March­ing as to war... boots that speak of sac­ri­fice

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - Daily Mail Re­porter

AT first glance they look like an un­re­mark­able pair of well-worn leather boots.

Noth­ing about the tired black leather footwear hints at a role in a poignant story of re­mem­brance that spanned most of the last cen­tury.

As Novem­ber 11, 1918, dawned in France, 2nd Lieu­tenant Wil­liam Mac­don­ald, 21, pulled on th­ese boots.

So be­gan a rit­ual act of re­mem­brance loy­ally ad­hered to by Dr Mac­don­ald for most of the rest of his life. Each Armistice Day for al­most 70 years, he donned those same boots to com­mem­o­rate the war, and the lives it claimed.

Of the 63 boys in his sixth-year class of 1913-14 at Ge­orge Wat­son’s Col­lege in Ed­in­burgh, 15 failed to make it home. The grim tally is recorded in metic­u­lous notes kept by Dr Mac­don­ald, which form part of an ar­chive of his let­ters, pho­to­graphs, army train­ing lec­ture notes and me­men­toes.

Dr Mac­don­ald, orig­i­nally from In­ver­gor­don, Ross-shire, served with the Ar­gyll and Suther­land High­landers in France from May 1916. He was in­valided back to the UK the fol­low­ing Jan­uary with trench foot so se­vere it left him un­able to stand.

He was awarded the Mil­i­tary Cross in 1917, and gassed near Pass­chen­daele in 1918. Af­ter com­plet­ing med­i­cal stud­ies at Ed­in­burgh, Dr Mac­don­ald moved to Leeds in 1925 to lec­ture and work as a GP.

Leeds Uni­ver­sity spokesman Dr Jes­sica Meyer said: ‘The touch­ing story of th­ese boots and their owner’s life­long an­nual act of re­mem­brance is a poignant ex­am­ple of those who went on to lead fruit­ful lives, while never for­get­ting the ex­pe­ri­ences of war.’

Dr Mac­don­ald died on De­cem­ber 21, 1989, aged 92, sur­vived by a sis­ter, a son, two daugh­ters, five grand­chil­dren and three great-grand­chil­dren.

Rite: Lt Mac­don­ald

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.