World War 1

Search the known records to date of those lost from the wider Alnwick area in World War 1

Generally showing where they are commemorated, when they died and some basic facts about each person. There are gaps, however, so if you can fill in any missing details do please contact us.

William Nairn




Service Number:


Northumberland Fusiliers, 1/7th Battalion Territorial Force



Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper

Service History:
Enlisted at Alnwick, Northumberland.

After completing his training William arrived in France on 21 April 1915, just in time to be rushed to the front to take part in the Second Battle of Ypres. This was the battle in which the Germans first used poison gas - 160 tons of chlorine gas were released on the first day of the battle alone.

The British suffered twice as many casualties as the Germans, principally due to their unpreparedness for this type of warfare.

In their attack the Germans gained over 3 miles of ground in the St. Julien sector to the north of Ypres (now called Ieper).

Nairn was one of the first five men from Amble to be killed in action or missing, presumed dead. The others were Laurence Fealey; George William Geggie; Alexander MacKay; & Robert Stephen Mossman.

A military report describes the background & ensuing hostilities of April 1915 in which they lost their lives:

'The Battalion received orders to support an attack to be made by the 4th & 6th Battalions Northumberland Fusiliers, on the village of St. Julien.

As soon as the Battalion moved off, it came under very heavy artillery fire, & on reaching the St. Julien - Wieltje road also came under heavy machine gun fire & rifle fire. The Battalion moved up into the firing line as reinforcements, the men advancing at the double in extended order. Advances were made by rushes, but no good fire positions could be obtained, as it was seen that a trench to our front was occupied by the Seaforth Highlanders. The Battalion suffered heavy casualties.'
(Source: 'In Memory of the Fallen: Amble & surrounding area'; Compiled by Jane Dargue, Jim Donnelly & Helen Lewis; 2014; p. 9)

Nairn was posted KIA ('Killed in action') on 26 April 1915, only 5 days after arriving on the Continent. His remains were never found & identified, so he is remembered with other 'Missing' on the Menin Gate, at Ieper.

Son of Peter (b. 1859 at Embleton, Northumberland) Nairn & his wife Mary Ann (née Mordue; b. 1860 at Amble, Northumberland) of 5, Leslie Row, Radcliffe, Morpeth, Northumberland.

At the time of the 1901 Census the family lived at Acklington Street, Amble when Nairn's father's occupation was recorded as a Coal Miner & Stone Mason. Nairn was 9 years old. He had an older brother, George (b. 1885), & sisters Jane (b. 1890) & Mary Ann (b. 1896). George was not living with the family in 1901.

The 1911 Census records Nairn, 18, as a Worker Labourer Below. His birthplace is shown as Ashington.

Nairn's connection with Edlingham is not entirely clear but his mother may have been related to the long-established Mordue family that lived there. His Attestation papers state he was living at Alnwick when he enlisted, so he may have been staying with the Mordue family at Alnwick & working in the area at the time.

Local Memorial:
Amble War Memorial Amble Methodist Church Edlingham, Memorial Tablet in St. John the Baptist Church Radcliffe War Memorial