Roll of Honour
Robert Lindsay Mackay
Military Cross and Bar
Robert Lindsay Mackay was born on 30th July 1896 in Hillhead, Glasgow, Scotland. His father, George, was a woollen buyer for a warehouse and the family lived at 9 Strathmore Gardens. Robert matriculated at the University of Glasgow in 1914, though his classes in Mathematics, Natural Philosphy and Chemistry were at the Royal College of Technology. He joined the OTC. His studies were interrupted, however, by the outbreak of war and he enlisted. During the First World War, he served in the 11th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, holding the posts of Signalling Officer, Assistant Adjutant, and Platoon Officer, and achieving the rank of Lieutenant. What follows is a brief summary of his army career taken from his war diaries:
On 4th September 1916, he was recalled from leave, and joined the 11th Service Battalion the Argylls on 13th September 1916, at the Somme front, in the area of Martinpuich and Becourt. Here he experienced heavy fighting and a gas attack. In early 1917, the battalion was moved to the area around Arras, where it took part in the Arras offensive (April 1917), and was involved in the battle for Guemappe and Monachy (23rd April). In June 1917 the battalion moved to St Omer, Belgium in preparation for the Ypres offensive. Mackay was appointed Assistant Adjutant.
The Battalion was moved to The Ecole for the start of the Ypres offensive, and was involved in heavy fighting. During this period Mackay served as a stretcher bearer with the RAMC, and experienced heavy fighting, particularly on the failed attack against the German held positions at Beck house and Burry farm. At the end of August the Battalion was moved back to the Arras front and Mackay received leave, during which he visited Glasgow (October 1917), returning to Arras on 17th October. In late 1917 he attended the XVII Corps school on signalling. On 21st March 1918 the German offensive began, and he was involved in maintaining and repairing communications and defences, often while under heavy German artillery fire.
On 10 June 1918, the 11th battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders was absorbed into the 1st/8th Argylls, Mackay continued as Assistant Adjutant in the line in the 8th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. On 19th June, he was struck down with a case of trench fever, and was sent to the 23rd Clearing Station, at Ligny near St Pol for treatment, returning to the Battalion on the 27th June. On 15th July, the Battalion was moved to Champagne and participated in the battle at Berzy-le-sec.
On 18th August 1918, Mackay attended the army school for company commanders at Hardelot. He resumed his duties as Battalion signalling officer in September 1918. He also served as acting Adjutant on the front line at Loos and Hullych, in time for the German retreat, on 1st October 1918. He visited London on leave from the 24th October to 10th November 1918, and was on his way back to rejoin the Battalion when he heard news of the armistice, 11th November 1918.
He was a gallant soldier, and won the Military Cross (MC) with bar. As a Signalling Officer he volunteered to go forward after being left without company officers. He reorganised his men and pressed on to meet a threatened attack, only withdrawing when ordered to do so. His Military Cross (MC) was gazetted on 18th October 1917. In October 1918 his gallantry was recognised again, when, under heavy shelling and with communication lines broken, he undertook an intelligence foray on his own and was able to bring back valuable information.
After the war, Mackay returned to Glasgow and attended the University of Glasgow. Perhaps because of his experience in the war, he decided to become a Doctor and matriculated in Science and Medicine. He was a good student, passed his exams comfortably and graduated BSc in 1921, MB ChB in 1923. He gained an MD in 1927 and DPH Ed in 1928. He subsequently became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Edinburgh and of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow.
He was a House Physician and House Surgeon at the Western Infirmary, Glasgow and then Physician at the Royal Hospital Wolverhampton and Guest Hospital, Dudley, England. He became a consultant at the Royal Hospital, Wolverhampton. During the Second World War he served his country again, this time as a Lieutenant Colonel in the RAMC. He died in 1981. He was survived by his wife, fellow Glasgow graduate Margaret McLellan, and their children.
Comments and Citations
University of Glasgow Registry, Faculty and General Council Records
University of Glasgow Roll of Honour Records (GUAS Ref: CH 4/4/2/3/1136)
The Papers of Robert Lindsay Mackay, Introduction, University of Glasgow Archives (<