Macduff, Alexander

Only son of Alexander and Edith Macduff of Bonhard, Perth, he came to Winchester from Cargilfield School, Edinburgh, was Head of his House and a Commoner Prefect in his last year and shot for Wimbledon VIII. He went up to New College, Oxford in 1903 and in the following year passed into the Army, first in the University list, obtaining his commission in 1905 in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. He served for some time at Pretoria with his battalion and afterwards accompanied it to Tien-Tsin, where it formed part of the international army of occupation after the Boxer uprising.

At the outbreak of war the battalion was in India and was ordered home with other contingents in October 1914. They went out to France with the 27th Division and were heavily engaged early in 1915 round St. Eloi and Hill 60. On April 22nd 1915 the Second Battle of Ypres opened with a great German attack on Allied positions around Ypres, involving the first use of poison gas, against French troops. By late evening, the situation was serious. There were dangerous gaps in the Allied line, and the Germans had penetrated deep into the Ypres Salient. On the left of the British line, near St. Julien, the left wing and rear of the Canadian Division was exposed. The way to Ypres was open. Luckily, however, the Germans did not exploit the breakthrough of April 22nd.

A second chlorine gas attack came two days later, on April 24th, this time directed against the Canadian troops situated north-east of Ypres, preceded by a sharp artillery bombardment (the Germans had massive artillery superiority throughout Second Ypres). This engagement centred on St. Julien, to the northeast of Ypres, and the combination of gas, artillery fire and overwhelming numbers helped the Germans to success, as did the failure to function properly of the Canadian Ross rifle. Macduff was killed on April 24th 1915, at the age of thirty. 81 Brigade was holding the south-east of the Ypres Salient that day, at Hill 60, east of Hooge, and although no major fighting took place in that area, shell-fire was heavy. He was buried close to where he fell, but his body was never recovered, and he is commemorated in panels 38 and 40 of the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres.

War: World War 1

  • Surname: Macduff
  • Forenames or initials: Alexander
  • House: D
  • Years in School: 1897-1903
  • Rank: Captain
  • Regiment: Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
  • Date of Birth: 6th July 1884
  • Date of Death: 24th April 1915
  • How Died: Killed in action
  • Location in War Cloister: Outer B1
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial