Pte James Barclay

Pte James A Barclay
Drumblade c1936


James Alexander Barclay was born at Turriff on 25th May 1914, the eldest son of John Barclay and Eleanor Smith. His father, a farm servant, was brought up on the family farm of Newton of Dunlugas, King Edward, his mother came from Turriff. John spent his working life in farm work on farms in the Turriff, Cornhill and Huntly areas. This accounts for the families connection with Kennethmont.

James had five brothers and six sisters and was known to his family and friends as Jim. On leaving school at 14 he too began in farm service. In 1932 his father was living and working at Claymires at Ordiquhill while Jim was working at nearby Auchip, Fordyce. It was from here that Jim joined the Regular Army c 1932. It is known that his seven years with the colours was due to end shortly after war was declared in Sept 1939.

The family were at Wraes, Wardhouse when they were advised that Jim was missing in 1942 having moved there from Kirkton Mill, Drumblade.

When his death was finally confirmed to his parents the family had moved to Braeside of Wartle.

His brothers Bill and Jake also saw war service. Taken prisoner with the 1st Gordons at St Valery in June 1940 Jake spent the duration as a POW.

His parents later moved to Kemnay.


John and Eleanor Barclay

John and Eleanor Barclay


Jim Barclay, Huntly c 1936
Jim Barclay, Huntly c 1936

Kranji Cemetery

Kranji War Cemetery Entrance

Selarang Barracks

2nd Gordons on Parade at Selarang Barracks c 1941


2nd Bn, Gordon Highlanders were posted to Gibralter in October 1936. They moved to Singapore and occupied the newly completed Selarang Barracks at Changi in March 1937 and had been in Singapore for nearly four years when war was declared.

They fought a heroic rearguard action as the Japanese invaders advanced steadily down the Malayan peninsula to The Johore Straits. Jim may have been wounded at this time and evacuated to hospital but it is more likely he was injured in the early stages of The Battle for Singapore which began on 8th Feb with the Gordons in defensive positions at Changi.

Following the surrender of Singapore Garrison on 15th February 1942 80,000 men, including Jim's comrades, became "Guests" of the Emperor of Japan and suffered terrible conditions and inhuman treatment by their captors in the many POW camps along the Siam - Burma "Railway of Death " in Thailand.



Singapore Hospital Grave

Singapore Civil Hospital Grave and Memorial


Jim Barclay died on 9th February 1942 (CWGC records) and is buried in a mass grave within the grounds of Singapore Civil Hospital. The servicemen in this grave are commemorated by name on The Hospital Grave Memorial. It is located on the terrace at the East side of The Singapore Memorial in Kranji War Cemetery. The Cemetery contains the graves of 4,465 service personel.


Singapore Hospital Grave c1947 & 2001
Move mouse over image to view the original cross

107 soldiers and 300 civilians were buried in the mass grave in the grounds of the Singapore General Hospital. The grave was originally an emergency water tank which had been dug in the hospital grounds. When Kranji War Cemetery was created in 1946, it was realised that it would be impossible to identify the individual servicemen in the mass grave, and the grave was left undisturbed.

94 British, 2 Australian, 5 Indian and 6 Malay Soldiers were buried here.

Most were victims of a massacre which took place at the Alexandra Military Hospital on 14th February when Japanese soldiers ran amok with rifles and bayonets within the facility, now Singapore General Hospital.

The 2nd Gordons Nominal Roll gives Pte Barclay's date of death as 14th Feb 1942 having been wounded by shrapnel on that date. One of his former 2 GH colleagues was shown his photo in 2005. He recognised him immediately and said his name. He also stated he was murdered in the hospital.

The Japanese had not advanced as far as the Alexandra Hospital on 9th Feb, they arrived there on the 14th.


Singapore Hospital Grave

Four Gordon Highlanders are buried together in the Hospital Grave:
L Cpl Roy Stewart Scott
Pte James A Barclay
Pte Thomas Cass
Pte James Forbes

Grave inscription

The commemorative plaque on the Hospital Cross

Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore

Kranji War Cemetery and Memorials
The Hospital Grave Memorial is to the right of The Memorial to the Missing

Click to view Kranji and Hospital Memorials


2GH Memorial, Singapore Presbyterian Church

The above plaque in Singapore Presbyterian Church is in Memory of 380 members of the 2nd Bn, Gordon Highlanders who died in the area and have no known grave.


Colour photographs in Singapore taken by and used with the kind permission of Peter W Stubbs.
April 2001
Selarang Barracks 1941 photo is used, Courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore

Family photographs by kind permission of his sister Adeline Cooper, Laurencekirk.
The asistance of his brother Bill and sister Daisy is also appreciated.

Click to view Krangi and Hospital Memorials