2nd Bn Highland Light Infantry
Alexander, known as Alex; is my 1st cousin 3x removed. His father, Alexander; and my 2nd great grandfather, William; were siblings. Alexander was born on 2 Jul 1879 in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim. As I mentioned in a previous post; “Ballymoney is a small town in Co. Antrim; a short distance away from the Causeway Coast and the Glens of Antrim. It’s a place where I had the pleasure of living for a few years and a place, as a young girl; I didn’t want to leave…”
Alex was the middle child of three siblings born to Alexander Murdock and Jane Holmes. His parents married in the Ballymoney Reformed Presbyterian Church on 7 Jun 1877. His older sister Annie was born in 1878 and his little brother Archie was born in 1881. Sadly, just before Alex’s sixth birthday, on 15 Mar 1885; his mother passed away at the very young age of thirty. She left behind her husband and her three children who where all under the age of eight. Alex’s father remarried two years after Jane’s death.
In the 1901 Scottish Census Alex was living at 46 Hutcheson Street, Maryhill, Lanarkshire, Scotland and working as a general labourer. He was living with his aunt, Sarah Jayne Burkhill (nee Murdock); and family. It is unclear when he and his brother Archie had moved to Scotland. Annie remained in Ballymoney, having married in 1896 when she was still a minor.
Fast forward ten years later, in the 1911 Census Return of all Commissioned Officers, Warrant Officers, Non-Commission Officers, Trumpeters, Drummers and Rank; Alex is listed as a Lance Corporal in the Highland Light Infantry. While living in Glasgow Alex had enlisted in Hamilton, Lanarkshire.
Like his mother Jane, Alex was not destined to live a long life. An excerpt from “Ballymoney Heros” by Robert Thompson; reads:
“In January 1916 Alex was in hospital suffering from injuries but was improving and looking forward to ten days leave. I have been unable to trace the family of Alex Murdock but he was with his battalion north of the River Ancre in October 1916.
The first week of November saw a change in the weather, with some prospects of a lasting improvement. The weather had been very wet and the terrible condition of the water-logged trenches, many of which, including important communication ways, were little better than treacherous quagmires, while others were filled with water to a depth of three or four feet. The attack, however, was set for the 13th, zero hour being 5:45 a.m.
On the 11th the battalion occupied their trenches for the last time and after the huge amount of repair work which had been done on them they were so deep that it was almost impossible to get out of them and a great number of ladders had to be used to overcome the difficulty. So impetuous were the leading waves of the attack that they entered the enemy front line at the same time as the British barrage, and undoubtedly suffered many casualties from their own shell fire. Within six minutes the line was captured and many German prisoners taken. It was during this attack that Alex Murdock was killed…”
Alex is remembered in “Ireland’s Memorial Records – Soldiers Who Died in the Great War”; he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Pier 15 C. He has no known grave.
Like so many others, Alex didn’t come home.
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