Captain Alexander Murchison Maclean

Biography of Captain Alexander Murchison Maclean

Alexander Murchison Maclean, who was a young airman on a reconnaissance mission when he died, was a man of action from the very beginning. The second son of Professor Magnus Maclean, he was educated at Hillhead High School, where, in addition to making a lot of friends, he excelled at all sports, especially swimming. After he left school he joined the firm of Gellatly, Hankey & Co, where at just nineteen years old he was appointed cashier. He continued to play rugby for the Former Pupils, and joined the University OTC. In June 1912 he joined the firm of Messrs Balfour, Williamson & Co, where he was rapidly promoted and posted to an important position with the firm in Coronel, Chile.

When the war began, he was determined to enlist, but had to go to quite unusual lengths to do so. Enemy warships were known to be cruising in Chilean waters, and it was impossible to book a passage home. Along with two companions he attempted to get a train across the continent to Santiago, but that route was also closed because of heavy snowfalls. Undeterred, and with the help of guides, the three young men made the perilous journey over the Andes on mule back. There they boarded a train for Buenos Ayres, and made their way at last to London. He was at once commissioned to the Scottish Horse, and was posted to Egypt and Gallipoli. For his part at Gallipoli, Brigadier-General Tullibardine recommended him for a Military Cross (MC) and wrote to him, 'I would like you to know how much I appreciate you good work for the Brigade.'

Later he was seconded for duty with the Black Watch at Salonica, and in 1916 transferred to the Royal Air Force, with which he served in Egypt and France. On 12th April 1918, at the time when the Germans made their critical push towards the Channel ports, he was sent on a low reconnaissance mission over the battle front. He never returned. For a long time it was hoped that he might be a prisoner of war in Germany, but in September 1919 the Air Ministry regretfully announce that they must presume his death. Gallant Captain Maclean is commemorated at the Arras Flying Service Memorial, the date of death recorded as 12th April 1918. He was twenty-six.


Captain Alexander Murchison Maclean
Rank: Captain
Regiment: Scottish Horse - Royal Air Force
Degree: N/A
Awards: N/A
Comments: Killed in action. Member of University of Glasgow OTC
Note/Press Clipping: N/A
Photo ID: N/A


Obituary: Hillhead High School Memorial Volume (War Memorial Committee, 1921)

Place of Commemoration Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour Register

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