Friday, 1 July 2016

Orkney at War - Stanley Cursiter at the Somme

In July 1916 Stanley Cursiter spent a short time at the Somme. After many months of training for the 7th Scottish Rifles as a private, he was given three days leave, then... "a week later I was sitting in a front line trench on the Somme".

Stanley Cursiter
Archive Reference: L7959/3
"The unit I was sent to was the 1st Battalion of the Scottish Rifles - the Cameronians - which at that time was holding the extreme right flank of the British Army. The Battalion had suffered badly in an attack on the little village of Le Transloy, and had lost almost a quarter of its strength. In a final tour of the front line, the almost continuous rain, the mud of the Somme, and flooded trenches, took a severe toll in sickness. The Battalion was withdrawn to a back area between Amiens and Abbeville, where it could be re-built with drafts of recruits. It was at this stage that I went down with a bad attack of bronchitis and asthma."
Discharge Papers
Archive Reference: D26/1/1 A
Due to ill health Stanley Cursiter never went back to the front line, but "pleaded with the presiding doctors not to send me back to England". Instead with his aptitude for drawing and lithographic training, he was discharged from the Scottish Rifles on 22nd July 1916 and received a commission on the 24th July 1916 and promotion to Lieutenant to print maps at 4th Field Survey Battalion at 4th Army Headquarters. For this work he was mentioned twice in dispatches and received the OBE.

If you would like to know more about life in the trenches, we have a copy of "Twelve Days on the Somme" by Sidney Rogerson in the Orkney Room reference 941.09. Stanley Cursiter contributed a drawing of Camp 34, Trones Wood to this book.

Quotes taken from "Looking Back - a book of reminiscences" by Stanley Cursiter, published in 1974, Orkney Room reference 759.2 Y
Other information taken from "Who was Who in Orkney" by W.S. Hewison, published in 1998, Orkney Room reference 920 Y and other documents in Archive D26/1/1A.

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