Ancre

Ancre

The Battle of Ancre from 13 to 18 November 1916 was the final phase in the sequence of battles collectively known as the Battle of the Somme that began on 1 July. The Ancre action was only partially successful and left the British with an exposed salient. The 51st Highland Division, containing the Shetland Territorials, distinguished itself at Beaumont Hamel on the first day. Casualties were significant.

There had been casualties before, but Ancre was where the small Shetland contingent of Gordon Highlanders were expended. In all 21 Shetlanders were killed, 15 of them Gordons. 22 were wounded. The Shetland unit recruited disproportionately from Lerwick and the impact of the loss fell mainly on the town. Twelve of the dead men came from that small burgh of less than 5,000 people. On a small scale it compared with the disasters that befell the "pals" battalions raised elsewhere.

The Shetland News commemorated the men with a printed photographic feature. Not only did it mark grief and loss, but the end of a certain kind of war for the islands. It was no longer possible for a body of Shetland soldiers go to abroad and fight as a unit. The remaining Shetland soldiers were absorbed into other parts of the 1st/7th and 4th Battalions, Gordon Highlanders.

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ST2Dec1916 Editorial Ancre
Shetland Times editorial, 2 December 1916.