Murrays in Manitoba
Peter Murray Corporal
Peter MURRAY was born on 19 October 1891 at Geneva Cottage, in the village of Moffat in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. He was a son of Walter MURRAY and Helen TAIT. When Peter was only five (5), his father died of tuberculosis. Peter and his two siblings were raised in the separate households of relatives because their mother, Helen Tait MURRAY, died (also of tuberculosis) before Peter turned seven (7).
Indeed, in 1901, Peter was living with his Uncle and Aunt, Peter MURRAY and Christina HEPBURN at Archbank Cottage in the Moffat Parish in Dumfriesshire. (More info on Peter MURRAY and Christina Hepburn MURRAY and their family, can be found in Tom MURRAY's book, THE FRUITFUL SHEPHERD.)
By 1911, Peter was working as a Grocer and living in Glasgow. On 13 September 1911, Peter boarded the Cameronia and headed for New York. He arrived in New York on 22 September 1911 and lived for a time at the Mills Hotel.
By 1914, Peter was living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and working as a Car Repairer. He was also involved in the local active militia as a member of the 79th Cameron Highlanders of Canada.
On 25 October 1914, Peter MURRAY enlisted in the Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force (CEF). He was given the Service Number of 71292 and assigned to the 27th Battalion, 6th Infantry Brigade of the 2nd Canadian Division. Peter was 23 years old, 5' 8", 133 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.
On 13 May 1915, Peter MURRAY marched with his 27th Bn. from their barracks to the Canadian Pacific Railway siding where a sixteen (16) car train was waiting to take the men to Quebec. During the march, the Battalion was met by the Pipe Band of the 43rd Bn. About 2000 friends and relatives were at the station to bid the 27th Bn. good-bye. The band of the 78th Bn. played while the men of the 27th boarded the train and left Winnipeg.
The train arrived in Quebec at 2:00 a.m. on the morning of 16 May 1915 and the men of the 27th Bn. immediately boarded the S. S. Carpathia. The ship left Quebec in the afternoon of the next day. On 28 May 1915, the Carpathia arrived in Devonport, England. It is noted that the men of the 27th were ordered not the cheer as the entered the port. This order was not obeyed.
The next day, Peter MURRAY and the 27th Bn. were taken by train to Dibgate Camp near Folkstone, England. (Dibgate Camp was not far from the modern-day British entrance to the Channel Tunnel.) Intense physical exercise and training began for the 27th Bn. on 31 May 1915.
On 20 July 1915 Peter MURRAY and the 27th Bn. moved about 7 miles West to Otterpool Camp. At Otterpool the calisthenics, musketry practice, bayonet fighting, fire discipline, recognition of targets, and entrenchment training continued.
On 02 September 1915, Peter was with the 27th Bn. when the marched to Beachburough where they were inspected by His Majesty The King.
On 17 September 1915, Peter MURRAY and the 27th Bn. marched to Folkstone docks and embarked to France. They arrived in Boulogne, France early in the morning on the 18th. Soon, they were on a train that took the battalion to Saint-Sylvestre. On the 22nd, the battalion marched all day until they reached the Bulford Farm which is East of Bailleul. The menacing sound of heavy artillery was heard by the battalion off to the South East on the morning of the 25th.
Several months were spent relieving the 29th Battalion for six (6) days in the trenches and then being relieved for six (6) days by the 29th Bn. Peter MURRAY and the 27th Bn. were the target of an artillery barrage on 17 October 1915 in which two (2) soldiers were killed and eleven (11) were wounded.
At the end of March, 1916 the 27th Bn. moved to near La Clytte, France as they were to be involved in the offensive to take a group of large mine craters from the Germans south of St. Eloi. The 27th Bn. was in the process of being relieved by 29th Bn. in the flooded crater field, when at 11pm on 5 April the German artillery opened a three hour bombardment. The next day, German infantry attacked and the battalion that replaced Peter MURRAY's battalion was badly mauled.
More months were spent rotating in and out of the front line trenches in places near the St. Eloi sector. Peter MURRAY was approved for Lance Corporal in May of 1916 and was promoted to Corporal on 04 August 1916.
The first days of September were an exciting time for the 27th Battalion. They moved to training areas near Volkerickhove, Bollezerle, Norledlinghem, and St. Omer where they practiced ground attacks following a "creeping barrage" and heard rumors that the 27th Bn. would be supporting the first use of 27 ton armoured tracked vehicles in warfare.
The 27th Battalion learned that the attack was to be on the 15th of September and their first objective was the present German front line. (see map) The second objective was the line of the sunken road and the third objective was the enemy trench system behind the sunken road.
Peter MURRAY and "A Company" were to be in the first wave and were ordered to "deal with the sunken road junction" and "go straight through to the final objective". The assault was to be delivered at a steady walk "staying close to the barrage". "It is only by getting up under cover of the barrage that the enemy machine guns can be put out of action", they were told. If the tanks were unable to go as fast as the infantry, "the latter will not wait for them".
The 27th Battalion left their barracks at 2:00 pm on September 14th and proceeded to the assembly trench, just behind the front line. Owing to the congestion in the assembly trench, the Bn. was not in place until 4:25 a.m.
At 6:20 a.m. on 15 September 1916, the barrage began and Peter MURRAY and the first wave "commenced crawling over". As the barrage lifted the first wave was met at the German trench with heavy machine gun fire and enemy artillery.
Peter MURRAY, the blue-eyed boy from Moffat, was last seen in a shell hole with both legs severed but still shouting for the other men to "Charge!" He died before he could be removed to a medical station. He was only 24 years old. His name is recorded on a headstone in the Courcelette British Cemetery in France.