Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Sgt. A. N. Sutherland

Alexander Nicholas Sutherland, Sergeant 18th Queen Mary's Own Hussars, killed 24th August 1914.
Son of Walter David Sutherland, Clashmore, Dornoch, Sutherland; husband of Gertrude Maude Ward (formerly Sutherland), of Highfield House, Ludgershall, Andover, Hants. He is buried in Cement House Cemetery, Belgium.

This man was a regular soldier – in an early cavalry attack near Mons he reached down to help a French cavalry officer and as a consequence was shot in the back and died from his wounds…………..the French officer survived and remembered Alexander who  was awarded the French medal militiare posthumously.
He was one of the very first casualties of the war.

Not too many years ago the authorities were persuaded to add the French MM after his name on the Dornoch war memorial- it is in slightly raised bronze.  There is a plaque in Dornoch cathedral which features his name along with others from the congregation who lost their lives in the Great War

Meanwhile his brother Walter had emigrated from Clashmore (where he had been a gardener at Skibo castle) to Canada. When he heard of Alexander’s death he enlisted with the Canadian expeditionary force and was posted to the western front near to the town of Poperinge in Flanders, Belgium.

He met a local girl who served him a beer in an estaminet (wee local pub) and they got married…………so he stayed on in the area. After the war his gardening experience stood him in good stead and he got a job with the CWGC and worked in Lissjenthoek cemetery until his retiral. He had a son George who is almost 88 – he and my George are second cousins!

I only know this story because of our going to Talbot House in Poperinge  as volunteer wardens. George discovered the family connection and once we found George A Sutherland’s name in the local phone book, contact was made and friendships formed………

We will remember Alex on the 11th November but are grateful for the family connection made with George, his wife and family.

The picture below shows Walter in the early days of planting trees in the cemetery.

Morag L Sutherland – October 2009

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