Sunday, 7 October 2012

Wrong Island

From the book "The Journal of Private Fraser", edited by Reginald H. Roy (ISBN 1-896979-28-9), published by CEF Books, PO Box 29123, Nepean, Ont. K2J4A9.

Page 179
Sunday 23 July 1916

We spent a very quiet time in the trenches. Cpl Matthews of the Scouts was wounded. Donald Mcleod, who transferred to the Stokes Gun, was severely wounded and I heard died later in Blighty. It was reported that a curious mix-up resulted in his burial. We had two Donald Macleods in the Company, the other Macleod being a native of one of the islands of Uist in the Outer Hebrides. His body was forwarded to this out-of-the-way island for interment in the local churchyard and advice sent to his supposed relatives. The body arrived, but apparently, the relations had recent word from Donald Macleod No 2 and so refused to take charge of the remains. The lid was unscrewed and the mistake found out. After lying around for about a week, "Big Don" was lulled to sleep in the island within roar of the mighty Atlantic. Though he spent practically all his life time in Canada, his birth place was the island of Lewis, so his final resting place was a fitting for a scion of the race of Torquil.


Of course, Benbecula is not exactly near Lewis (in fact 60 miles away). Big Don was not a misnomer by any means; his attestation papers put his height at 5 ft 11 in, larger than average in those years. I am trying to find out whereabouts he was from in Lewis, but the usual problem has reared its head: there are so many men named Donald Macleod in that island.

Donald Mcleod
Date of birth: 9 June 1888
Place of birth: Isle of Lewis
Height: 5 ft 11 in
Complexion: Dark
Eyes: Grey
Hair: Brown
Religion: Presbyterian
Trade / occupation: Miner
Last address in Lewis: Stornoway

Not married

Military unit: Canadians
Service number: 79110
Volunteered at Calgary on 16 November 1914

Date of death: 4 August 1916
Interred: Nunton Cemetery, Benbecula. 


  1. I think this mixup may have involved my grandfather, Donald McLeod, who was originally from Benbecula. He was in World War 1, was wounded but did not pass away until 1952, at Mather, Manitoba, Canada.

    1. I hope this reaches you ("k"), as one of the Lewis historical societies is currently researching this, having established who the Lewis Donald Macleod was.