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A Glaswegian's War Diary

This is the First World War Diary of Robert Lindsay Mackay, OBE, MC, MB, CB, MD, D PH, giving an account of his day-to-day life with the 11th Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders from 1915-1918.

Robert Lindsay Mackay WW2 Photo

Robert Lindsay Mackay Baby Photo

Small Image Robert Lindsay Mackay Willowbank Class Photo

Robert Lindsay Mackay in Mallet Ward, Royal Hospital Wolverhampton

Small Image Officers of the 11th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 1917 (RLM front row 2nd from Left)                 

Glaswegian Robert Lindsay Mackay  was born on the 30 July 1896. His father, George, was the youngest of 10 children and a woollen buyer for a warehouse, and married his mother Mary Lindsay, after a seven year engagement.

On the day of his birth at 42 Bank Street, Hillhead in Glasgow, three of his curious cousins arrived at the flat to see if the new baby was a boy or a girl.  There they discovered they had a new baby boy cousin.  

The Mackays lived only a half a miles from the University of Glasgow gates and until Robert was 28-years-old, expect for the three years he was at war, they always lived within the sound of the university bells.  From Bank Street, the family moved to better flats at 138 Cambridge Drive then  11 Blythswood Drive and back again to Hillhead, to 9 Strathmore Gardens  now 41 Hillhead Street.

Robert said of his time at Willowbank Primary School:

"I learned every swear word then known, and much about the facts of life from my schoolmates, for boys and girls shared the same classrooms."

In 1909 he attended Hillhead High School where English literature, especially poetry, became a favourite, a love he carried throughout his life.  

Robert matriculated at the University of Glasgow in 1914, though his classes in Mathematics, Natural Philosophy and Chemistry were at the Royal College of Technology.  His studies were interrupted, however, by the outbreak of war and he enlisted. 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.

He was a gallant soldier, and won the Military Cross (MC) with bar. As a Signalling Officer he volunteered to go forward after being left without company officers. He reorganised his men and pressed on to meet a threatened attack, only withdrawing when ordered to do so. His Military Cross (MC) was gazetted on 18 October 1917. In October 1918 his gallantry was recognised again, when, under heavy shelling and with communication lines broken, he undertook an intelligence foray on his own and was able to bring back valuable information.

After the war, Robert Mackay returned to Glasgow and attended the University of Glasgow. Perhaps because of his experience in the war, he decided to become a Doctor and matriculated in Science and Medicine. He was a good student, passed his exams comfortably and graduated BSc in 1921, MB ChB in 1923. He gained an MD in 1927 and DPH Ed in 1928.

He subsequently became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of 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 became a consultant at the Royal Hospital, Wolverhampton.

During the Second World War he served his country again, this time as a Lieutenant Colonel in the RAMC. He died in 1981. He was survived by his wife, fellow Glasgow graduate Margaret McLellan (who later died in 1993), and their children.

What follows is The War Diary of Robert Lindsay Mackay, which lay on a shelf of his home until the 1970s when a conversation with a neighbour about The Battle of the Somme saw him delving back into this historically fascinating record.


We would like to thank the Mackay family website - in particularly Robert's grandson Bob Mackay - for allowing us to reproduce his war diary and family photographs. 

  • Robert Lindsay Mackay World War II 
  • Robert Lindsay Mackay with his parents in Glasgow
  • Robert Lindsay at Willowbank Primary (RLM third from the left in middle row)
  • Robert Lindsay Mackay in Mallet Ward, Royal Hospital, Wolverhampton
  • Officers of the 11th Battalion, Argylle and Sutherland Highlanders 1917 (RLM front Row 2nd from left)

► Read : The War Diary of Robert Lindsay Mackay

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