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Remembered Today:

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Regret to inform you...




On the 25th September 1916, the 1/4th Londons were involved in an action to clear the northern end of Bouleaux Wood. The action was successful but a number of men were either killed or wounded, 2nd Lt E M MacCormick being one of the latter. His family were informed by telegram:

Post Office Telegraph dated 29th Sept 1916

To: MacCormick, 27 Rock Ave., Gillingham , Kent

06598 Regret to inform you Second Lieut E M MacCormick 4th Londons wounded 25th. No further particulars.

Territorial Record Office London

Post Office Telegraph dated 3th Oct 1916

To: MacCormick, 27 Rock Ave., Gillingham , Kent

06703 Second Lieut E M MacCormick admitted 1, Red Cross Hospital Le Touquet October 3rd gunshot wound right arm, fractured humerus and chest severe. Regret permission to visit cannot be granted.


Eight days later my grandfather was able to scribble a reassuring letter home to his fiancee:

My dear Florence,

Glad to hear from you and thank you in anticipation of the fruit you are so kindly sending me. I got your letter and one from Hylda on the same day so count myself lucky.

My right arm is smashed pretty badly above the elbow. I think I must have been hit by two or three machine gun bullets. Before the attack we were cinematographed so look for a dashing young officer next time you see the Somme films. We were greatly amused at the whole proceedings. Have you seen the tanks yet?

All the sisters are awfully good to us and we have quite a good time during the day but the night time is rotten as my arm always starts straffing between 12 and 2. My arm is in a huge iron splint and if the other was the same I'd look like a crucifix. Still I'll be in England soon and I won't leave it again in a hurry.

Cheery-bye and please write again.


(This letter was written left handed of course)

My grandfather was then returned to England where he attended various hospitals at Devonshire Street, London, Osborne Isle of Wight, Cambridge Hospital Aldershot and Oakbrook Hospital Sheffield. His right arm never properly recovered.

By early 1917 he was at Osborne on the Isle of Wight where, with the rank of temporary Major, he was made commandant of the hospital. On the 18th March he received another telegram:

To: 2nd Lt Ewen MacCormick 4th London Regt. Osborne IoW

Your attendance is required at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday next the Twenty First at ten o'ck am service dress. Regret that no one except those to be invested can be admitted to the Palace. Please telegraph acknowledgement.

Lord Chamberlain London.

On the 21st March 1917 he was awarded his MC by the King.

During his time at Osborne he rubbed shoulders with one or two of England's literary greats: A A Milne and Robert Graves. In 'Goodbye to all That' Robert Graves recounts a detail of his time at Osborne when he helped form the 'Royal Albert Society' "its pretended aim being to revive interest in the life and times of the Prince Consort". Membership was restricted to those who "professed themselves students of the life and work of the Prince Consort; who had been born in the province of Alberta in Canada; etc., etc., or those who were linked with the Prince Consort's memory in any way." The society had fifteen members and ate strawberries by the punnet. Later "one claimed to be the grandson of the man who had built the Albert Memorial". This was not strictly true but a quarry on the remote island of Iona off the Argyllshire coast, had supplied the granite base of the memorial and this was owned by my great-great grandfather.

My grandfather was officially discharged from the Army in the summer of 1919, assessed as 50% disabled, by which time he had returned to Scotland with his new wife Florence to become the teacher on Iona. There, in 1921 my father was born. The family then soon returned to south London where my two uncles and two aunts were born and my grandather went on the become the Deputy Head at Tulse Hill Secondary School. He died suddenly in 1961 aged 69. One of my uncles holds his Military Cross for the family and his diary from 1915-16 was first transcribed by my father some ten years ago. This was one of the factors that helped trigger my interest in the war.

2nd Lt Ewen MacDonald MacCormick was a jovial, kindly man who died when I was ten. I wish I could have known him better. I am grateful for his life and for those of his friends who didn't make it back.



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Bmac - this diary has been a very satisfying read. Thanks for posting.


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Ewan MacCormick was my uncle my father Donald was his youngest brother,I have very fond memories of all the family.It is strange as about an hour ago I was looking at our invitation to his daughter Sheilas wedding to Micky Stewart on 7th September 1957 had signed by a lot of the guests. His son Billy was visiting us when we got the message that he had passed away  When we visited at Stretham Hill my male cousind used to tease me as I was younger 

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