Lieutenant James David Ralston Gilkison

Date of Birth 1 August 1884
Age at Death 30
Date of Death 26 August 1914
Service Number
Military Service 2nd Brigade Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
Merton Address 6 the Downs, Wimbledon
Local Memorial Trinity United Reformed Church, Wimbledon

Additional Information

Born in Sutton on 1 August, 1884 in Sutton, James was baptised at St. George’s Presbyterian Church, Croydon in October that year. He was the youngest son of Dugald and Margaret Gilkison. The couple also had two older children, Dugald and Joan. Dugald Gilkison snr was a partner in “Peirce and Leslie,” a firm of coffee and tea planters and producers. The family moved back to England during the early 1880s,whilst the children were still in their infancy. They initially lived in Sutton but moved to 6, The Downs, Wimbledon in the years prior to the First World War.
Educated privately at the famous Rugby School, James then studied at Trinity College, Oxford, before being called to the Bar in January 1906. On 11 December 1907 he was gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlander, being promoted to Lieutenant in 1910.
On 8 June 1914 James was engaged to Katherine Burford-Hancock, daughter of a Lieutenant Colonel – sadly their marriage was destined never to happen. In August 1916 James and his unit were sent to France, landing at Boulogne before being transferred to the front.

As part of the British Expeditionary Force, the 2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were soon put into action. On 26 August they fought gallantly at Le Cateau, near Cambrai. This was the second major battle of the war and involved British and French troops fighting from defensive positions following their retreat from Mons. James was reported missing during the fighting and was later declared dead. In a particularly unfortunate turn of events, his promotion to captain was announed in the London Gazette in 1916, which gave his family false hope that he might still be alive.

James was buried at Le Cateau Military Cemtery near Cambrai, France. He is also commemorated locally on a brass plaque at Trinity United Reform Church in Mansel Road, Wimbledon and in a memorial book at Christ Church, Copse Hill. He left over £8100 pounds to his father. His older brother Dugald was killed less than a month later at the Battle of the Aisne.


* Required field