Glenfarg War Memorial Project

James Thomson Shearlaw

Sergeant 18196 H Company 21st Corps 3rd Sappers and Miners Royal Engineers

Born 4 March 1888, Forgandenny, Perthshire, Scotland
Died 28 August 1918, Ludd (Lod or Lydda), then Palestine, now Israel/Gaza.


James Shearlaw was the son of John and Marion (née Thomson) Shearlaw, who married 18 April 1884 in Edinburgh – his father a gamekeeper aged 35, his mother a domestic servant aged 29. James was their second son, born 4 March 1888 at Rossie Cottages, Forgandenny, Perthshire.

The 1891 census shows the family, father John aged 42 and mother Marion aged 36, son Joseph aged 6, James aged 3 and Mary aged 7 months, living at Rossie Gamekeeper's House in Forgandenny.

At the 1901 census they are still in Forgandenny , at Newbigging Cottage, with Joseph aged 16, James aged 13, Mary aged 10 and William aged 8.

By 1911 however, only John, his wife Marion and son William are still in the family household, now at Fordel, Arngask (Glenfarg), Perthshire. The occupation of both John aged 63 and his son William aged 19 is shown as rabbit trappers.

The eldest brother Joseph had emigrated to Canada, arriving in Montreal on 8 November 1906, where he worked as a carpenter. (On 31 March 1915 he enlisted in the 48th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry; he survived WW1, returning to Canada where on 9 June 1922 he married Alexandrina McLauchlan. He died in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on 29 November 1950.)

James, however, is shown on the 1911 census at Woolwich Barracks, London, where he is listed as a Sapper (i.e. Private), aged 23, single, serving with the 38th Company Royal Engineers as a blacksmith.
On 2 June 1915 he entered the theatre of war in France: it has been difficult to trace the movements of his company/division but at some point (possibly 1917) he entered the Mediterranean theatre of war where, on 28 August 1918, aged 30, he died of malaria at Alexandria, Egypt. He is buried in the Ramleh (Ramla or Ramallah) war cemetery in what is now designated 'Israel and Palestine (including Gaza)'.

It is not clear (although it seems likely as he would have been conscripted) whether his younger brother William (born 14 August 1892) also served in the war, but he died on 4 June 1932, aged 39, of emphysema, and is buried in Arngask Parish Churchyard. Perhaps because of this, the oldest brother Joseph and his wife Alexandrina made a visit to Glenfarg from Canada to visit their father at Wester Fordel, Glenfarg (their mother died in 1925) from September 1932 until departing on 29 April 1933. Their father died at Wester Fordel in 1937.