Magnus Dundas Macleod was born in Tongue, son of Eric Macleod of Hyshbackie, Tongue and Mary Jane Dundas (from Melvich) They were married in 1895 in Edinburgh. In the 1911 Census Magnus is shown at home with his widowed mother Mary as well as his paternal grandmother and his brothers and sisters. He enlisted into the Army at the outbreak of war joining the 8 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders at Fort George near Inverness, to begin his military training. Once the battalion had completed its basic training it was sent to Aldershot in Hampshire in November 1914, to join the 44 Brigade, 15 (Scottish) Division.
The 15(Scottish) Division landed in France in July 1915 and after training was allocated trench-holding duties. On the 25 of September the division was moved into line in northern France to take part in the Battle of Loos.
This was to be the greatest offensive of the war so far; the British plan was to thrust against the German line between the villages of Loos and Lens. The plan called for the use of six Divisions in the main assault, with a further three Divisions in reserve ready to move forward and exploit any gap in the enemy line.
At 5:15am on the 25 of September 1915 the 8 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders launched a chlorine gas attack on the enemy lines and then fixed bayonets and attacked the enemy lines at 5:50am. The gas however failed to reach the enemy trenches, due to a change in the wind direction and many of the Highlanders were gassed by their own gas attack.
The Seaforths attacked Hill 70 and Loos village, where they were piped into action by the Battalion Pipers (See also William D Mackay, Skerray). Once the objectives were taken the battalion tried to push on past Hill 70, coming under fire from untouched German trenches and was forced to pull back. Trenches were then dug on the rear slope of the hill; as they did this the Germans began launching fierce counter attacks. The 8 Seaforths had taken all their objectives, but were unable to hold the new line without reinforcements and had to retire.
The 8 Seaforths began the attack on Loos with twenty-one officers and seven hundred and thirty-five other ranks, when the battalion returned to Mazingarbe on the 26 of September only two officers and thirty five men were left fit for duty after two days fighting. The battalion was withdrawn to Houchin, then moved to Lillers to refit and train new recruits, during this time Magnus Macleod was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal.
On the 25 of April 1916 the 8 Seaforth Highlanders returned to the trenches in the Loos area, entering the town of Bethune and being billeted in a Tobacco Factory. The battalion entered the front line again, as the Quarry Section Brigade Support on the 26 of April, near the village of Vermelles. The battalion was responsible for the front line in front of Vermelles village, close to the present day road (D947) from Lens to La Bassee.
The battalion arrived in the front to carry out routine trench duties, improve the dugouts and be prepared to deal with any German attacks or trench raids. Soldiers carried out most of the work at night, trying to sleep during the day but this was usually impossible due to gas attacks and heavy shelling.
On the 1 of May 1916 the 8 Seaforths began to harass the enemy front, launching mortar bombardments and probing attacks. These attacks continued for the next week with daily battles taking place between the Highlanders and the German defenders, many men were killed and wounded on both sides.
Lance Corporal Magnus Macleod was killed in action by a shell in Ben Nevis Trench Crater, at 5am on the 10 of May 1916; he was 20 years of age. His body was not found after the fighting was over, the same shell injured 6 other soldiers, they mainly suffered crush type injuries. Magnus Macleod’s older brother Eric fought with the Canadian Forces during World War One; he survived the war and returned home.