The story of a soldier who lost two brothers and a sister in the first World War and was dumped alive on a pile of bodies can be told for the first time after his medals were put up for auction.
Major Robert Collie’s brothers William and John both died on the Western Front, and his sister was killed during a Zeppelin bombing raid in London.
Maj Colne escaped death on more one occasion. He survived the first day of the Somme, when 20,000 British troops were killed, and fought at Ypres. During the Battle of Passchendale, he was shot in the stomach. His apparently lifeless body was thrown on a heap of corpses before a passing doctor noticed him twitch, pulled him dear and treated him.
Maj Collie recovered from his wounds, and within a year was back fighting.
He suffered further loss with the early death of his first wife, Ida, 15 years later.
The army officer, who rose through the ranks from private to major, was awarded the MBE between the wars for pulling a man out of a house fire in Calcutta. It was also there that he met his second wife Kathleen, a children’s nurse, in 1937.
His story emerged after his son, Robert, placed his medals up for auction.
Mr Collie, 75, from Eastbourne, East Sussex, said; „My. father was a tough Scotsman and not a lot fazed him. But the loss of his elder and younger brother and sister hi such a short space of time must have been a terrible thing to endure.“ The Collies were from Dufftown, Banffshire, and were the children of a stulman for the Glenlivet Distillery.
In the Second World War, Maj Collie ran an Italian prisoner oi war camp at Dehradun in India.
His medal set; valued at £1,200 by Eastbourne Auctions, comprises an MBE, 1914 Star, 1914-18 War medal. Victory medal, 1939-45 Star, Burma Star, World War II War medal, 1939-45 India medal • 1935 and 1937 Commemorative medals. George IV and Queen Elizabeth Coronation medal, George V Long Service medal, George V Meritorious Service meda.
Poems written by the bereaved families of British soldiers killed in the first World War and published in newspapers beside their death notices have been unearthed. The tributes „bring home the pain and sorrow“ experienced by those left behind, said Myko Clelland a researcher at Genes Reunited. the web-site, which has found scores verses.