William Mackay was born in Portrush, County Antrim in Northern Ireland, son of Mr Neil Mackay of 66 Nelson Street, South Side, Glasgow. Mr Neil Mackay was the brother of Alexander Mackay from High Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire and Mrs Fairlie Mackay, Achtoty Skerray; William was the first cousin of Murdo and Alexander Mackay who both appear on Skerray War Memorial and nephew to Mrs Fairlie Mackay.
William enlisted in the Army in Tongue in November 1914, alongside Peter Burr (6537) from Dunvarrich and Magnus Mackay (6531) from Scullomie. Their regimental military numbers are so close; they must have stood together in the queue to enlist.
He carried out his training at the 13 (Depot) Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, once his training was complete he was sent to France with ‘C’ Company, 11 Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. In the 11 Argylls he served alongside his cousin Murdo Mackay (whose story appears elsewhere in this book), as a bomber in the bombing platoon.
On the 15 of September 1916, the 11 Argylls attacked the village of Martinpuich during the Battle of the Somme, the attack was a success but the battalion losses were severe. Private William Mackay was killed in action alongside his cousin Murdo during this attack.
The story of Murdo Mackay says that he was killed in action as he tried to rescue a wounded man, I wonder if the wounded man he was trying to save was his cousin William?
SCOTTISH NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL EDINBURGH CASTLE William Mackay (b) Portrush, County Antrim. S/6529. Private. Killed in action F&F 15-9-16. 11 Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION Mackay Private William. S/6529. 11 Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. 15 of September 1916. Son of Neil Mackay, 66 Nelson Street, South Side, Glasgow. Pier and Face 15.
Private William Mackay S/6529, 11 Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders has no known grave and is remembered on the THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, FRANCE. (His name appears next to that of his cousin Murdo Mackay, 11 Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders).
James Mackay was born in High Bonnybridge; son of Alexander Mackay and Rosina Gilmour of 7 Drum Terrace, High Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire. He was employed by the Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Co, Ltd and worked there beside his father and two brothers Murdo and Alexander.
He enlisted in the Army in Edinburgh and joined the 5 Battalion (Queens Edinburgh Rifles) Royal Scots, a Territorial Army battalion serving with the Lothian Brigade. (See also Corporal Angus Mackay Tongue War Memorial). At the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, the 5 Royal Scots were sent on coastal defence duties at Musselburgh to guard against enemy invasion. On the 10 of March 1915 the battalion was sent to Leamington Spa in Warwickshire to join the 29 (Infantry) Division of the regular army. The 5 Battalion spent its time at Leamington Spa training and drawing equipment ready to proceed overseas and take part in the attack on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.
The 29 Division sailed from Great Britain to Egypt in late March 1915 via Gibraltar to Egypt and then on to the Greek Island of Lemnos. The island of Lemnos lay just off the Gallipoli Peninsula and was used to build up the troops for the attack to be made on Turkey and the seizure of the Dardanelles Strait. The British attack on Gallipoli was launched on the 25 of April, the 5 Royal Scots landed at W Beach as the reserve troops for the 29 Division. The battalion advanced three miles in contact with the Turks under heavy machine gun and rifle fire, before digging in short of its objective Achi Baba Nullah (Ridge).
On the 28 of April the battalion moved into the frontline and attacked Achi Baba Ridge, they suffered heavy casualties and failed to take the objective. The British then dug in and the fighting on Gallipoli became a stalemate of trench warfare like the Western Front.
In June the 5 Royal Scots were holding trenches at Suvla Bay and attacking Turkish lines around Achi Baba and Gully Ravine. The conditions were horrendous with the constant heat of the sun beating down on the front with little water available; men only had half a canteen per day for washing and drinking. Soldiers sent on working parties to dig trenches and carry sandbags received an extra two spoonfuls of water per four hours of work.
The trenches were always filthy with millions of flies swarming around the men as they worked or sought shelter from the blazing heat of the sun, beating down upon them. The smell from the unburied bodies that lay out in no-mans land was overwhelming; no one could bury the dead because of the constant fire brought to bear from the Turkish lines.
On the 28 of June the 4 and 7 Royal Scots attacked Gully Ravine and Achi Baba Ridge with the 5 Royal Scots in reserve. The attacking waves took some ground and as the 5 Battalion moved forward it took heavy casualties against overwhelming odds. A total of three hundred men from the battalion were lost as they charged the ridge with no artillery support and took the objective. The 5 Royal Scots by now had been reduced to less than a Company in strength and were withdrawn from the front lines.
Private James Mackay was killed in action on Achi Baba Ridge Gallipoli as his battalion took the objective at bayonet point. The battalion had only been in action for two months and was totally destroyed in the opening days of the failed Dardanelles Campaign, the 5 Royal Scots withdrew to Lemnos Island from Suvla Bay for reinforcements in August.
James Mackay is the younger brother of Murdo and Alexander Mackay who both appear on Skerray War Memorial. He is also a nephew of Mrs Fairlie Mackay; his name is not shown on the Roll of Honour in Tongue church behind the pulpit.
SCOTTISH NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL EDINBURGH CASTLE1404 Private James Mackay. Killed in action Gallipoli 29-6-15. (b)Edinburgh.5 Battalion Royal Scots.
COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSIONMackay Private James 1404. 5 Battalion Royal Scots (Queens Edinburgh Rifles). Killed in action on 29 June 1915. Plot II. Row F. Grave 9.
Private James Mackay 1404, 5 Battalion Royal Scots is buried in a war grave at TWELVE TREE COPSE CEMETERY TURKEY.