tactics, technology, command and control. Andrew was 1 of 15 Memorial men to fall on this day. SEE PHOTOS x 8 FOR THE BATTALION WAR DIARY FROM JUNE TO EARLY JULY 1916. According to the War Diary the casualties for the 1st July were 20 Officers and 534 Other Ranks. See Directory for Andrew's brother James' page. A huge thanks to Scott Fisher and his young son Archie who sent me pictures from their visit to Scott's Great Great Uncles Andrew and his brother James' graves on the 01/08/2020 (see photos x 2 and see James' page). They collected soil from both their relatives graves and will be returning it to the Family Plot in Old Monkland Cemetery. Andrew is also remembered on the Coats Parish Church, the Gartsherrie Works, in the St Augustine's Parish (book) and Coatbridge Technical Colleges Rolls of Honour (see photos). See photos for Andrew's Medal Index Card, Newspaper clippings for Andrew x 3, the Family Plot in Old Monkland Cemetery x 2, Andrew and 3 brothers, Andrew's parents' Marriage Certificate, Serre Road Cemetery No.1 x 2, the Highland Light Infantry Cap Badge, Andrew's Pension Records x 2, his Service Medal and Awards Rolls x 2, his brother Robert's Service Record x 5, Andrew's CWGC Grave Registration x 2, his Headstone Report x 2 and his Reburial Form. Andrew's Grave Inscription reads "HE LIVETH IN OUR HEARTS". If you would like to see the Battalion's history this book is the History of the 17th (Service) Battalion (same record as the 16th) - here . Another photo of the plaque remembering Andrew in the Gartsherrie Bowling Club, Coatbridge kindly donated by my friend Davie Johnstone and another Grave photo kindly donated by Mick McCann at britishwargraves.co.uk. Finally more photos of my visit to Andrew's grave in July 2023 (Poppy Cross laid, Serre Road Cemetery No. 1 x 2 and Andrew's Headstone x 3).

Photos
Andrew Aitken Medal Index CardAndrew Aitken newspaper clippingAndrew Aitken newspaper clippingAndrew Aitken newspaper clippingAndrew Aitken remembered at homeAndrew Aitken remembered at homeAndrew Aitken remembered at homeAndrew Aitken remembered at homeAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photoAndrew Aitken additional photo

War Diaries

The battalion War Diary is available on the National Archives website.

Creative Commons License

We have made this information and the images available under a Creative Commons BY-NC license. This means you may reuse it for non-commercial purposes only and must attribute it to us using the following statement: © coatbridgeandthegreatwar.com

Comments
Andrew Aitken was my Great Uncle, my grandmother, Catherine (Katie) was his sister. I never knew my grandmother as she died when my mother was 21.I do remember aunt Mary Aitken. I remember being told that the Aitken brothers were great swimmers and swam in Gartsherrie swimming baths.on one occasion one of the brothers was about to go on holiday,dressed in his best suit,when someone got in to difficulties in the pool and the brother,not sure which one,was sent for to come to the rescue. Interested to see comments from Carole and Scott Fisher, my cousin Netta's family
Irene McMillan, Dundonald, Ayrshire, 26/10/2022 12:52PM
My Own Dad's name was Walter Mitchell Aitken, We used to reside in 4 Wilton street Townhead Coatbridge my Dad worked for Gartsherrie Iron Work, Dad's Sister name was Annie Aitken Brother Andrew that's all i can recall my Dad married Angnes Blair Forsyth Peat. I still stay in Westgeorge Street Coatbridge if you's would like to get in touch. Yours Respectively Mr James Peat Aitken.
James Peat Aitken , Coatbridge , 23/04/2022 7:57PM
Thank you for this information. This gentleman is my GG uncle. I have memories of my grandmother speaking about her uncle “Andre” as he was known. She never knew him as she was born in 1926 but her mum Catherine (Katie) Aitken was his sister, so she must have spoke about him fondly. My grandmother was named after her mum Katie (Catherine Aitken - Aitken was her middle name) and I have named my daughter after her (Catherine Aitken - Aitken being her middle name also), so we have the Aitken name living on in our family. My daughter was born on 1st July 1999. When my brother Scott heard of her birth he said “ The 1st of July morn, a special day, I won’t forget her birthday!!” I did not know Andrew Aitken had died on 1st July until many years later when our family did a research of our own. I’m proud of this gentleman for giving up his freedom and his life for King and country. Lest We Forget.
Carol Frew , Cairo (from Coatbridge), 06/11/2021 8:27PM
This is one of my great great uncles who fell at the Somme and who came from Gartsherrie, Coatbridge. My son and I visited the grave on 1st Aug 2020 to pay our respects. Very humble experience , the grave is in a lovely position and beautifully looked after. Thanks for the general information on this site, this has helped us learn more about our family's history and has been most helpful. LWF Scott Fisher
Scott Fisher, Kent, 02/08/2020 3:53PM

Do you have any information about or memories of Private Andrew Aitken that you would like to share?

Or even if you would just like to leave a message to say you've been here, please leave a comment below.

*Please note that all comments are verified by a moderator before appearing on the site. All fields are required except links to photos.