03 August 2017Gunners Andrew & Thomas Harcus of Westray
Today is the centenary of the deaths of two distant cousins from Westray during the Battle of Passchendaele. Andrew and Thomas Harcus joined up together in December 1915 and died together on 3rd August 1917. They were killed when a shell exploded prematurely in the breech of the howitzer of which they were part of the firing team. The story of the two Westray ploughmen and gunners has been added as a pdf to the Westray section of the website, or can be downloaded direct using the link below.
22 July 20171750 Gunner John Victor Bias
Yesterday was the centenary of the death of Victor Bias of Birsay, a gunner in 1st Australian Field Artillery Brigade and a Gallipoli veteran. The preliminary artillery bombardment for the Third Battle of Ypres (now known as Passchendaele) started on 16th July 1917. The BEF used a total of 2,868 guns and howitzers, while the Germans had 1,556 to oppose them. Victor's gun was an 18-pounder field gun, one of 1,098 in action during the artillery duel. When his gun was hit by German fire on 21st July, Victor and five gunners were killed, also an officer. Victor's story can be downloaded as a pdf from the Birsay section of the website, or directly using the link below.