2nd Lieutenant James Semple Herd

Biography of 2nd Lieutenant James Semple Herd

James Semple Herd was born on the 8th February 1897 in Paisley, Renfrewshire, to Alexander and Annie Herd. Alexander was a Plumber, and the family lived at Saucel Bank in Paisley. James was educated at the Paisley Grammar School and William B. Barbour Academy, where he successfully completed the Junior Student’s Certificate course on 31st July 1915. This included approximately 205 hours of practical training in the art of teaching, and was one of the main qualifications for entry to teacher training college.

In the autumn of 1915, James proceeded to the Glasgow Provincial Training College (forerunner of Jordanhill College of Education, now the University of Strathclyde), where he enrolled for a course of teacher training offered in conjunction with the University of Glasgow. Students on this particular course were required to take some of their subjects at the College, and others at the University. If successful, they obtained two qualifications: the Teacher’s General Certificate, entitling them to teach in primary schools, and an Arts degree. The College student register shows that James’s family had an annual income of £154, with four dependents earning no income and the eldest of the family an invalid. In view of these necessitous circumstances, James was granted a maintenance allowance of £30.

In session 1915-1916, James took University classes in French and Latin, but his first year of study was to be his last, as the War forced him to abandon his course. James would become 2nd Lieutenant in the 52nd Coy. Machine Gun Corps, and was sent to the Western Front in April 1917.

On the 12th October his Company were part of the 17th Division which attacked south of the Langemark railway station and east of the Poelcapelle-Houthulst Forest road. 2nd Lieutenant James Semple Herd was killed in action just four days later on the 16th October 1917 in Poelcapelle. He was 20 years old. He is buried in the Cement House Cemetery, Belgium, near the town of Langemark. James is remembered on the Roll of Honour of the Glasgow Provincial Committee for the Training of Teachers, and on the Glasgow Provincial Training College War Memorial, located in the David Stow Building on the former Jordanhill Campus.


2nd Lieutenant James Semple Herd
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Regiment: 52nd Coy. Machine Gun Corps
Degree: Student
Awards: N/A
Comments: Killed in action, 16 October 1917.
Note/Press Clipping: Ch 4/4/2/3/1060
Photo ID: Ch 4/4/2/2/96


University of Glasgow Registry and Roll of Honour records.

Biography: Service information contributed by Jan Van der Fraenen, The Passchendaele Archives of the Memorial Museum Passchendaele

Burial Place: Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour Register

Additional information provided by Strathclyde University Archives

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