A Fate Awaited Him at Home

On July 29, 1915, The London Advertiser reported, in one line, that Private Hugh Marshall, reg. no. 54266 had “Died of injuries sustained by motor car accident. Glasgow, July 22.”

London Advertiser. July 29, 1915.

Not much of an epitaph for a man and his life.

Born in Glasgow on November 10, 1883, he was a 31-year-old volunteer when he enlisted at Windsor, Ontario on cold day on January 12, 1915, with the 33rd Battalion. He was transferred to the 18th shortly after his enlistment to boost it complement to bring it to strength so it could ship overseas. Less than three months would pass and the now Private Marshall, of the 18th Battalion, would be in England and closer to his family in Scotland. Perhaps part of the motivation for this plumber in civilian life was the opportunity to visit his family again, a dream that may not have been realized for him if that had not been a war. Approximately 50% of the men of the 18th Battalion were born on the British Isles and this motivation was expressed once the Battalion arrived in England as there are many instances of men being absent without leave.

Private Marshall had ties in Scotland as he named his sister, Mrs. Jeanie Rennie, resident at 6 Ardgown Street, Glasgow as his next of kin. His father was still alive, but it appears that he had no permanent address and any communication to him was in care of his daughter. He also had a brother who lived in Dennistoun section of Glasgow.

Private Marshall, arriving in England along with the rest of the 18th began their training at West Sandling, Kent. On the 17th of July Private Marshall took leave to visit his family. This was a fateful decision, as evidenced by the news paper clipping printed in London. He was to die of the results of a motor vehicle accident, one day prior to his leave ending.

“RUN DOWN BY MOTOR

Canadian Soldier Fatally Injured.

A motor accident took place in Buchanan Street, Glasgow, at its intersection with Renfrew Street, by which a Canadian soldier on furlough received injuries which shortly afterwards proved fatal. It appears that the unfortunate man was crossing from west to east just as a motor car approached from the north. The driver, who was proceeding at a comparatively slow pace, blew his horn, and the soldier, first stopping, then got right in front of the car and was knocked down. He was seriously wounded about the head, and was immediately taken in the car to the Royal Infirmary, where his injuries were attended to. The unfortunate man, however, died shortly afterwards. A regimental pass found on the dead man stated the Driver Hugh Marshall (54266) [18th] Battalion C.E.F., had been granted furlough from the 17th to the 23rd inst. for the purpose of visiting his parents in Glasgow. The body was placed in the mortuary at the Royal Infirmary to await identification. Witnesses of the accident state that no blame whatever attaches to the driver of the motor car.”

The Coatbridge Leader. July 24, 1915.

The Royal Glasgow Infirmary. This section was constructed in 1914. By Daniel Naczk – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=90462552

Times have changed since the accident over 100-years ago. Renfrew and Buchanan Streets no longer meet as development of the Buchanan Galleries Shopping Mall has reconfigured the streets in that area. The Glasgow Royal Infirmary would have been approximately 1-mile away by road so the ability for medical care to be rendered for Private Marshall was only minutes away. Obviously, his injuries were beyond the medical care of that era and he was to die close to his home and kin. Not, as one would expect, much of a consolation to those that would mourn him.

Save for this and two other brief news articles, one would not know of Private Hugh Marshall, a single plumber from Windsor, Ontario.

He rests at the Sandymount Cemetery, 5 miles from where he died, in a single grave marked by a Portland Stone grave marker so typical those of 1,000 of his comrades of the 18th Battalion that populate the many cemeteries of England, France, and Belgium. The marker appears sad and alone in the cemetery. One wonders if anyone comes to stand beside it and remember this man.

With thanks for the contributions of the members of the 18th Battalion Facebook group and Lizbet Tobin, in particular, to which this article would not have been possible.

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