This is a picture of Private Simon Forbes of the Highland Light Infantry taken in Deal, Kent during the First World War. As you can see the photo was taken at 119 High Street, Deal. Like many servicemen he would have sent this photo home as a keepsake for his family.
Simon’s service number (333379) suggests he served with 21st Bn Highland Light Infantry, which was based in Deal for much of 1917 and 1918. In poor health at the start of conscription, he was placed in the 21st Battalion HLI, which was UK based battalion, although many of its soldiers ended up serving on the Western Front, including Simon.
At some point in during 1917 or 1918 Simon was posted abroad and ended up serving with the 10th Battalion HLI in Flanders until the end of the war. One unexplained anomaly with the photo is that he is wearing the uniform of the 1/9th HLI, which was the only active HLI Bn to wear this kilt, which uses the government tartan. Whether Simon ever joined the 1/9th is likely to remain a mystery, although soldiers were often moved between battalions.
Simon survived the war as did his two elder brothers, William who served in Gallipoli with the 1/1st Scottish Horse Battalion and Richard who served on the Western Front with the 5th Battalion Scottish Rifles. It must have been a worrying time for his parents.
Simon returned home, worked as clerk for Glasgow City Council and was a founder of the Glasgow Ramblers, through which he met his future wife Mary. They had two daughters, Susan and Rosemary.
Photo and Story courtesy of Stephen Johnson (One of Simon’s Grandsons)