Fitter Luther McKechnie of "A" Battery, 156 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery No. 88759
Luther was born on the 29th April 1893 and baptised on the 9th September at St Michael and All Angels Church in Haworth.
He was the youngest of eight children of James William McKechnie, a manager at a worsted mill, and Jane Elizabeth McKechnie. They lived at 4, Garden Street, Cross Roads. By 1911 Luther was working as a switchboard attendant for Keighley Corporation Electricity Works. Later he worked at Barrow Power Station.
Very little is known of his war service other than that he was killed in action aged 23 on 5th September 1916, by an explosion which killed three other comrades, including a father and son serving together.
All four are buried in adjoining graves in Dartmoor Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt, France.
Luther's brother-in-law Raymond Tilbrook had been killed in action, on 15th September 1915.
Keighley News report dated 30th September 1916:
LEES AND CROSS ROADS
Mr & Mrs James McKechnie, Garden Street, Cross Roads, have received from Woolwich the announcement that their youngest son, Fitter Luther McKechnie, aged 23, of the RFA, was killed in action on September 5 in France. Joining the RFA in February 1915, Fitter McKechnie was drafted nine months ago to France (13th Dec 1915), his last letter home having been written on the day of his death. He was peculiarly well qualified for the highly skilled work on which he was employed, for after leaving Lees Council School as a boy, he spent three years at Keighley Trade and Grammar School, and then obtained employment with the Shipley Tank Co. at St Dunstan's, subsequently proceeding to the Keighley Corporation's electricity works, and later being selected from 156 candidates by the Barrow Corporation for their electrical power station, Of a most cheerful disposition, he was highly intelligent, observant, and energetic, and a most promising craftsman. During his period of training and active service he had won the esteem of his officers and men. His eldest brother, Private Alec McKechnie, A.S.C., has been on active service in France for some months, and his late brother-in-law, Lance Corporal Raymond Tilbrook, fell in action at Armentieres twelve months ago.
Keighlian Magazine transcription:
Luther McKechnie. Fitter. R.F.A.
Luther McKechnie was at School from 1905 to 1908. He was the son of Mr. James McKechnie, Cross Roads, Keighley. After leaving school he entered the employment of the Shipley tank Company, Bradford, but afterwards entered the Keighley Corporation Electricity Works, where he worked for some years. He was in the employment of the Barrow Corporation in their Electrictiy Power Station - a position which he won in competition with 156 candidates - when he joined the Army.
Luther McKechnie was killed on September 5th, 1916, by the bursting of a shell whilst he was engaged in repairing one of our guns which was in the line.
He was a modest and unassuming young man, and was greatly liked by all those who knew him. This testimony to his memory is given not only by his old masters at School but also by his fellow-workmen at home.
He earned the 1915 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
He is remembered on the Roll of Honour in the Keighley Trade and Grammar School Magazine: 'The Keighlian', also on the Cross Roads War Memorial and on the family grave at Penistone Hill, Haworth:
Futher information added after research:
Commander, Royal Artillery - war diary entry for 5th September 1916:
7th Divisional Artillery
DAILY REPORT from 10 pm 4th to 10 pm 5th Septembert.
Wet, cloudy and windy, observation fair.
A quiet night. During the morning 10.5 cm howitzers shelled two of our brigades in CATERPILLAR VALLEY from the direction of LES BOEUFS. About noon, a 21 cm howitzer battery between LES BOEUFS and MORVAC shelled squares S.22.b and d., and dropped a salvo of three into one of our batteries; two of the rounds fell in the deep narrow trench dug behind the battery and caused heavy casualties.
The four men killed in this hostile fire incident were:
11715 Gunner W. G. Hockey RFA aged 30
88759 Fitter L. McKechnie RFA Aged 23
6029 Sergeant G. Lee RFA aged 44 (father)
71939 Corporal R. Lee RFA aged 19. (son)
The area where they were operating in squares 22 b and d:
Birth, marriage and death records.
1901 and 1911 census.
WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920.
Army service records.
Keighley News archives, Keighley Library.
National Archives war diary entry: WO95 - 1639-3_1
Trench Maps courtesy of the National Library of Scotland
The Keighlian Magazine of Keighley Boys Grammar School
Photographs by Andy Wade.
With particular thanks to David Underdown and Simon Bendry for their help in researching this man.