Sunday, 7 November 2010

Gamekeeper's son - WW1

Duncan Macdonald was 19 when he was killed to the east of Arras, in April 1917. It took a while for his death to be confirmed; it was not until British forces captured the territory where he was lost that they found his remains. Taking his personal effects with them, the British buried him near Fampoux.

Duncan was on my list, but only knowing that he was with the Seaforth Highlanders did not help matters much; nor the fact that his entry on the War Graves register only gives an initial "D", rather than his full name. The soldier was the son of a gamekeeper, and the article in the Stornoway Gazette that pointed me in his direction mentions the fact that his parents lived at Scaliscro, the shooting lodge some 25 miles west of Stornoway. Duncan's birth, which occurred on 5 March 1896, took place at Ath Linne, a hamlet on the Lewis Harris border some 20 miles south of Stornoway. The entry on the War Graves register refers to his parents living at Gress Lodge, 9 miles north of the town.

The chaplain wrote the message to Murdo and Helen Macdonald that their son Duncan had been lost:

[...] He must have been killed on 11th April. The ground where he fell has recently been won from the enemy. His body has been found and buried. We do not yet know which troops have found and buried our dead, nor do we know exactly where their graves are, but it must be somewhere just to the front of Fampoux, to the east of Arras.

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