Papers of Robert Lindsay Mackay, 1896-c1985, medical student, University of Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

Transcription of war time diaries of Lieutenant Robert Lindsay Mackay, 1916-1919. The diary was written contemporaneously in 4 small notebooks, copied in 1919 into 2 larger notebooks, and this typed transcription written in 1972. Includes photographs of: officers of B Company, 11th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (identified) before the battle of Arras (9 April 1917); officers of 11th Battalion, 11th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (identified) before the battle of Ypres (1917); No.7 platoon 11th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (identified) before the battle of Ypres (1917); and 5 photographs of other officers (identified).

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Lindsay Mackay was born in  1896  in Hillhead, Glasgow, Scotland, and was educated there. During the First World War, he served in the 11th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, holding the posts of: Signalling Officer; Assistant Adjutant; and Platoon Officer, and achieving the rank of Lieutenant. What follows is a brief summary of his army career taken from his war diaries.

On 4th September 1916, he was recalled from leave, and joined the 11th Service Battalion the Argylls, on 13 September  1916 , at the Somme front, in the area of Martinpuich and Becourt. Here he experienced heavy fighting and a gas attack. In early 1917, the battalion was moved to the area around Arras, where it took part in the Arras offensive (April 1917), and was involved in the battle for Guemappe and Monachy (23 April).

In June 1917 the battalion moved to St Omer, Belgium in preparation for the Ypres offensive. Mackay was appointed Assistant Adjutant. The Battalion was moved to The Ecole for the start of the Ypres offensive, and was involved in heavy fighting. During this period Mackay served as a stretcher bearer with the RAMC, and experienced heavy fighting, particularly on the failed attack against the German held positions at Beck house and Burry farm.

At the end of August the Battalion was moved back to the Arras front and Mackay received leave, during which he visited Glasgow (October 1917), returning to Arras on 17 October. In late 1917 he attended the XVII Corps school on signalling. On 21 March 1918 the German offensive began, and he was involved in maintaining and repairing communications and defences, often while under heavy German artillery fire.

On 10 June  1918 , the 11th battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders was absorbed into the 1st/8th Argylls, Mackay continued as Assistant Adjutant in the line in the 8th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. On 19 June, he was struck down with a case of trench fever, and was sent to the 23rd clearing station, at Ligny near St Pol for treatment, returning to the Battalion on the 27th June. On 15th July, the Battalion was moved to Champagne and participated in the battle at Berzy-le-sec.

On 18th August 1918, Mackay attended the army school for company commanders at Hardelot. He resumed his duties as Battalion signalling officer in September 1918. He also served as acting Adjutant on the front line at Loos and Hullych, in time for the German retreat, 01 October 1918. He visited London on leave 24 October to 10 November 1918, and was on his way back to rejoin the Battalion when he heard news of the armistice, 11 November  1918 .

After the war, Mackay returned to Glasgow and attended the  University of Glasgow, matriculating in science and medicine. He graduated BSc in  1921 , MB ChB in  1923 , gained MD in  1927  and DPH. Ed in  1928 . He subsequently became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh; and of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow. He was a House Physician and House Surgeon at the Western Infirmary, Glasgow and then Physician at the Royal Hospital Wolverhampton and Guest. Hospital, Dudley, England. He was also a Lieutenant Colonel in the RAMC. He died  c1985 .

Sources: Glasgow University Archive Services, UGC072/1 and The Medical Directory, 1975.


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received.

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Acquisition Information

Deposit : R L Mackay : 1977

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Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives, ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999and National Council on Archives, Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Previously catalogued as GUA 36064

Fonds level description compiled by John O'Brien, Archive Assistant, March 2003. Revised by Alma Topen, Assistant Archivist, Cataloguing, May 2004. Fonds level converted into Encoded Archival Description by Andrew Thomson, Hub Project Archivist, 12 August 2004. Lower levels converted to Encoded Archival Description by Alma Topen, Senior Assistant Archivist (cataloguing) 22 July 2014.