View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Donald Maciver, another WW1 casualty not listed as such

Last address in Lewis: 17 Knock, Point
Son of Murdo and Mary Mciver, of 17 Knock, Point
Service unit: 179th Canadian Infantry
Service number: 859994
Date of death: 24 May 1920 at the age of 28
Was gassed; quoted as severely wounded
Interred: Winnipeg (Brookside) Military Cemetery, grave Mil. 246

He does not feature on the local war memorial in Garrabost, and is not listed as deceased in the Roll of Honour, presumably because he died 18 months after the end of the First World War. However, Donald still qualifies for inclusion as he passed away before 1922 (the CWGC cut-off point) and he was born in Lewis.

Hurricane update - 4 November

Tropical storm Tomas is approaching Haiti, and although its attendant winds are not particularly high (equivalent to force 9 or 10 on the Beaufort scale), the rainfall from this system could prove devastating. Maximum amounts range from 5 to 10 inches, up to 15 inches in mountainous terrain.

Tropical cyclone 05B has formed in the Bay of Bengal and is headed west towards the coasts of the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in India. The storm will be at hurricane force by the time it makes landfall late on Sunday.

Daniel Mciver, Coll

Daniel was a sergeant-major in the 5th battalion Canadian Infantry (Saskatchewan Regiment), the Fighting Fifth, when he was killed in action on 28 April 1917, aged 41. His link to the Isle of Lewis did not become clear to me until I was going through tributes in the Stornoway Gazette for 1917. The article, which sourced its information from a Canadian newspaper, the Yorkton Enterprise (Saskatchewan), gave quite a bit of information, but there was no reference to him from local files.

Let me quote the article first.
From the "Yorkton Enterpise" (Sask, Canada) to hand we cull the following:-
"Word was received by Mr Maciver, Saltcoats, on 19th May, that his son, Sergt Major Dan Maciver, D.C.M. ofo the Fighting Fifth battalion, had been killed in action. Dan, who was well known and a prime favourite throughout the district, was born at Coll, Lewis, Scotland, and came to Canada with his parents in 1889, settling in the Lothian Colony. Whilst still in his teens, Dan, along with Malcolm Docherty (now Major Docherty, DSO) journeyed to Winnipeg and joined the Canadian Dragoons. When the South African War broke out, he was one of the first to volunteer for active service, taking part in no less than twenty-three campaigns. At the outbreak of the present conflict Dan again showed his military spirit by enlisting and went overseas with the first contingent. After reaching France, he gave a splendid account of himself, and was promoted on the field to the rank of Sergt.-Major, being also frequently mentioned in despatches for bravery and coolness in action. Some time he was offered the chance to return to Canada for promotion, but preferred to stay with the game. His death is the fourth that has occurred in the family within the last five years, and he is survived by his parents and two brothers and two sisters out of a family of twelve."
A year last Christmas, Sergt.-Major Maciver paid a visit to the haunts of his youth at Coll, and needless to say had a very cordial welcome.

An on-line study group into the Canadian Expeditionary Force was most helpful in eliciting the information I was after, and another on-line contact here in Scotland will hopefully ascertain the claim to the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM).

I have access to birth, death and marriage records in Scotland, but Daniel does not feature on them. This can easily be explained by a fire in Stornoway Town Hall in March 1918, which destroyed some of the island's civic records. However, the other documentation clearly states that he was born in Coll, Isle of Lewis, although the year of birth on his WW1 attestation paper is clearly wrong: if he was born in 1888, he would not have been aged 41 in 1917. It is more likely that Daniel was born in the late 1870s.

His parents emigrated to Canada in 1889, as the article says, and he joined up for the Boer War of 1899-1901. He gained the Queen's Medal with four clasps (Paardeberg, Driefontein, Cape Colony and Transvaal) before being discharged on Christmas Day 1900.

Fourteen years later, the spectre of war once more descended over Europe and Daniel immediately responded. He enlisted at the Valcartier barracks in Quebec on 17 September 1914, 6 weeks after the outbreak of war. On his attestation paper he was quoted as a Real-Estate Agent, with his father Kenneth Mcivor (sic) living in Saltcoats, SK, although elsewhere Mciver senior is listed at Barvas. This hamlet is located a dozen miles north of Saltcoats. On enlistment, Daniel is described as 5 ft 10 (1.77 m) tall, of fair complexion with brown eyes and brown hair. A mole was seen at the centre of his back. He professes to be of the Presbyterian faith.

During the First World War, Daniel is mentioned in despatches twice; being mentioned in despatches is a distinction in itself. However, Daniel was sadly lost in the aftermath of the battle for Vimy Ridge in April 1917 and is only mentioned on the Vimy Memorial; the location of his grave is unknown.

I have entered Daniel's details on Faces from the Lewis War Memorial under the heading of Coll.

Thursday 4 November

Not a terribly inspiring day, overcast, wet and cold. Only 5 or 6 degrees above freezing. Would you believe that 550 miles away at Heathrow Airport, the mercury reached 18.3C this afternoon?? Fortunately, there is justice in this world, and they will come crashing down to 9C by the time the weekend is over.

Once more, I have traced a soldier from the First World War who is not mentioned in any of my files, although he is recognised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. As soon as I have completed the research, I'll post the results on here.

The saga of the grounded sub, HMS Astute, took another twist when it became known that the craft collided with the tug that was pulling it off its shinglebank. This prang damaged a starboard foreplane on the submarine, but it was able to proceed back to base without problems. The investigation into this incident is continuing, whilst the Western Isles MP, Angus Macneil, has now called for a parliamentary debate on the emergency tugs.