Captain, King's Own Scottish Borderers
Born: February 26th 1888
Died: May 19th 1917

Age at Death: 29

Killed in action, nr. Arras, France, May 19th 1917

Grave reference: IC2 Roclincourt Military Cemetery.

Headstone Inscription: The lads that will die in their glory and never be old.
Placed by Mrs Jean Ainslie.

BC register - Son of A. Ainslie of Chinese Imperial Customs.


Family History
Son of Mr. and Mrs. Archibald Ainslie, of Dolphinton, Launceston, Tasmania; husband of Jean Blanche Ainslie.

John Archibald Ainslie was born in Hanwell, Middlesex, United Kingdom in 1888 to Margaret and Archibald Ainslie.
Sister: Ada Mary Ainslie was born 1883
Sister: May Ainslie was born 1885
Brother: Adolphus J Ainslie was born 1891
Source: England & Wales births 1837-2006 Transcription

John Archibald Ainslie married Jean Blanche Stewart-Wilson of Gomm's Wood, Knotty Green, Beaconsfield, Bucks, England in 1916. They were married at St Peter's Yateley.
John Archibald Ainslie's Son, John Archibald Ainslie was born in 1917
Source: England & Wales births 1837-2006 Transcription

Captain John Archibald Ainslie (Hampden House 1904)
John Ainslie was born in Hanwell on February 26th 1888. He was the elder son and fourth child of Archibald Ainslie, a British representative with the Chinese Imperial Customs Service and his wife Margaret (nee Murphy). The family had recently settled back in Britain after living in Australia, where Ainslie’s parents were married and China, where two of Ainslie’s older sisters were born. However they now lived in Tunbridge Wells and, later, Brighton when Ainslie was a pupil at the College. It is unknown what Ainslie did between leaving school but in 1911 he received a commission in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and was posted to Ranikhet, India as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers. While in India he met Jean Blanche Stewart-Wilson, the daughter of Sir Charles Stewart-Wilson an official in the Indian Civil Service based in Bombay. The Wilson family later returned to live in Yateley Manor, Hampshire, England. On the outbreak of war Ainslie’s battalion returned to Europe and initially fought at Gallipoli after which Ainslie came to Britain on leave and married Jean Stewart Wilson in February 1916. In words attributed to Hetty Cumnor, a parlour maid in the Stewart Wilson household:

‘In the Edwardian and Durbar carefree days, the British Raj was still in its heyday…a young Lieutenant and the young daughter of Sir Charles…fell in love with each other. Sir Charles held an important position in the Bombay Presidency and his parents thought their daughter too young but said if the lovers were of the same mind after a certain period permission would be given…[After] the First World War had begun the lovers were still of the same mind [so] they were married.’

Following the marriage Ainslie was posted to the Western Front and fought in the Battle of the Somme before being killed by enemy shellfire during the later stages of the Battle of Arras on May 19th 1917. He was posthumously promoted to Captain on the same day, possibly as a kind gesture by his commanding officers to increase the size of pension available to his widow. Hetty Cumnor also recalled his young wife’s reaction to the return of his belongings:

‘When his belongings were sent home from the war with the filth and gore of the trenches the young lady took them up to her bedroom and shut the door. After some time had passed the parents became worried and opened the door. She had fallen asleep with her arms clasped around his [Ainslie’s] coat. She was carrying his child, I believe’

Ainslie’s grave is in Roclincourt, Military Cemetery, France. His son, also called John Archibald, was born a few months after his death.

Source: LEST WE FORGET Project, Brighton College 2014-15