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John McGirr was born in Blantyre, Lanarkshire on the 26th December 1890, one of six children of Agnes (née Thompson) and John McGirr, a joiner. McGirr attended The Glasgow School of Art from 1911 to 1914 as a part time student of architecture. During the First World War, McGirr served as a Lance Corporal in the Cameron Highlanders 7th battalion. This battalion was formed in Inverness and landed in Boulogne on the 9th of July 1915. It appears that McGirr may have been part of a Pals Battalion as he attended GSA on the same course and semesters as students such as Andrew McWilliam and Donald McLeod, who also fought in this battalion. He was killed in action on the 25th September 1915, aged 25, the same day as another GSA student and possible friend, James Drummond, also from this battalion. It is likely that McGirr died in the Battle of Loos which took place from the 25th of September to the 15th of October 1915. The 25th of September saw the first use of British poison gas which allowed them to access the first evacuated German trench. The soldiers were attacked by German grenades and were forced to retreat. A total of 950 men were lost that day. Some of the 7th battalion fell victim to this gas poisoning after they removed their helmets due to breathing difficulties. McGirr's memorial is located in Loos, France. McGirr is commemorated on The Glasgow School of Art's First World War, Roll of Honour.
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Sources: The National Archives: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/; Every Man Remembered: http://www.everymanremembered.org/profiles/soldier/734996/; Ancestry: http://www.ancestry.co.uk; The Long, Long Trail: http://www.1914-1918.net/cameron.htm; http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battles/battles-of-the-western-front-in-france-and-flanders/the-battle-of-loos/; Imperial War Museums: http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-pals-battalions-of-the-first-world-war