COIGACH FOLK

COIGACH SACRIFICE IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR


Page 13

DEATH FROM NATURAL CAUSES


Norman Mackenzie, Private, Seaforth Highlanders, Service No. 2822659.  Died 19th May 1941 aged 25.
 

Son of Duncan and Katie Mackenzie née McKay of 126 Polglass, Achiltibuie, who had married on Christmas Day 1913 in Dingwall. Duncan was 37 and Katie 28. Her address was Caledonian Hotel, Dingwall. It is guessed that she was working at that establishment.

Norman died of sickness on 19th May 1941 in Culduthel Hospital, Inverness; the cause of death was tuberculous meningitis, certified by Edward Mills MB ChB. It is suggested that he never went overseas. Alternatively he could have died when on leave. His occupation here is listed as Farm Worker (Private Seaforth Highlanders).

Norman is buried in Coigach (Badenscallie) Burial Ground in Grave 136.


 

Photos:  Roddie Macpherson


Another son, Roderick was wounded (announced in the Ross-shire Journal on 28th July 1944). Other siblings were Chrissie and Mary Anne.

Albert George Watkins, Private 1st Battalion Devonshire Regiment attached to 7th South Lancashire Regiment.  Service No. 5628256.  Died 15th October 1944 aged 29.


 Son of Thomas and Elizabeth Watkins (née Davies), husband of Margaret Watkins (née Macleod) of Achiltibuie, Garve, Ross Cromarty. Albert was born in the summer of 1915 and the twin of Walter Victor. Older siblings born in Budleigh were Irene in the Spring of 1912, and John Noel on Christmas Day 1913.

Albert married Margaret Macleod in The Parish Church, Budleigh Salterton, Devon on 20th April 1940.

 

Albert was aged 24, occupation gardener of 1 Greenway Lane, Budleigh Salterton (the family home). His father Thomas was also a gardener. Margaret was living at Kingsgate, Granary Lane, Budleigh Salterton. She was born in Achiltibuie on 23rd September 1912. It is noted that neither sets of parents were witnesses to the marriage so it is suspected they were not in attendance. The witnesses were friends/acquaintances living in nearby roads in Budleigh Salterton.

Why Margaret was living in Devon and whether she was working in the area is a mystery. A suggestion is that she was ‘in service’, but no occupation is listed on the Marriage Certificate. Margaret’s parents were Duncan, a crofter and Bella née Mackenzie, whose son Alexander also perished in WW2.

Albert was just older than the initial conscription requirements so would not have been asked to register immediately war broke out. By 1942 all male British subjects between 18 and 51 resident in Britain were liable to be called up, with some exemptions. Gardening was not considered to be an exempted occupation.

The outbreak of war in September 1939 found the 1st Devons at Rawalpindi in India, training to become a machine gun battalion.  At some stage Albert was attached to the 7th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment, which was raised in 1940 and stationed in India from October 1943 to the end of the war. It is not known whether Albert left the UK with the 1st Devons, or was attached to the 7th South Lancs before departure.

The 7th Battalion left Liverpool on the 31st August 1943 destination Bombay, where they received orders that they were earmarked for internal security duties at Jubbulpore and Nagpur. For jungle training of British troops the 52nd Infantry Brigade was formed at Budni in Bhopal State. It consisted of the 20th Battalion The Royal Fusiliers, 7th Battalion The South Lancashire Regiment and 12th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters. Here British infantry reinforcements undertook two months' training in the forest before going to active battalions. Albert never rejoined the 1st Devons because he died on 15th October 1944. The death certificate states that the cause of death was polio encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). He was initially buried at Bairagarh near Bhopal.

 

The CWGC lists him as lying in Kirkee War Cemetery in Plot 8.E.3, near Poona, 481 miles from Bairagarh. After Independence in 1947 British cemeteries fell into neglect and the decision was taken to concentrate on a few that could be protected and maintained and considered to be safe. Sometime after WW2 his body (along with others) was exhumed and transferred to Kirkee.

Photo:  Tony Beck



Albert’s name is inscribed on a brass plaque inside St Peter’s Church, Budleigh. He is also commemorated on Budleigh Salterton War Memorial, which stands at a high point on the sea shore facing out over Lyme Bay.

Albert’s father, Thomas, died on 3rd September 1948 at his home, 1 Greenway Lane, Budleigh Salterton. Elizabeth Ann remained in Devon for the rest of her life, dying in the autumn of 1961 aged 89.

Maggie had 2 children with Albert: (Alexander) Bruce (born in 1941) and Heather.

Maggie returned to Achiltibuie and married for the second time Johnny ‘Neil’ Macleod in 1949. He came from Polbain. They went to live in Ullapool and had a son Neil. Maggie was widowed again in the early 60s. She died in 2010.

Announcement in the Press and Journal, 9th February 2010.

MACLEOD Peacefully, at Mo Dhachaidh Nursing Home, Margaret, aged 97 years, daughter of the late Duncan and Isabella MacLeod, Big Dornie, Am Meall Dearg, Coigach, sister of Dolina, Alexander, Jessie Alice, Donald and Chrissie. Wife of the late Albert Watkins and the late John MacLeod (Shonnie Neill Mor An Neill). Precious mother of Bruce, Neil and Heather, a much loved grandmother to Marina, Alexander, Calum, Brian, Monica, Roseann and Gavin, a beloved great-grandmother and a friend to many.

Funeral service at 12 midday, on Wednesday, February 10, in the Church of Scotland, Ullapool, thereafter to Badensgallaidh Cemetery, Coigach. All friends respectfully invited. `S Beannaichte Na Mairbh A Gheibh Bas Anns An Tighearna'. Ristol House, Market Street, Ullapool.

Roderick Maclean Shaw, Private, Seaforth Highlanders.  Died 26th October 1945 at Polbain, aged 33.


Son of Roderick, crofter, and Catherine, née Maclean, who married on 14th February 1902 at Achiltibuie.

Roderick Maclean was born on 25th October 1912 at Polbain.  His older brother, Donald, was born on 6th December 1909.

Shaw family at Polbain.  Photo:  CCHG
 

Roderick’s school record was sufficiently good to qualify him for admission to Aberdeen University, and in 1931 he was in the Ordinary Graduation Class.

Roderick (senior) died of coronary thrombosis on 18th May 1942 at Polbain with Roderick Maclean (junior) present at his death.  This rather proves that although the latter served with the Seaforth Highlanders he was not overseas in 1942.

Roderick (junior) died on 26th October 1945 age 33, listed as fisherman at Polbain.

Cause of death Hodgkin's disease - 3 years, pulmonary tuberculosis.  Death certified by John P Leggate, MB, ChB, West Terrace, Ullapool.  Donald Shaw, his brother, was present at his death.  Roderick was interred at Badenscallie Burial Ground on 29th October.

Mrs Shaw (his mother) died in July 1970 aged 99.  She is buried in Badenscallie Burial Ground.

 

Photo:  Russel Wills

Duncan MacLean, Private, Royal Army Service Corps, Service No. 2820078. Died 13th April 1950, aged 22.  Buried in Badenscallie burial ground.

Duncan was born in 1928, the son of Alexander (1884-1964), a building contractor, and Rach(a)el née Mackenzie (1887-1974).

Alexander and Rachel were married on 16th November 1920 at Queen Street United Free Church, Inverness.  Alexander, farmer, bachelor age 36.  Usual residence Achlochan, Coigach.  Rachel, domestic servant, spinster age 33.  Usual Residence Altandhu.  Witnesses: Dn Maclean and Catherine Black

Siblings included Kenneth (1920-2003) - nick-name "Desperate Dan"  Occupation: Electric Linesman.

Duncan was called up in 1945 and fell ill when he was training. Fraser Muir remembers the family saying he contracted TB from a ‘great coat’ while training.

He died of Pulmonary Tuberculosis in County Hospital Invergordon, death registered by his brother. His usual residence was Crofton House, Market Street, Ullapool.

The family gravestone is very worn and not clear enough to photograph, but the wording is:

Alexander & Rachel (Mackenzie) Maclean, & s.Duncan

Erected/in/loving memory of/our dearly beloved son/DUNCAN MACLEAN/died 13th April 1950/a 22 years/also his parents/ALEXANDER MACLEAN/died 23rd April 1964/aged 81 years/RACHEL MACKENZIE/died 27th Sept 1974/aged 87 years.

Duncan’s niece, Rachel A Sutton Hayes writes:

This is the gravestone of my Grandparents & Uncle Duncan who died tragically in Invergordon Asylum of TB. The whole family which included 4 boys & 1 girl (my mother) lived in Achlochan, Coigach. The house which my Grandfather built still stands today. They moved to Ullapool in the early 1940's. My Grandfather was a well-known and highly respected stonemason who built houses etc. in Ullapool and further afield.”

Rachel has provided a document entitled ACHLOCHAN MEMORIES which can be found in APPENDIX D on page 19.

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