John Lawrence Myles was born on February 27th 1898 at 17 Ingliston Street, Edinburgh. His father Thomas Myles, a Private in the 18th Hussars, married Matilda McKellan on 11th November 1896. By the 1901 census John and his mother were still at 17 Ingliston Street together with his sister Francis aged 1. His father served in the Boer War with the 18th Hussars and died on 14th February 1902 at Tweefontein in the Transvaal.
On 14th January 1903 Matilda Myles got married again, to Robert McMurray of 118 Potterrow. By 1911 the family at 144 Dumbiedykes Road included John, his sister Francis and three children of the second marriage. On 19th January 1914 John enlisted in the Royal Scots Fusiliers under the name of McMurray, giving his age as 18 years and 46 days (in fact he was just under 16). His height was stated to be 5ft 5ins, weight 129lbs, eyes blue, hair brown and occupation baker. He was discharged on 4th February 1914 for having made a misstatement as to age on enlistment. His correct date of birth 27/2/1898 was duly noted in the military records.
Sometime after the start of WW1 on 4th August 1914, while still under the minimum age of 18, John enlisted at Leith in the 5th Cavalry Reserve Regiment, one of 17 cavalry reserve regiments created to train drafts for the regular cavalry. Many cavalry reservists, however, were soon converted to infantry and John was transferred to the 6th Battalion of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders under the name of John Myles, service number S/17831.
After training in Hampshire the 6th Battalion landed at Boulogne on 10th July 1915. It took part in the Battle of Loos in September and October, suffering heavy casualties. A published history of the 6th Battalion quotes from a letter dated 23rd October: We caught it hot this morning. On 26th October the battalion was inspected by the King and later returned to the trenches, often struggling with wet and mud: the kilt was an advantage in these conditions since it could be held up out of the way. At the end of October 1915 there was a limited issue of steel helmets, 50 per unit. In January 1916 the 6th Battalion moved to Hulluch where the trenches were better built.
At some point John Myles suffered gunshot wounds requiring amputation and evacuation. Septicaemia set in and he died on 24th May 1916 in North Evington Temporary Military Hospital, Billesdon, Leicestershire. His funeral on 29th May 1916 proceeded from his home at 17 Keir Street to Newington Cemetery. John Myles is one of 67 war dead named on the Screen Wall. He was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal, the British Medal and the 1915 Star. His mother was sent the balance of money due to him. She lived to be 87, dying in 1961.
John Myles was 18 years and 3 months old when he died.