Lochbroom Folk

Lochbroom's Sacrifice in the Second World War

Page 19
Colour Sergeant 3060962
1st Battalion Tyneside Scottish, the Black Watch
Killed in action on 1st July 1944 aged 28

Angus Mackay has been included in this document because he was the teacher at Ullapool School for several years during the 1930s.  He sometimes hired the mail bus on a Saturday and would take the pupils on school outings round Lochbroom.

He was born in 1915 at St George, Edinburgh, the son of Donald McBeath Mackay and Mary.  He married Violet Mary Tynan in 1940, at Morningside, Edinburgh.

The 1st Battalion Tyneside Scottish, part of the 70th Infantry Brigade, embarked at Newhaven for France on 11th June 1944 and on arrival between Riviere and Le Hamel ‘Gold Beach’ proceeded to the concentration area at Esquay- sur-Seulles, east of Bayeux.

As part of Operation Epsom, which aimed to pierce the front to the west of Caen on 26th June 1944, the British prepared a flank offensive in the direction of Rauray.  It began at dawn on 25th June and for two days the Germans managed to contain this attack. 

On 27th June the 70th Infantry Brigade (49th Infantry Division), was ordered to renew the offensive in the direction of Rauray.  The 1st Battalion Tyneside Scottish managed to reach the village but they suffered heavy losses.  On 1st July at 6.00 am the Germans attacked the British positions defending Rauray and managed to break the line of defence, thus isolating the 1st Battalion Tyneside Scottish.  The British held onto Rauray during the day and at 6.00 p.m. the Germans retreated. 

Angus was one of 2 officers and 31 ‘other ranks’ from the 1st Tyneside Scottish Battalion who were killed on 1st July.

He was buried at TILLY-SUR-SEULLES WAR CEMETERY  in Grave IV.A.8.

Photo:  Len

Sergeant 2820987
5th Battalion, the Seaforth Highlanders
Died of wounds on 30th March 1945, aged 22

The 5th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders was mobilised on 1st September 1939 but did not begin active service until August 1942 in the Middle East.  It formed part of the 152nd Brigade in a reconstituted 51st Highland Division. The actions of the 5th Seaforths are well explained on the 51st Highland Division website and also in Alastair Borthwick’s book Battalion.

Sergeant Donald Hugh (Hughie) Macleod was too young in 1939 to enlist with the 4th Seaforths, so joined the 5thSeaforths sometime after the 1940 Battle of Abbeville.  He participated in the following campaigns:

North Africa: 
Capture of Tripoli January 1943
Tunisia : Medenine March 1943 - over 50 enemy tanks were destroyed.  areth Line March 1943.


Sicily:  Operation Husky June-November 1943 in which Hugh was awarded the Military Medal.

The 51st Highland Division returned to Britain in November 1943 and after leave settled down to training for the invasion of mainland Europe. 

Normandy: Operation Overlord June 1944
152 Brigade commanded by Brigadier A J H Cassels consisted of 2nd and 5th Seaforths and the 5th Camerons.  The operation was to invade the Normandy coast from the Carentan estuary to just east of the mouth of the River Orne.  

The role of the 51st Highland Division in the landing was to support and fill in behind the first wave.  After the landings the operations in the following weeks were some of the worst the Division had experienced.  On 13th June 1944, 152 Brigade ran into stiff opposition in the area of St. Honorine and Demouville. Their attacks were driven off and they went into a defensive position north of St. Honorine.

Operation Totalise: The Breakout
The 51st Highland Division was placed under command of the Canadian Corps and on 6th August moved forward.  The attack began on the night of the 7th, and when the operation ended on the 10th August the 51st Highland Division had secured all its objectives.  With the "Breakout" battle complete the 51st Highland Division had several days to recover before the advance continued.  From Lisieux they advanced east, crossing the Seine and dealing with the enemy rear guard.  The intention was to isolate the port of Le Havre.

Return to St Valéry 1 September 1944
It should be remembered that in June 1940 the original 51st Highland Division under General Victor Fortune had been required to surrender at St Valery to General Rommel and its soldiers were still languishing in prisoner of war camps in Germany and Poland.  Now General Montgomery was keen to see their successors recapture the town.  They arrived at St Valery on 1st September where the 5th Seaforths and 5th Camerons met each other in Station Square (below)

Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge:  Ronchamps 10 January 1945

Rhine Crossing:  Late March 1945 –
Sergeant Donald Hugh MacLeod, MM and his great friend Lieutenant Donald Macleod, DCM from Achiltibuie were killed within days of each other after crossing the River Rhine.  This article appeared in the press a fortnight later.

Prior to enlisting, Donald Hugh (Hughie) worked as a plumber and originally came from Croft 157 Achlochan in Achiltibuie.  He was the son of Jean (Jane) Macleod who later lived at 25 Ladysmith Street, Ullapool.  He was born in 1921 – Reference: Coigach 075/2 1. 

The two most significant moments in Hughie’s military life are highlighted:

On 1st August 1943 in the Battle of the Sferro Hills he was acting as Intelligence Sergeant.  The Division was tasked to take the road from Sferro to Catenanuova but to achieve this it was necessary to clear the enemy of the Sferro hills who were positioned on a line of hills running north-west to south-east.  At the north-west end was point 224.  To the right in a fold in the ground was Iazzovechio farm and further right Angelico farm, with Mount Etna in the background.

As a result of his conduct, Hughie was awarded the Military Medal.

The second most significant and tragic event was a few days after the 5th Seaforths crossed the Rhine at dawn on 24th March 1945.

'The Primrose Path Battle ' - night of 28th/29th March 1945.  The 5th Seaforth supported by a company of the 5th Camerons were instructed to advance and seize the crossings on the Aastrang River and the small tributary the Holtwicker Bach, codenamed Primrose I and Primrose II respectively.  The thrust north would place the Battalion between the German defenders that were still holding Anholt and the Dutch village of Dinxperlo.  From the start, the Battalion Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel J M Sym, "did not like the look of the operation".  In the early hours of the 29th March his fears came true.  The battalion, straddled across the River Aastrang and by now far forward of the other troops, was attacked from two sides and part of it, including his own Battalion Headquarters was overrun.

Extract from Battalion by Alastair Borthwick
“I got the wireless sets in, and then went upstairs to see how Sergeant Macleod was getting on with the lay-out of Battalion H.Q.,” said Jack Latta, the Signal Officer.  “Just as I reached the top of the stairs, shooting started all over the place.  Hughie Macleod was firing a sten round the edge of the front door; and when I got to the hall window there were Germans within a hundred yards, dodging about among the buildings.  I started shooting too.  Then the hall was full of grey smoke with sparks all through it, and the door came flying off its hinges, and I was lying against the wall.  Hughie was groaning at the door.  It’s funny, but I don’t remember a bang at all – just the smoke and the sparks.  It was a bazooka.  Hughie was dying, and I didn’t know that.  I dragged him downstairs.  There were four other wounded there too.  I turned back, and at the top was a German pointing a gun at me and shouting down into the cellar.

Well… what could we do?  We could hear more Boche outside, scraping away at the earth and sandbags over the cellar windows.  We were helpless, and one grenade would have been the end of us.  We put our hands up.  The Colonel and the part of Battalion H.Q. that most mattered were marched off to a house a short distance away.

The Battalion’s casualties were fourteen killed and forty wounded.  We recovered all our prisoners.  Colonel Sym walked in under his own power, after escaping for the third time in two years; when our mortars stonked the area and the Germans fled to the cellars, he had hidden behind a stove and escaped in the confusion.  Early next day our armour was pouring over the bridges.  The Germans had cracked, and the hunt was up

Hughie is commemorated on the Ullapool and Achiltibuie War Memorials and listed on a memorial at the village church of Dinxperlo commemorating the ‘fallen for the liberation of Dinxperlo on 29, 30 and 31 March 1945.’   He is also included on the family headstone in Badenscallie Burial Ground.

Photo: Roddie Macpherson

Frederick Bain and Christina Macleod were Donald Hugh’s grandparents and Hugh Macleod who died in France in September 1916 was his uncle

Hughie is buried in Venray War Cemetery, Netherlands in Plot IV.B.10.

Photo: Fred

Photograph of Donald Hugh Macleod's grave courtesy of Piet Snellen, Netherlands.

Note from Ross and Cromarty Heritage Society:

On 13 May 2020 RCHS received an email from Piet Snellen, as follows:

On your website I found a photo and a lot of information about Serjeant Donald Hugh MacLeod.  I live in the Netherlands close near CWGC Venray War Cemetery where Donald is buried.  I copied Donald's photo on your website.  We will make an aluminum plate with his photo on and put it on Donald's grave on special occasions like Remembrance Day / Liberation Day etc.  I also work on an Adoption Foundation for the War Graves at CWGC Venray War Cemetery.  I am sure Donald's grave will be adopted and taken care of in the future.  I enclose a photo of Donald grave which I took this afternoon.

The website is still under construction : www.adoptiegraven-venray.nl

Private, Royal Army Service Corps
Died of sickness on 13th April 1950, aged 22

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.  The marriage certificate reads:  Alexander, farmer, bachelor age 36.  Usual residence Achlochan, Coigach.  Rachel, domestic servant, spinster age 33.  Usual Residence Altandhu.  Witnesses: Dn Maclean and Catherine Black.

In 1940 the family moved to Crofton House, Market Street, Ullapool and Duncan attended the local school.  Duncan was called up in 1945 and fell ill when he was training.  He died of Pulmonary Tuberculosis in the County Hospital Invergordon.  At the time of his death he was serving in the Royal Army Service Corps.

Duncan was buried in Badenscallie Burial Ground, Achiltibuie.  The headstone reads:
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.

Private, 5th Seaforth Highlanders

The Ross-shire Journal dated 4th December 1942 stated that Kenneth was wounded in the Middle East, a son of Mr Alex[ander] Macleod, mason contractor of West Terrace Ullapool.  Alexander and Margaret Urquhart married on 5th February 1920 in Dingwall, but their home addresses were in Ullapool.  Kenneth was born in 1922 in Lochbroom Registration District.  He was the informant of his father’s death in 1963 and still living at West Terrace, Ullapool.

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