Donald Mackay was born in Tongue in 1893, eldest
son of (Piper) John Mackay and Margaret Mackay of 5 South Skinnet, Talmine. They were married in 1886 in Fraserburgh. In 1911 Census Donald is at home in Skinnet with his parents and brothers and sister. His occupation is listed as waiter. Mr John Mackay had served thirty years in the militia, ten of those
in the Seaforth Highlanders and twenty in the Highland Light Infantry. Donald
enlisted into the Lovat Scouts in Tongue alongside his brother George; before
enlisting in the army they were both employed as gamekeepers.
On the 8 of
September 1915, the 1 Battalion Lovat Scouts was with the Highland
Mounted Brigade that boarded the SS Andania at Devonport bound for the
Dardanelles in the Mediterranean. The battalion handed in all its ponies and
cavalry kit, embarking for Gallipoli Campaign as infantry.
The Lovat Scout battalion landed at Suvla
Bay Gallipoli on the night of 26 and 27 of September,
spending the next twelve days in reserve trenches. In reserve they carried out
fatigues, unloading ammunition, digging trenches and drawing stores ready to
enter the front lines.
On the 6 of October the Scouts
moved forward into the front line, remaining two hundred yards from the Turkish
lines for the next month. Patrols were sent out at night to recce the enemy
trenches, attacks were then launched the following day to try and straighten
the line. Many scouts were sent out into no-mans land as snipers, Turkish
soldiers became the targets of men who had learnt their skills, stalking deer
in the Highlands of Scotland.
In November the Lovat Scouts returned to the
reserve trenches, so far casualties had been light mainly caused by sickness.
On the 26 of November, the Lovat Scouts returned to the front line
as a heavy thunderstorm began at 5pm.
A second storm at 7:30pm lasted until
9:15pm, this second storm flooded all the trenches and carried a torrent of
water full of dead men and dead horses down onto the British lines. The
trenches were almost destroyed beyond use, forcing the Lovat Scouts to shelter
near the sea after losing all their kit.
It then began to snow; the temperature was
minus eighteen degrees as the frost froze the soaking wet clothing of the
soldiers solid. Conditions were unbearable, with water unfit to drink and
rations short, some units lost half their strength from exposure and jaundice.
Over 6,700 men were evacuated suffering from the effects of the storm that hit
Gallipoli that night, the number of dead is not known, most of those who died
either drowned or froze to death.
Donald and his brother had been manning a
machine gun during the storm and had managed to survive the terrible
conditions. As they left the trench together the following day Donald was shot
and severely wounded by a Turkish sniper, he died from his wounds shortly
afterwards, he was 22 years of age.
George survived the First World War and
returned home to live in Melness.
SCOTTISH NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL EDINBURGH CASTLE
Mackay Donald 5041 L/Cpl (b) Tongue Sutherlandshire. Died of Wounds
1 Battalion Lovat Scouts.
COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION
Mackay Lance Corporal D. 5041 28
November 1915. Age 22. Son of John and Margaret Mackay, 5 Skinnet, Talmine,
Lairg Sutherland. 1 Lovat Scouts.
Plot 1. Row D. Grave 10.
Lance Corporal Donald Mackay 5041, is buried in a
war grave at LALA BABA CEMETERY, GALLIPOLI, TURKEY.