Cpl Murdo Maciver

4th Gordon Highlanders

Corporal 1328, Murdo Maciver, the son of Alexander MacIver and his wife Catherine of 40, Coll Back, Stornoway. fisherman; born Coll, Stornoway, 3 June 1890; educated Back Public School and Nicolson Institute, Stornoway;

student in Arts, 1911 - 14, combining with attendance at the University his training for the teaching profession, until war broke off his studies. He put in his period of Territorial training with the Ross Mountain Battery during his secondary course at school, and on going to Aberdeen joined the University Company of the Gordon Highlanders, with which he was mobilized on the outbreak of war. After five months of training at Bedford he went to Flanders, where he took part with his Battalion in the very heavy fighting in front of Ypres through the early months of 1915. He was killed in action there during an advance against the enemy on 16 June 1915, when "our men behaved magnificently," and the Gordons covered themselves with glory.


From the diary of Sergeant Murdo Murray

Heard Murdie and George were killed hope to God not. D. Coy. went out to dig themselves in and to hold the wood to the left of Menin Road. It was here they got cut up in the communication trench. It was here, Murdie and George fell, I know, bravely. Fate in the case of George. He was wounded two nights ago and got the offer of going down the line. Though his arm was swollen he would not go. He would go into battle and die at his post. Fate cruel fate.

I wrote this on the 17th.

Roy Topping was wounded beside me and we carried him on our backs across communication trench to headquarters. As early as 10 a. m. our men, the Lincolns, began to retire. The Wilts were bombed out of the 3rd and 4th line. The German counter attack was awful. Shell after shell came pouring in death all round. The atmosphere was thick with smoke of all colours. Earth thrown up, the world dark. Behind, the sun serene and calm but red in sympathy. Our trench was enveloped in sulphur smoke and gas and stink from shells. The K.R.R. regiment and Shropshire came up but the others retired in panic. The second felt inclined to do the same.

A shell landed in the trench, blew it in and exploded our grenades killing two K.R.R.s. High explosive shrapnel flew all round. More gas. The wounded came streaming across the road, some with smashed minds, arms, legs, crawling along. Piteous scenes brave, plucky fellows. What blood.

I saw a captain (I think it must have been a captain) standing up on the road, shells falling thick all around, hazy in the smoke, heedless of fire, still giving commands. The whole place was an inferno. Dark. Still giving commands. The Coy still holding out pluckily. Well done. Stretcher bearers at work. Some of them funks. Calum Macleod and J. A. Macleod, Leodhas, did well. Stuck it in spite of fire and smoke. Lt. Clarke wounded. Met my platoon but alas! that George and Murdie should be silent forever on the field of the battle Murdo, the gentle and generous idealist, George the dreamy, fine, sensitive and noble spirit. Tears tribute to their memory.