Note of an Unknown Soldier

Bank of Scotland £1, April 1915 (front and reverse).

Bank of Scotland £1, April 1915 (front and reverse).

On the face of it, this appears to be just another £1 note. It was issued by the Bank of Scotland in April 1915.  But a handwritten message on the reverse reveals a very different story:

Farewell faithful friend/ you have followed me to / Suvla Bay & back More than/ one shell has crossed over you/ adieu/ a wounded Lovat Scout.

The ‘Lovat Scouts’ were a Scottish sniper unit, formed in 1900 by the 14th Lord Lovat. Mobilised at the start of the war, the Scouts were sent to Suvla Bay, Gallipoli in September 1915.  There they helped defend British trench positions from the Turks. Three months later, the evacuation of troops from Suvla Bay began. The Scouts were the very last to leave, in the early hours of 20th December.

The author of the message appears to have been one of the luckier individuals. As his scribbles attest, though wounded, he survived to return home with his ‘faithful friend’.

But his identity remains a mystery. He may have worked for one of the Scottish banks in the Group – we just don’t know. However, his brief lines have left us an unusual and poignant insight into one man’s experience on the front line.

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