Lochbroom Folk

Lochbroom's Sacrifice in the Second World War

Page 26 


Ronnie Mitchell has provided much information and photographs regarding the Macdonald family from Ardmair, which is acknowledged with grateful thanks.  Ronnie’s wording is shown in italics.

John Macdonald (a gamekeeper) and Janet (Jessie) McGregor were married on 20th January 1910 at the Caledonian Hotel, Ullapool.  John was aged 37 and Jessie 24. Over the years Jessie gave birth to 9 children - 7 boys and 2 girls.

Taken around 1928 at Ardmair, my mother Isabella Macdonald with her parents John and Jessie Macdonald (my Grannie and Grandpa) and her six brothers.  Brother number seven, Gregor, would not come along until 1930.  Jessie is seated behind the eldest of the family, Iain - b. 1911, and to her right standing is Willie - b. 1923.  Seated in front of Willie is Murdo - b.1919. Standing at the rear is Duncan - b 1912, to Duncan's left is Mum - b. 1914 and seated in front of her is Roddy,- b.1916.  Seated between Roddy and Iain is Kenny – b. 1920.  Six brothers went to war and four served with the 4th Seaforth Highlanders.  

Roddie and Iain standing.  Seated, Kenny (in civvies) and Murdo.

Iain (Hector John) the eldest was taken prisoner after being badly wounded and later medically repatriated from POW camp in Poland via Sweden.
Roddy, also medically evacuated from the field (with TB) and was treated for some time at Harefield Sanatorium in London, later convalescing at home in Ardmair in a stand-alone wooden building which was erected specifically for the purpose by Commander and Lady Vyner of Kenachulish.  It was always known to us thereafter as Roddy's Hut!
Murdo, escaped on the last transport out of St Malo.

Duncan (second born in 1912) , standing on the far right of the picture, served the duration at sea as Lt Cdr RNVR (Ship's Captain Merchant Marine prior to outbreak) 

Uncle Willie was a pilot in the RAF and served throughout the Middle East flying unarmed DH Mosquito photo reconnaissance missions over enemy held territory and later in Malaya during the emergency there.

Kenny is one of the two Kenneth Macdonalds who are commemorated on the Ullapool War Memorial.  He died on 14th March 1945, aged 24 years, of tuberculosis of the spine and bone at the County Hospital, Strathpeffer.  His death certificate records that he was a general labourer.  Regrettably, he does not have a Commonwealth War Grave headstone, but he is remembered on his parents’ gravestone at Mill Street, Old Burial Ground, Ullapool.

Photo: Peter Drysdale

The Seaforth Sanatorium has been out of use as a hospital facility for many years now but it is where Kenny was treated for TB/Pneumonia after having been evacuated in 1940, while very ill in the back of a lorry on board a troop transport from, I think, the Port of Boulogne.

The family later learned that the Senior Medical Officer at the field hospital where he was being cared for amid all the pandemonium and bedlam that was the situation of the time, pulled rank with Kenny's own Company Commander and demanded that he be got onto the next available transport and shipped home on the basis that otherwise he would be dead within 48 hours! Within 48 hours he was being treated at the Seaforth TB Hospital at Maryburgh.  Streptomycine would not be developed until three years later and the basic penicillin of the time was just not enough.

The youngest brother, Gregor (born 1930) was too young to see war service but completed (and extended) National Service with the RAF!

My father (Ronald G Mitchell) [married Isabella Macdonald in 1940] who was as warmly regarded by the family as all the brothers, spent the war years working with the R&D team at Rolls Royce on the continual and fast paced development of the RR Merlin aero engine.”

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