Lieutenant Gavin Paul

Lieutenant Gavin Paul

An early West Lothian casualty of the war was the son of one of the major coalmasters in the county, Gavin Paul (junior). Gavin Paul and Sons Ltd operated coal mines in the Bathgate area – Boghead, Mosside and Riddochhill. Paulville (now the site of Bathgate Health Centre) was a hamlet of miners’ rows built in 1899 for Gavin Paul’s workforce. Perhaps because of the death of the male heir, the firm of Gavin Paul and Sons was sold to Baird and Co. in 1922. The miners’ rows at Paulville were demolished in 1958.

On 13 November 1914, the West Lothian Courier reported:

How he bravely faced death

Mrs Paul, Edinburgh, mother of Lieutenant Gavin Paul, Queen’s Bays, 2nd Dragoon Guards, has received a letter giving details of her son’s brave death which took place at the Front in Belgium on 31st October [1914].

The officer who wrote the letters says: – "I am writing to tell you the details of your son’s brave death, as I feel you would like to hear. He died most gallantly, and no one could have done more than he did. I am the Officer commanding his squadron, and we were holding a position against a very strong German attack. Your son’s troop was in reserve, when I received orders to send a troop to reinforce another squadron of ours who were being hard pressed, and your son’s troop had to go.

A very hot fire poured in upon them, and your son, I am informed, was most conspicuous in encouraging his men and directing their fire, thereby doing much to assist the squadron.

There was little or no cover, and therefore many casualties, as the enemy were directing a machine gun fire at this point. One of these bullets killed your son instantaneously. He was shot through the head.

The Major commanding the squadron to which your son’s troop was sent...  informed me afterwards that your son’s behaviour throughout was most brave and exemplary, and further he mentioned him and his coolness and gallantry under a heavy fire, in his report.

Please accept my deepest sympathy over your great loss, and I assure you the whole regiment feels they have lost a fine fellow and a most promising officer.

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Young man
Lieutenant Gavin Paul. West Lothian Courier, 23 November 1914.