Topic: Colin McDonald

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A soldier of the Great War killed in action during the Somme battles.

Private Colin McDonald – 11704

Colin was born 22 September 1890 at Lincoln, fifth son of Daniel and Mary Jane McDonald. He was educated at Lincoln School. Before enlisting he was a groom and ploughman for many years at Tai Tapu for W. R. Rainey. He was given a farewell and presented with an inscribed gold medal at a social in April 1916. He was 5 foot 10 ½ inches tall with a clear complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair. He also had two small moles on the front of his left shoulder.                                                    

Colin enlisted on 12 January 1916 at Trentham. He had previously volunteered and been assigned to the 3rd Reserve Battalion. He embarked with 12th Reinforcements of the Canterbury Infantry Battalion, C Company, on the Ulimaroa for Suez 1 May 1916 arriving 9th June. A few months later he was sent to England arriving at Southampton on 7 August, proceeding to Sling Camp and after a short time, leaving for France on the 20th August. After time at the base depot in Etaples he rejoined the Canterbury Battalion on the 8th September. He was killed in action, aged 26, while charging from the trench known as Goose Alley near Flers, on the 25th September when the area was under heavy German shelling. His body was not found or identified and so his name is recorded on the Caterpillar Valley Memorial to the Missing. Colin is remembered on the Tai Tapu War Memorial.

 Researched and written by L M Seaton

CWGC Cemetery locale history: Caterpillar Valley was the name given by the army to the long valley which rises eastwards, past "Caterpillar Wood", to the high ground at Guillemont. The ground was captured, after very fierce fighting, in the latter part of July 1916. It was lost in the German advance of March 1918 and recovered by the 38th (Welsh) Division on 28 August 1918, when a little cemetery was made (now Plot 1 of this cemetery) containing 25 graves of the 38th Division and the 6th Dragoon Guards. After the Armistice, this cemetery was hugely increased when the graves of more than 5,500 officers and men were brought in from other small cemeteries, and the battlefields of the Somme. The great majority of these soldiers died in the autumn of 1916 and almost all the rest in August or September 1918. CATERPILLAR VALLEY CEMETERY now contains 5,569 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 3,796 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 32 casualties known or believed to be buried among them, and to three buried in McCormick's Post Cemetery whose graves were destroyed by shell fire. On 6 November 2004, the remains of an unidentified New Zealand soldier were entrusted to New Zealand at a ceremony held at the Longueval Memorial, France. The remains had been exhumed by staff of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission from Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, France, Plot 14, Row A, Grave 27 and were later laid to rest within the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, at the National War Memorial, Wellington, New Zealand. On the east side of the cemetery is the CATERPILLAR VALLEY (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL, commemorating more than 1,200 officers and men of the New Zealand Division who died in the Battles of the Somme in 1916, and whose graves are not known. This is one of seven memorials in France and Belgium to those New Zealand soldiers who died on the Western Front and whose graves are not known. The memorials are all in cemeteries chosen as appropriate to the fighting in which the men died. Both cemetery and memorial were designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

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Colin McDonald


First Names:Colin
Last Name:McDonald
Date of Birth:22 September 1890
Place of Birth:Lincoln
Date of Death:25 September 1916
Place of Death:Somme, France
Memorial or Cemetery:Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France
Age at death:26
User Name:L. M. Seaton
Occupation before enlisting:Groom and ploughman
Marital Status:Single
Nominal Roll:30/10
Regiment or Service:Canterbury Infantry Regiment
Country:New Zealand
Enlistment details:12 January 1916
Parents or Next of Kin:Son of Daniel and Mary Jane McDonald, of Christchurch.
Service Number:11704
Rank last held:Private
Embarkation:1 May 1916
Place of Embarkation:Wellington
Transport:Ulimaroa
Theatres of War:Somme
Cause of Death:Killed in action