A NORTH Berwick man has travelled to France to visit the grave of his great uncle, who died a century ago in the First World War.

John Macgill laid a poppy at the grave of Captain William Lennox Tod – his grandmother’s brother – at Étaples Military Cemetery, near Boulogne, 100 years to the day after his death.

Captain Tod, of the 15th battalion of the Royal Scots, was severely wounded at Vimy Ridge on the first day of the Battle of Arras.

Surgeons at a base hospital at Camiers fought to save his life after having to amputate a leg, but he died from his injuries nearly three weeks later, on April 29, 1917, at the age of just 29.

Edinburgh-born Mr Tod had trained as an engineer and, after serving an apprenticeship, was appointed by Dunfermline Town Council as assistant engineer, responsible for town planning at Rosyth. He worked there for a year before volunteering for the Royal Scots when war broke out.

After nearly two years based at Edinburgh Castle training army scouts in bridge building and tree felling, he was posted to France.

During the Battle of the Somme in July 1916, he was the only officer of his company to survive, but was one of 18,000 Scots killed in the six-week Battle of Arras.

His Colonel later described Willie as “calm and cool at all times, especially in danger”, and “invariably cheery”.

John says he was pleased to have visited the grave.

He told the Courier: “The Étaples Military Cemetery, with its nearly 11,000 white gravestones, is a place of calm and remarkable beauty on a hillside looking out towards Britain. His grave lies between those of an officer in the Royal Artillery and a Gordon Highlander.

“I am very glad that I was able to visit his grave to honour his memory.”