Glasgow City Council

Centenary stone laid in memory of valour of Glaswegian VC hero

Published: 12 April, 2017.

Lt Mackintosh

Glaswegian war hero Lieutenant Donald Mackintosh, who received a posthumous Victoria Cross, has been remembered at a special ceremony to mark the centenary of his death

Glasgow's Lord Provost Sadie Docherty honoured the valour of Lt. Mackintosh with the unveiling of WW1 VC paving stone next to the Glasgow Academy War Memorial on Great Western Road.

The Seaforth Highlander was described by one of his sergeants as: "... the bravest officer who ever led men into action." He received the Victoria Cross, the British Armed Forces' highest award for gallantry, after reports recounted how, at the age of 21 years, Lt. Mackintosh sacrificed his life to save his men.

The former Glasgow Academy pupil, was the only son of Col. Donald James Mackintosh and his wife, Margaret. He had a younger sister Anna and they were brought up in Western Infirmary House at the Western Infirmary. His father was the teaching hospital's Medical Superintendent.

His nephew, Donald Blair (80), the son of Anna, attended the poignant ceremony with his wife Ros, daughters Louise MacDonald and Rachel Marsden and her children Jenny (7) and James (6).

Donald said: "Of course I am very proud. However, we are not only remembering my uncle but all his comrades that died with him in that terrible battle and all those from the Seaforth Highlanders and their successor regiments who gave their lives in that war and all subsequent wars. At the same time we remember the many former pupils from Glasgow Academy who made the ultimate sacrifice."

He recalled how the family came across a cache of letters that had been sent to his grandparents following their son's death.

He said: "My grandparents and my mother found it very difficult to talk about this earth -shattering event in their lives. My grandfather, a distinguished medical man, threw himself into his work to distract his attention after the death of his only son.

"It is with a sense of humility that I witnessed the laying of this paving stone after 100 years. It will serve as a continuing symbol of remembrance."

Major General Mark Strudwick, currently chair of the Trustees of the Scottish National War Memorial, also attended the ceremony and presented a certificate to the family giving details of Donald Mackintosh's service.

This is the sixth in a series of WW1 VC paving stones to be laid in the city. There are four at the People's Palace and one within the University Chapel of the University of Glasgow.

They will serve as a permanent reminder of the bravery of Glaswegian servicemen awarded the Victoria Cross during the Great War as part of continuing centenary events across the country.

Mackintosh's citation for the Victoria Cross reads: "For most conspicuous bravery and resolution in the face of intense machine gun fire. .... The gallantry and devotion to duty of this officer were beyond all praise."

The Lord Provost said: "It was a huge privilege to be part of remembrance for Lieutenant Mackintosh. He showed extraordinary courage and saved the lives of many of his men.

"One hundred years ago his heroism was very well documented by the media in our city and beyond. By unveiling this commemorative paving stone we will ensure his story is remembered.

"I am particularly that as First Citizen I had opportunity to express the city's gratitude and my own to the family of Lieutenant Mackintosh for his remarkable bravery."

It was two days into the Arras campaign in France in 1917. Mackintosh had been leading his men, in an advance on enemy lines in the first Battle of the Scarpe when he sustained crippling gun-shot wounds under a hail of machine-gun fire and shelling.

Mackintosh's leadership and valour enabled his company to successfully capture an enemy trench. He then collected leaderless men from another company and drove back a counter-attack during which he was, again, wounded.

Unable to stand, he continued to lead the remaining 15 men. Ordering them to be ready to advance to the final objective and, with great difficulty, got out of the trench and encouraged his men to advance. He was again wounded and fell.

A sergeant of his regiment told the Scotsman newspaper: "Lieutenant Mackintosh was the bravest officer who ever led men into action. Had it not been for his bravery and self-sacrifice under great difficulty we would have been completely wiped out that day. As soon as we went over it began to rain shells, and as for machine gun bullets there were enough to give every man of us around a dozen and still leave plenty for the next comers."

Mackintosh's education, following Glasgow Academy, continued at St Ninian's Prep School in Moffat and latterly at Fettes College, Edinburgh. He was embarking on private study when the First World War broke out.

He immediately volunteered with the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) on 14 August 1914 and became an acting sergeant. He was commissioned on 12 February 1915 and joined the Seaforth Highlanders. Then almost a year later, was promoted to a full Lieutenant.

His medal can be viewed at the Highlander's Museum at Fort George  , near Inverness. Mackintosh is also commemorated in a war memorial in France as well as at Fettes College. In addition two windows in honour of him and his father Col Mackintosh were unveiled in the Elder Memorial Chapel of the Western Infirmary on December 1925. A third window was unveiled a year later.

He is buried in Brown's Copse Cemetery, Roeux, France.

Pic shows: Donald Blair with a portrait of his uncle Lt. Donald Mackintosh by the Glasgow Academy War Memorial.

Published: 12 April, 2017.

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