Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The youngest of them all

Faces from the Lewis War Memorial lists the approximately 1,280 casualties from the Isle of Lewis who died in, or as a direct consequence of, the First World War. Today, I was asked by the Lijssenthoek Cemetery in Poperinghe, Belgium, for further details on Donald Snaddon, 39A Balallan. He is one of the 10,755 war dead, buried in that cemetery. Poperinghe is not far from Ypres [Ieper], scene of fierce fighting during the First World War.

Donald Snaddon stands out because he is the youngest serviceman from Lewis to have fallen in the Great War. He was aged only 15 when he died of wounds on 18 January 1916. Donald served with 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers, reg 17780, having joined up on 10 April 1915. His enlistment form is barely legible, but it would appear he "put his age on" - as being 18. And the authorities did not spot this. The service record does not tell us much more, only 10 pages of it survive.

His family history centres on the village of Balallan, 17 miles southwest of Stornoway.
Roderick Macleod (born 1792), son of Donald Macleod and Catherine Mackay, married Catherine Macarthur (1801). The family moved to 39 Balallan in the 1850s.

One of their children was named Donald (born 1837). Roderick and Donald split the croft between them, leaving Donald on 39A Balallan. He married Marion and had 9 children, among them a daughter, Mary, born 1870.

Mary married William Snaddon and lived in Glasgow, but two of their sons lived in Balallan. One of them was Donald, born 2 June 1900; his brother William was born in 1897.

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