Thursday, 10 February 2011

Angus MacKenzie: The Story Behind the Name

Directly above Robert George Mavor on the British Linen Bank memorial is the name of Angus Mackenzie. Unlike Mavor, Angus Mackenzie didn't win any awards, and his death didn't (so far as we know) result in letters of fulsome praise to his family, but his story is no less valid than that of Mavor's, and it deserves to be told just as much as his.

Angus Mackenzie was born on the 7th July 1896, the son of John and Marion Mackenzie, of 25 Dalnair Street, Glasgow. He was educated at Woodside Higher Grade School and later the Glasgow High School.

After leaving school at Christmas 1912 he joined the Hillhead branch of the British Linen Bank.

In about 1913 he joined the Territorial Army, enlisting in the 5th Scottish Rifles, and on the outbreak of war he served a year of home service before volunteering to serve abroad in early 1916.

On the 20th July 1916, Mackenzie together with the rest of the 5th Scottish Rifles were involved in the battle for High Wood.

High Wood was the last of the major woods taken by the British forces during the Somme offensive of 1916. The first assault was on the 14th July, and after several assaults it was finally successfully taken in September. The attack of the 20th July was undertaken by several battalions, including the 1st Cameronians, 5th Scottish Rifles and the 20th Royal Fusiliers.

The attack was unsuccessful. Few men reached the wood itself, and those that did were cut down by German machine gun emplacements within the wood.

The 5th Scottish Rifles suffered 25 Officers and men killed, 165 wounded, and 217 missing, the majority of whom were never found.

Angus Mackenzie was initially reported wounded and missing at High Wood. It was not until June 1917 that he was officially declared to have died on the 20th July 1916.

The body of Angus Mackenzie was eventually found and identified, and he lies in Section XI, Row A, Grave 34 of Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval. He is commemorated on the British Linen Bank war memorial in Edinburgh.

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