CAPT W SPEIRS BARR 18TH H.L.I.
Captain William Speirs Barr
18th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry
died of wounds 23rd May 1917
Fins New British Cemetery, Sorel-le-Grand
St Machar's Church Memorial
Glasgow Academy Memorial
Son of James Barr and Mary Train
Rockcliff, Bridge of Weir
Husband of Isobel Florence Gilmour, Glencloy, Bridge of Weir
Brothers Fred, Lyle and Speirs Barr were all killed in World War I. They were sons of James Barr, founder of the successful Glasgow business of James Barr and Son, Chartered Surveyors.
William Speirs Barr was born on 27th May 1894 in Rockcliffe, Bridge of Weir, the fifth and youngest son of James Barr from Glasgow and Mary Train from Ardrossan, Ayrshire who had married in Greenock on 30th April 1879.
In 1881, James (36), a civil engineer, and Mary (29) were living in Partick, Glasgow with their first child, Mary W, domestic servant Catherine Bankier, and nurse Jane Quintell.
In 1891, the Barr family of eight was living in 53 Hamilton Drive, Kelvinside. James senior was a Civil Engineering Surveyor and Valuator running his own business. Murdina Morrison was the domestic servant and Jessie Smith, nurse.
In 1901, the family, now ten, was still in Hamilton Drive. They had two servants, Jane McLeod and Elizabeth Allan.
Fred, Lyle and Speirs Barr all attended Glasgow Academy.
By 1911 the family had moved to Rockcliff in Kilbarchan Road, Bridge of Weir. James senior had died on 28th July 1910, and the oldest son James, a valuator, was now head of the household. Fred was a marine engineer, Robert was an apprentice measurer's valuator and Speirs (16) was an apprentice to an iron and steel merchant. Mary, Janet and Lyle were no longer in the family home. A female student named Dunn from Earlston, Berwickshire, was visiting. Effie Nicolson was the cook, and Bessie McNeil the domestic servant.
Speirs was an iron broker when war broke out and a private in the Territorial HLI. He was mobilised immediately into the 9th Battalion and entered the theatre of war in France on 5th November 1914. He received his commission on 7th April 1915 with the 18th Battalion (4th Glasgow). Initially a "bantam" battalion, it was formed from men under the regulation height of 5ft 3in. They quickly acquired a reputation for brawling and indiscipline and were nicknamed "The Devil Dwarfs". They, and other bantam battalions, were formed into the 106th Brigade of the 35th Division. It crossed the channel in January 1916 and fought on the Somme. The division lost its bantam status at the end of 1916 when the commanding officer complained that the condition of volunteers was deteriorating from tough, pugnacious "little-uns" that had earned the bantams' fighting reputation, to what were now simply under-developed or sickly specimens from the towns.
On 23rd September 1916 Speirs married Isobel Florence Gilmour, daughter of William Dickson Gilmour, coal master, and Janet McIndoe, at Glencloy, Montrose Terrace, Bridge of Weir.
He was promoted to Captain and in March and early April 1917 the 35th Division was engaged in pursuing the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line. William became a casualty and finally died of wounds on 23rd May 1917. He was buried in Sorel-le-Grand, between Cambrai and Peronne, a location consistent with that campaign. He was the third of the three brothers to fall.
Their mother Mary Train Barr was very involved in raising money for the war effort. She died at Rockcliff on 6th September 1918 aged 66. She didn't live to see the war end.
|1881 Census||1891 Census||1901 Census||1911 Census||Birthplace|
|Mary W||1||Mary W||11||Mary W||21||Glasgow, Lanark|
|Janet S||9||Janet S||19||Glasgow, Lanark|
|Ethel D||8||Ethel D||18||Ethel D||28||Glasgow, Lanark|
|Frederic T||2||Frederic T||12||Fred T||22||Glasgow, Lanark|
|John L||1||John L||11||Glasgow, Lanark|
|Robt I||9||Robt I||19||Glasgow, Lanark|
|Wm S||6||Wm S||16||Bridge of Weir|
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- Scottish National War Memorial
- William Speirs Barr birth certificate. 27th May 1894. Regd. Kilbarchan, Renfrew 18th June 1894
- 1881 UK Census: Parish: Partick; ED: 33; Page: 52; Line: 6; Roll: cssct1881_258.
- 1891 UK Census: Parish: Govan; ED: 43; Page: 58; Line: 9; Roll: CSSCT1891_308.
- 1901 UK Census: Parish: Govan; ED: 10; Page: 18; Line: 3; Roll: CSSCT1901_331.
- 1911 UK Census: Parish: Kilbarchan; Ward: Bridge of Weir. Page 1. Lines 21-29. 559/0B 004/ 00 001.
- London Gazette:
o 7 June 1915, Supplement: Issue 29185; page 5496: The Highland Light Infantry, 18th Battalion (4th Glasgow) - The undermentioned to be temporary Second Lieutenants:-William Speirs Barr. Dated 7th April 1915, but not to carry pay or allowances prior to 19th May, 1915
- War Diaries: 18th Highland Light Infantry. WO-95-2490-2. National Archives.
- 10 March 1916: Operation Orders, No. 5. The Battn. will take over the Right Brigade Sector of the Line tomorrow night from 17th R. Scots.
....(g) Snipers under Lt. Barr will proceed in the afternoon to take over their posts. These men will be rationed and accommodated with their Company, but will be at the disposal of Sniping Officer. They are not on any account to be used for night work.
- 1 February 1917: Operation Orders No. 50.
1. The Battalion will move to-morrow, to billets at MAZIERES, via WANQUETIN, & AVESNES, halting for the night of 2nd.-3rd., at WANQUETIN.
2. Companies will parade in their various billets at 9.15 a.m. under Capt. Barr, and will move off, via RUE D'AMIENS & DAINVILLE, as follows:-....
...6. The Battalion will leave WANQUETIN at 9 a.m. on 3rd. under orders to be issued by Capt. Barr.
- SOREL-LE-GRAND. 22 May 1917:Weather very wet. Preparations to proceed to line carried out. Advanced party proceeded to line at night.
- 23 May 1917. Weather good. Battalion resting during morning. Moved to line at VILLERS-GUISLAN sector at 8 p.m. relieving 12th SUFFOLKS, 121st Brigade, 40th Division. Relief complete without incident by 12.55.p.m. Casualties. 1 Officer killed [typed in but then obscured by overtyping with a series of 'X's]. 1 O.R. Wounded. Slightly.
- VILLERS-GUISLAN. 24 May 1917: Weather very warm. Battalion holding Right of Division, with Cavalry on our Right. (17th Lancers). On the left, 17th W. YORKS. R. of 106th Bde. Battalion engaged in working (improving trenches) and wiring. Strong patrols were sent out during the night. The front line is held by a system of posts, 18 in all. There is a continuous line, but it is in an unfinished state and lateral communication is difficult in daylight. 1 Coy. is in Support & 1 in Reserve.
- 25 May 1917: Weather Good. Work on, & improvement of wire, of front line, special attention being paid to drainage. The attitude of the enemy in this sector is quiet with little artillery fire. At night there is considerable M.G. & Rifle fire. 1 officer fatally wounded and 1 O.R. slightly wounded.
- Paisley and Renfrewshire Gazette
- 19th September 1914: Roll of Honour: William S Barr, Rockcliff, Bridge of Weir 9th HLI.
- 2nd June 1917: A FAMILY'S SACRIFICE - THREE BROTHERS KILLED: Captain William Speirs Barr, who has died of wounds, was the fifth son of the late Mr. James Barr C.E., Rockcliff, Bridge of Weir. He was educated at Glasgow Academy, and followed the business of ironbroker. A private in the H.L.I. when war broke out, he was immediately mobilised, and went to France in November, 1914, where he had been continuously except for a brief spell in 1915, when home for his commission. In October last he married Isobel Florence, daughter of Mr. William D. Gilmour, Glencloy, Bridge of Weir. Captain Barr is the third son of the family to make the supreme sacrifice. His brother, Mr. F.T. Barr, also of the Glasgow Highlanders, was killed at Cuinchy in February, 1915, and his other brother, Mr J. L. Barr, died of wounds received at the Somme last July. Another brother is at present on service in France. Captain Barr was within a few days of his 23rd birthday when he met his death.
- St Machar's Church of Scotland Death and Interment Register:
o Barr, John Lyle; 2nd Lieut. R.F.A.; Rockcliff; Died of wounds 26 July 1916; Buried Abbeville, France; aged 26.
- Kilbarchan Cemetery Monumental Inscription:
- Sacred to the memory of JAMES BARR who died at Rockcliff Bridge of Weir 28th July 1910 in his 67th year and his wife MARY TRAIN who died at Rockcliff Bridge of Weir 6th Sept. 1918 in her 67th year
and his sons Private FREDERIC TRAIN BARR C. Company Glasgow Highlanders killed in action in France 25th February 1915 in his 27th year. 2nd Lieutenant JOHN LYLE BARR 159th Brigade Royal Field Artillery died of wounds at Abbeville France 26th July 1916 in his 27th year.
Capt. WILLIAM SPEIRS BARR 18th Highland Light Infantry died of wounds at Sorel-le-Grand France 23rd May 1917 in his 23rd year.
- In loving memory of WILLIAM D. GILMOUR, Glencloy, Bridge of Weir who died 29th October 1930 aged 65 years also of his daughter ISOBEL FLORENCE who died 15th March 1939 widow of Capt.W. Speirs Barr, H.L.I., and of his widow JANET McINDOE who died 17th Dec. 1940.
- Glasgow Academy Roll of Honour, Jackson, Wylie & Co., Glasgow 1933 o BARR, William Speirs: - : Captain: 9th (G.H.) Battn. Highland Light Infantry: Died of Wounds, 23rd May, 1917: France, 1914-1917.
- Image Source: Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette.
- Medals: Victory, British War, 1914 Star.
TO CITE THIS PAGE: MLA style: "Bridge of Weir Memorial". Date of viewing. http://www.bridgeofweirmemorial.co.uk/profile-barrspeirs.html