Mackay Mackay was born in Skinnet Melness in 1890, the son of Robert Mackay of Skinnet Melness and Janet Gunn. They were married in 1885 in Tongue. He emigrated to Canada joining the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at Winnipeg, enlisting into the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry as a Regimental Policeman, at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.
In April 1915, the P.P.C.L.I. was involved in the 2 Battle of Ypres, fighting around the villages of Gravenstafel and St Julian, then on the Bellewaarde Ridge. Mackay Mackay was severely wounded in the head during the heavy fighting on the Bellewaarde Ridge, which is near Westhoek, East of Ypres.
A memorial to the Regiment is located on the trench line today, a maple tree erected inside a stone seat unveiled in 1958. The inscription on the memorial says “ Here on the 8 of May 1915, stood the originals of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, commanded by their founder Major A Hamilton Gault DSO and counted not the cost.”
Mackay Mackay was evacuated to Guy’s hospital in London, to be treated for his injuries. When he had recovered and was fit once more, he transferred to the Canadian Army Pay Corps where he received a commission.
He came home to Melness on leave about the 24 of November 1917, whilst on leave he told his family that he was going to volunteer for service at the front once more. The night before he left Melness he went around all his friends to say good-bye, as he did this he gave all the men whisky and the ladies chocolates. Once he had completed his officer training, he returned to the P.P.C.L.I in France to fight at the front.
The year 1918 was the beginning of the end for the Germans, three massive attacks in March had failed and now unable to sustain heavy losses were forced to retreat. The British counter-attacked in August and the tide at last began to turn, Allied units attacking over the old Somme battlefields and at Amiens.
Lieutenant Mackay Mackay was severely wounded in the chest as the Allies attacked the enemy lines East of Amiens. His unit was attacking the German held village of Parvillers as they advanced alongside the Australians and Whippet light tanks, the axis of the attack was the Amiens to Roye road. He was evacuated to a field hospital at Ligny St Flochal about 24 kilometers west of Arras close to the town of St Pol. He died from his wounds in hospital, aged 28 years.
At the end of the First World War on the 11 of November 1918, there were only thirty-four original members of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry who arrived in France in 1914 left fit for active service. This figure gives some scale of the losses suffered by the British and Canadian forces in the trenches during the Great War.
SCOTTISH NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL EDINBURGH CASTLE No entry found. This may be due to the fact that Mackay Mackay may have had to take Canadian citizenship to enable him to join the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Scottish National War Memorial only contains the name of men with Scottish nationality at time of death.
COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION Mackay Lieutenant Mackay, P.P.C.L.I. (Eastern Ontario Regiment). Died of wounds 27 Aug. 1918. Age 28. Son of Robert and Janet Mackay of Skinnet, Melness, Tongue, Sutherland. Plot 2. Row E. Grave 18.
Lieutenant Mackay Mackay 579, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry is buried in war grave at LIGNY ST FLOCHEL, BRITISH CEMETERY, PAS DE CALAIS, FRANCE.