Roll of Honour

Lieutenant

James Barr Struthers

MA

James Barr Struthers was born on the 3rd December 1884, one of thirteen children. His father, also James, was a Draper and Clothier in Larkhall, where he and his wife, Agnes Picken Brown, lived at Elm Bank, Cadzow Street. After completing his early education locally he went on to study in the Arts Faculty at Glasgow University. In his first year in 1903 to 1904 he studied Latin and Mathematics; Logic, Education and English in second year; Moral Philosophy and Natural Philosophy in the third year. It was an education that equipped him to teach and this is what he did after graduating M.A. in 1906. He was employed as a teacher by Larkhall School Board, as were his sisters Lizzie and Susan.

Memorial chapel at the University of Glasgow
The Memorial Chapel at the University of Glasgow

In 1911, James emigrated to New Zealand and found a teaching post there. His parents and siblings left shortly after that. The family left the port of London in February 1912. Two of the children died at birth or early infancy but the others survived into adulthood and many of them had successful careers in New Zealand.

James, however, made the long journey back to Europe with his Regiment. He enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 7th September 1915 and left Wellington on the 8th January 1916 aboard the Maungani bound for Suez. It was in France, however, where he served with the 2nd Bn. Otago Regiment at the Somme that he fell. On 15th September 1916 his battalion, along with the 2nd Auckland, mounted an attack on the German line at the Switch Trench complex.

After an early breakfast and fortified with rum, they moved forward at 6.20am. The operation had been preceded by a heavy artillery bombardment, but the New Zealanders still faced constant machine gun fire. The Official History records that ‘the advancing waves had not proceeded far before officers and men began to drop from the ranks’.

Lieutenant James Barr Struthers was one of them. He was admitted to the 15th Corps Main Dressing Station before being passed down the line to the Red Cross base hospital in Rouen. He died there on 27th September 1916. He was 31. He is buried at St.Sever Cemetery near Rouen and remembered on the Larkhall War memorial. New Zealand losses were high on the Somme, but the Regiment distinguished itself and the immediate object on the day, the capture of the German trench, was successful.

Comments and Citations

Photograph: Image reproduced by kind permission of Donald Cochrane, Dunedin, New Zealand.

University of Glasgow Registry, Faculty and General Council Records.

New Zealand War Graves Projec