LSgt Alex McCurdie
14th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
The youngest of ten children, Alex McCurdie was born on 7th January 1895 in the mining village of Trabboch, Ayrshire. He enjoyed a bright school career and was playing for Glasgow University when he was spotted by Kilmarnock’s secretary.
A promising centre forward, Alex made his Killie League debut against Airdrieonians on 20th September 1913, scoring his first, and only, League goals for them a month later with a double against Hamilton Academical. These were tough times for Kilmarnock and, apart from that win over Hamilton, Alex only enjoyed one more win in his 11 starts, ironically in his final game for the club.
Alex scored regularly in friendlies, but his greatest success came during a loan spell with non-League Stevenston United, helping the amateur club reach the last eight of the Scottish Cup, where it took First Division side Third Lanark three games to finally overcome their lowly opponents one goal to nil after extra time.
Following the outbreak of the First World War, Alex, along with many of his Kilmarnock teammates, was quick to enlist and, judging by his service number, began his war service in May 1915 with 14th (Service) Battalion of Princess Louise’s (Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders), which had been formed at Stirling in early 1915 as part of Lord Kitchener’s ‘New Army’. The battalion was soon posted to Plymouth to undertake its initial training in preparation for deployment to the Western Front.
By the end of September 1915, the battalion was stationed at Aldershot, billeted at nearby Witley, and it was here that Alex came to Reading FC’s attention. Alex made a scoring debut in a friendly at Portsmouth but ended up on the losing side, as he did the following week at Millwall. After spending the first half of the season playing friendlies, Reading FC finally gained admission to the London Combination and Alex’s final match for Reading was in this competition. The fixture against West Ham saw him make his one appearance at Elm Park, but again he ended up on the losing side, although the 4-0 defeat was something of a relief for Reading as, either side of Alex’s farewell, the team had lost 9-2 and 10-1!
Shortly after, Alex’s battalion was deployed to the Western Front, landing at Le Havre around 2nd June 1916. Taking part in the Battle of the Ancre in the latter part of the Somme Campaign, Alex soon distinguished himself in combat. By April 1917 he had been promoted to the rank of Lance Sergeant and he had been recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry, but events overtook him.
As part of the offensive against the German ‘Hindenburg Line’, his battalion was involved in fierce fighting at the village of Beaucamp and, whilst on patrol at around noon on 24th April 1917, Alex was killed; one of eleven soldiers from the battalion who were killed in fighting that day.
Originally buried in Argyle Road Cemetery to the north side of Beaucamp, his body was reinterred in Fifteen Ravine British Cemetery, just south-east of the village of Villers-Plouich in October 1919. Alex was one of seven Kilmarnock players to be killed whilst serving during the First World War. He is commemorated on the War memorial in Manchline, Ayrshire.
Killed in action at Beaucamp, 24th April 1917.
Buried at Fifteen Ravine British Cemetery, Villers-Plouich, France.