November’s Object of the Month continues the theme of the First World War with the watch of Captain Percy Lionel Moubray. Unfortunately Captain PL Moubray was killed in action on the 29th October 1914 at the First Battle of Ypres whilst serving with the 1st Battalion The Black Watch. He died whilst Captaining either B or C Company, which were charged with defending the Menin Road, which was the entry way to Ypres. It was recognised that if the Allies were to lose the Menin Road, then they would also lose Ypres, which would result in the loss of the war, as the British would lose access to their supply lines.
Heavy losses were suffered by The Black Watch at the Menin Road on the 29th, as the Germans attacked their position with great strength. Only a few men of B and C companies were able to rejoin Battalion Headquarters near Polderhoek Chateau, but they were mostly wounded. The Battalion’s losses for the day amounted to 5 officers (including Capt PL Moubray) and 250 men.
The watch has the Black Watch insignia – a star with St. Andrew on the cross – engraved on the back and the front has been inscribed with “FORTITUDE” and “LET THE DEED SHAW”. It was kindly later returned to the Moubray family by the German Government, as the death of its owner was early enough into the First World War that personal items were still being returned in a gentlemanly manner. The watch is now on display in the First World War Gallery at Balhousie Castle and is a poignant reminder of the personal costs of the war.