Kenneth Mackay was born in Melness in 1884,son of Williamina Mackay, she had 2 other children Marion born in 1881 and John born in 1887. The 1891 Census shows the family living in Melness but on the 1901 Census Kenneth is shown as living in Thurso where he is employed as a "horseman in a quarry" Kenneth enlisted into the Army in Thurso as a boy soldier at the age of sixteen, once he had completed his military training he was sent to the 2 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders. The 2 Battalion was stationed at Shorncliffe in England as part of the 10 Brigade, 4 Division.
The battalion was mobilised at 6:30pm on the 4 of August 1914, war was officially declared on Germany four and a half-hours later at 11pm. The 2 Seaforths were immediately warned to prepare to go overseas, as part of the British Expeditionary Force that was being formed in southern England.
The B.E.F. landed in France with the 2 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders landing at Boulogne on the 23 of August. The battalion was quickly moved up to the front, in two days reaching a position south-east of Mons in Belgium, they were only in this position for a short time when heavy shelling forced them to withdraw. During the retreat of the next 14 days, the 2 Seaforths marched one hundred and thirty-four miles whilst acting as the B.E.F. rearguard. On the 26 of August the British 4 Division paused near the Belgian town of Le Cateau and had a brief but bloody fight with the German advance guard. The ground could not however be held, due to the French on the right flank giving ground to relentless enemy attacks, the British were then forced to retire once again.
On August the 30, the 2 Battalion took part in the long march from Noyan to Genancourt, through the Forest of Champagne to Baron, arriving in Baron on the 1 of September. The battalion was then moved to Dammartin on September 2, Bois de Chigney on the 3 and finally to Chevry on the 5.
The retreat was now over as the British and French Armies held the German invaders from the 7 to the 10 of September at the Battle of the River Marne. The Germans, now at the end of long supply lines were forced to retreat back the way they had come. The 2 Battalion became involved in the fighting at the River Aisne from the 12 to 15 of September.
German forces then turned north towards the English Channel and the British Army became involved in the ‘race to the sea’. The German aim was to cut the B.E.F. off from its ports and supply lines, then destroy it and sweep onwards toward Paris.
The British chased the Germans North finally meeting in action close to the Belgian Border, the battle lines of the next four years were now beginning to form. The British were now close to the Flanders region of Belgium and the town of Ypres, an area that would become infamous in military history.
At 2:50pm on the 13 of October 1914 the 2 Seaforths attacked and captured the village of Meteren at bayonet point, alongside the 2 Battalion Dublin Fusiliers. The attack was made in the face of heavy machine gun fire; most of the Seaforth casualties were caused by a machine-gun located inside a church tower.
Private Kenneth Mackay was killed in action during this attack; he was the first man from the parish of Tongue to fall in World War One. Total Seaforth casualties at Meteren were four officers wounded, eighteen other ranks killed and sixty-six were wounded, one man was reported missing.