Kenneth Mackay was born in
Melness in 1884,son of Williamina Mackay, she had 2 other children Marion born in 1881 and John born in 1887. The 1891 Census shows the family living in Melness but on the 1901 Census Kenneth is shown as living in Thurso where he is employed as a "horseman in a quarry" Kenneth enlisted into the Army in Thurso as a boy
soldier at the age of sixteen, once he had completed his military training he
was sent to the 2 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders. The 2
Battalion was stationed at Shorncliffe in England as part of the 10
Brigade, 4 Division.
The battalion was mobilised at 6:30pm on the
4 of August 1914, war was officially declared on Germany four
and a half-hours later at 11pm. The 2 Seaforths were immediately
warned to prepare to go overseas, as part of the British Expeditionary Force
that was being formed in southern England.
The B.E.F. landed in France with the 2 Battalion
Seaforth Highlanders landing at Boulogne
on the 23 of August. The battalion was quickly moved up to the
front, in two days reaching a position south-east of Mons in Belgium, they were
only in this position for a short time when heavy shelling forced them to
During the retreat of the next 14 days, the
2 Seaforths marched one hundred and thirty-four miles whilst
acting as the B.E.F. rearguard. On the 26 of August the British 4
Division paused near the Belgian town of Le
Cateau and had a brief but bloody fight with the
German advance guard. The ground could not however be held, due to the French
on the right flank giving ground to relentless enemy attacks, the British were
then forced to retire once again.
On August the 30, the 2
Battalion took part in the long march from Noyan to Genancourt, through the Forest of Champagne to Baron, arriving in Baron on
the 1 of September. The battalion was then moved to Dammartin on
September 2, Bois de Chigney on the 3 and finally to
Chevry on the 5.
The retreat was now over as the British and
French Armies held the German invaders from the 7 to the 10
of September at the Battle
of the River Marne. The Germans, now at the end of long supply lines were
forced to retreat back the way they had come.
The 2 Battalion became involved in the fighting at the
River Aisne from the 12 to 15 of September.
German forces then turned north towards the English Channel and the British Army became involved in
the ‘race to the sea’. The German aim was to cut the B.E.F. off from its ports
and supply lines, then destroy it and sweep onwards toward Paris.
The British chased the Germans North finally
meeting in action close to the Belgian Border, the battle lines of the next
four years were now beginning to form. The British were now close to the
Flanders region of Belgium
and the town of Ypres,
an area that would become infamous in military history.
At 2:50pm on the 13 of October
1914 the 2 Seaforths attacked and captured the village of Meteren
at bayonet point, alongside the 2 Battalion Dublin Fusiliers. The
attack was made in the face of heavy machine gun fire; most of the Seaforth
casualties were caused by a machine-gun located inside a church tower.
Private Kenneth Mackay was killed in action
during this attack; he was the first man from the parish of Tongue to fall in
World War One. Total Seaforth casualties
at Meteren were four officers wounded, eighteen other ranks killed and
sixty-six were wounded, one man was reported missing.
SCOTTISH NATIONAL WAR
Mackay Kenneth. (b) Tongue
Sutherlandshire. Private 8883. Killed in
F & F.
2 Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders.
COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION
Mackay Private K. 8883. 2
Battalion Seaforth Highlanders. Killed in Action 13-10-14.
Plot 1. Row J. Grave 239.
Private Kenneth Mackay 8883 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders is buried in a war grave at METEREN MILITARY CEMETERY, METEREN, FRANCE.