Canadian schoolchildren research Highlander’s World War I medal

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A class of Canadian children has partially solved the mystery of a long-lost World War I medal found in a box of oddments by a receptionist at their school – West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver.

The service medal bears the name of Private Andrew Gibson, whom the students believe served with the Black Watch, and who was killed in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) in 1917.

The BBC reports teacher Brian Roodnick, who said: ‘Many of our students were saddened that this young soldier’s medal had been forgotten and immediately set out to uncover his story.

‘They had so many questions: Who was he? How did his medal end up in a box of trinkets in Victoria? Did he have any surviving family?’

Private Gibson was born in 1891 to Andrew and Maggie Gibson. He lost his father when he was nine, and his sister died of tuberculosis in 1914. His brother died in France in 1916.

After enlisting in Scotland, Pte Gibson arrived in France in 1915 and was assigned to 2nd Battalion of the Black Watch.

For the next two years he fought with the regiment along the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as Baghdad was liberated and the Turks were pushed up the valley.

On 21 April 1917, the battalion was heavily engaged. Private Gibson was killed along with 37 other Black Watch soldiers and two officers. Another 155 were wounded.

That day one soldier of the battalion, Private James Melvin, won the VC for his bravery in taking a Turkish trench.

Private Gibson is commemorated on the Basra Memorial, Iraq. 

The class at West Point Grey Academy are now looking for living members of the soldier’s family.

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