Raitts in the 1st World War

Whilst looking up various details for people on the Aberdeenshire Raitts page, I came across a couple of records of service during the 1st World War. The British records were heavily damaged by fire and thus some of the information is missing and other bits are not too legible. However, there is enough information to be able to add some interesting facts about these individuals. Since their addition would have made the Aberdeenshire Raitts page even longer, then I have chosen to included them on a separate page here. At the moment I have only provided the records of two William Raitts from Aberdeen - but I will gradually add more records, not only from Raitts from Aberdeen, but also elsewhere - and perhaps also from the 2nd World War.


However, unfortunately about 60% of soldiers’ Service Records were irretrievably damaged or lost completely as a result of enemy bombing in 1940 during the Second World War, although about a third, approximately 2 million, were saved from destruction - known as the "Burnt Documents". As a result of the loss of so many of the 1st World War Service Records, there is now only a 40% chance that the Service Record of a particular individual will be available to examine. The surviving 2 million “Burnt Documents” Service Records are mainly for soldiers who were discharged, demobilized at the end of the war, who died between 1914 and 1920 and who were not eligible for an Army pension.


I have also included on this page some brief details of various Raitts (and Raits) who served with the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force during the 1st World War. I had included that information on the Canadian Raitts page, but have now moved it here instead.

William Raitt, son of James Raitt and Elizabeth McKessock, (see Aberdeenshire Raitts) was in the Army in World War 1 - his fire-damaged service record gives his address as Cairney Quarry, Moorside, Aberdeen and his age as 29 years and 300 days! His trade was fireman and he said he had previously served in the Lancashire Fusiliers. He was willing to be enlisted for General Service, received and understood a Notice received from Sergeant Farrow, Scots Guards and was willing to serve. His attestation was signed on 18 November 1914 in Aberdeen by the Commander Depot Gordon Highlanders. He provided some personal information: his chest girth when fully expanded was 38in - a 3in range of expansion; he also had distinctive marks - clasped hands over heart and love on back of right forearm. His next of kin was wife Elizabeth Raitt, Cairney Quarry, Aberdeenshire - though her latest address of 1 Rosemount House, Aberdeen was added. Her name was also given as Elizabeth Moir and they were married on 19 January 1912 in Aberdeen and their present address was again given as Cairney Quarry. He had one child named George Rennie born 16 June 1913 in Aberdeen. His statement of service notes that his service towards limited engagement reckoned from 18 November 1914 and he joined at Bury on 23 November 1914. He was again in the Lancashire Fusiliers - first as a private and then a lance corporal. He was posted several times (to where not known) but was discharged on 20 May 1916 as being no longer physically fit for war service because of a gun shot wound. He served a total time of one year and 185 days and received a pension. On 16 May 1916 he was requested to forward birth certificates of children born before the date of discharge and under 18 years of age or maintained by him. At that time he was living at 100 Huntly Street, Aberdeen. He responded that he had no children maintained by him. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War medal and the Victory medal. The letter accompanying the British War and Victory medals awarded for service with the Lancashire Fusiliers was dated 14 September 1992 and the letter accompanying the 1914-15 Star was dated 21 September 1922. William later wrote on 22 November asking whether he could have some help in getting a discharged wounded soldier’s badge.


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William John Raitt, address Schoolhouse, Mintlaw, youngest son of James Raitt and Victorine Jane Gordon, (see Aberdeenshire Raitts) was a private in the 3/2nd Highland Field Ambulance regiment, Royal Army Medical Corps, signing on for the duration of the war. He served from 6 September 1915 until 31 March 1920 - a total service towards engagement in the Territorial Force of four years 208 days. On 6 September 1917 he was granted his first (unreadable) badge. He embarked at Southampton on 15 April 1917 with the draft of the 3/2nd Highland Field Ambulance and disembarked at [Le] Havre on 16 April, re-embarked at Havre on 18 April, and subsequently disembarked at Rouen that same day, joining the Cyclists’s B. Depot there. He was subsequently attached to the 89/1/1 Highlands in the field on 5 May 1919. His fire-damaged service record provides some interesting additional details. He was wounded in action on 11 April 1918 - in fact he was gassed. He was granted a week’s leave in Paris from 2-9 September 1918 and while there his war pay was increased from 5th rate Corps pay to 3rd grade from 6 September 2018. He seems to have been transferred again on 14 October 1918 and returned to England on 4 November 1918. On his discharge page, his places and dates of service are detailed: Home from 6 September 1915-14 April 1917 (1 year 221 days); B.E.F. from 15 April 1917-5 March 1918 (325 days); leave to UK from 6 March-20 March 1918 (15 days); B.E.F. from 21 March 1918-3 November 1918 (224 days); Home from 4 November 1918-13 February 1919 (102 days); (Unreadable) service from 14 February 1919-31 March 1920 (1 year 47 days) - total 4 years 208 days. His medical record notes that he was examined on 28 August 1915 at Fonthill, Aberdeen. He was a civil service student aged 19 years and 240 days. He was 5ft 7⅝ tall, weighed 135 pounds, had a chest girth of 35in and an expansion range of 3in, and was of good physical development. He had three vaccination marks on his left arm and had been vaccinated in infancy. His vision was 6/6 in both eyes. His regiment on enlistment was 3/2 H.F.A, R.A.M.C (T). He seems to have been in military hospital twice for tonsillitis - from 20 April 1916-1 May 1916 in Hawick; and from 29 June 1916-6 July 1916 in Peebles. He was subsequently in hospital in Cheltenham from 4 November 1918-21 November 1918 (?) for an unreadable illness. Another record shows that he was granted furlough from 20-30 December 1918 to go to the School House, Mintlaw. His regimental conduct sheet appears to have only one entry - namely that on 6 September 1915 he was “Certified no entry while with “H” Company” - whether this is an offence or not is unclear, but no witnesses are listed and no punishment is recorded. In a document entitled Protection Certificate and Certificate of Identity dated 17 January 1919 in Kinross he received an advance of £2 and was granted 28 days furlough. He was later awarded the British War and Victory medals.

Whilst finding information about the Raitts in Quebec (some of whom went elsewhere - Ontario, Alberta) and finishing off the details for Stanley Raitt, I came across his Attestation Paper for the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force (CEF).


There were several other Raitts in the list - as well as a few Raits. Although some of the information provided may already be included in the details given for certain individuals on the various Canadian Raitt pages, I have given a brief overview of these men here and will add fuller details in due course.


George H. Raitt - born Ottawa, Ontario, 3 Nov 1891 - father James Raitt. Attested Ottawa, Ontario, 21 Jan 1915 (see Canadian Raitts page).


John Kidd Raitt - born Dundee, Scotland, 10 April 1897 - mother Isabella Raitt. Attested Toronto, Ontario, 13 April 1916.


Joseph Raitt - born Dundee, Scotland, 1 Jan 1876 - wife Isabella Raitt. Attested Toronto, Ontario, 31 July 1916.


Stanley Raitt - born Lachute, Argenteuil, Quebec - father James Raitt. Attested Edmonton, Alberta, 27 March 1916 (see Quebec Raitts page).


William Raitt - born Southampton, England, 14 Dec 1886 - mother Mrs John Raitt. Attested Estevan, Saskatchewan, 6 Nov 1916 - called up on 18 Jan 1918.


Charles Rait - born Aberdeen, Scotland, 19 Aug 1880 - father Charles Rait. Attested Edmonton, Alberta, 11 Jan 1915.


Duncan Rait - born Glasgow, Scotland, 3 Dec 1890 - father James C. Raitt. Attested Winnipeg, Manitoba, 9 Dec 1914.


Henry Waller Rait - born Rothiemuir, Ireland, 29 Nov 1873 - sister Mrs C. D. M. Hundleway (?). Attested Victoria, British Columbia, 3 Dec 1915.


James Malcom Rait - born Dublin, Ireland, 3 June 1877 - wife Mrs Cecilia Raitt. Attested Valcartier, Quebec, 21 Sep 1914.


Robert Rait - born Aberdeen, Scotland, 9 Sept 1897 - mother Margaret Rait. Attested, Toronto, Ontario, 20 Nov 1915 (see Canadian Raitts page).