DRIVER ROBERT ALEXANDER DUFF
ARMY SERVICE CORPS
30TH JANUARY 1918 AGE 25
BURIED: MERVILLE COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION, FRANCE
Robert Alexander Duff was born and brought up on a farm in Ballinluig a small community in Perthshire, close to the confluence of the rivers Tummel and Tay, just as his father, Duncan Duff, said on his inscription. It's a beautiful part of the world with its pastures and woodlands and distant mountains, all evoked very simply by just the two words Tummel and Tay.
Duff appears to have been mobilised on the outbreak of war, which would indicate that he was either a territorial or a regular soldier. However, he was discharged as medically unfit one month later. Nothing daunted, he re-enlisted in the Army Service Corps and served with the 3rd Army Auxiliary Horse Transport Company in France and Flanders from 4 September 1915.
At some point he volunteered as an observer with the Royal Flying Corps and was attached to 22nd Squadron based at Auchel. On 30 January 1918 Duff, with the pilot Second Lieutenant Godfrey Gleeson Johnstone a New Zealander, were on an offensive patrol when their plane was seen to fall in flames during aerial combat. Reports say that, Duff, without any flying training, tried to bring the plane down on the allied side but the plane crashed and he died soon afterwards from burns and injuries.
Whilst Duff's inscription evokes his home in Scotland, the pilot's ties him to the land of his birth:
Born Motuotaraia, Hawkes Bay