Captain Maximillian Macpherson

Biography of Captain Maximillian Macpherson

Maximillian Macpherson was born on the 13th February 1894, the second son of Alexander, who came originally from Banffshire, and Margaret, from Edinburgh. His father was an Accountant who spent much of his working life in South Africa and subsequently emigrated there, though Margaret and her sons returned to the parish of Inverkip, Renfrewshire. Maximillian was educated for a time at Bloemfontain, in South Africa, and later at Greenock High School.

After school he served an apprenticeship in Civil and Mining Engineering with Rankin and Sons, attending evening classes at the Royal Technical College, forerunner of the University of Strathclyde, from 1910 to 1913. In session 1911-1912, he earned a 2nd Class Certificate of Merit in Coal Mining. Maximillian was an active member of the University's Officers' Training Corps. His commanding officer, Captain E. P. Cathcart, confirmed that he was ‘returned efficient’ in the years from 1912 to 1914 and recommended him for the commission in the Special Reserves for which he had applied on the eve of the war.

It was a mark of his eagerness to serve his country that Maximillian joined the Seaforth Highlanders as a 2nd Lieutenant right away in August 1914. He served in France with the 2nd Bn. Seaforths and was wounded on the 9th April 1915. He wrote of this event to his mother, who was living in Largs. The wound healed and he returned to service after having it treated first in a Red Cross Hospital and then in a General Hospital at Le Treport on the Channel coast south of the Somme estuary.

On the 22nd September he was seconded to serve with the Royal Engineers, though he later returned to his Regiment. He was a fine soldier, promoted to Captain and Mentioned in Despatches for his valour in Sir Douglas Haig’s despatches of the 25th June 1917. His personal life promised happiness. The 25 year old Captain married Lucy Crawshaw at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Glasgow, on the 14th August 1917. He would not have time to spend with his new wife, however. His regiment was in Flanders in the autumn and the build-up to Passchendaele began.

Captain Macpherson’s company went into action on the 4th October. It was a day of very heavy rainfall, but despite the conditions, Haig’s plan for a ‘bite and hold’ attack, put into effect at the Battle of Broodseinde, near Poelcapelle was one of the most successful of the campaign and inflicted a blow to the morale of the 4th German army. Nine Victoria Crosses were awarded for heroism that day.

Just as Maximillian’s men were about to reach their objective to push the Germans back from a ridge overlooking the village, he was wounded in the leg. His life did not appear to be in great danger but as he was being stretchered off a bullet passed through his head. Captain Maximillian Macpherson is buried in Tyne Cot Cemetery and commemorated on the war memorial of Greenock High School, on the Roll of Honour of the Royal Technical College of Glasgow, and on South Africa’s Roll of Honour.


Captain Maximillian Macpherson
Rank: Captain
Regiment: 3rd Bn. (Spec. Res.) attd. 2nd Bn. Seaforth Highlanders
Degree: N/A
Awards: Mentioned in Despatches
Comments: Killed in action, 4 October 1917.
Note/Press Clipping: Ch 4/4/2/3/341, 1109
Photo ID: Ch 4/4/2/2/175


University of Glasgow Roll of Honour (Ref: Ch 4/4/2/3/341,1109).

Biographical information: Records of the Glasgow Provincial Training College, forerunner of Jordanhill College of Education - now the University of Strathclyde). Information provided by Dr Anne Cameron, Archives Assistant, University of Strathclyde Archives.

Inverclyde’s Great War, contribution by Douglas Hamilton.

London Gazette 21st August 1914.

Burial Place: Commonwealth War Graves Commission - Find War Dead

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