Nursing Sister Mary Margaret Murray Mackay was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada. On her father’s death in 1933 (Angus was only 38 years old), the family returned home to Torbreck, Rogart. When her mother Jane, née Matheson, passed away in 1923, aged only 33 years, Mary along with her brothers Jack and George went to live with their grandmother, Mrs George Matheson, of Alistair Road, Golspie.
The three Mackay children, who are pictured here at Torbreck, went on to lead distinguished lives. Mary achieved the rank of Sister in the Territorial Army Nursing Service during the Second World War. Her serial number was 213896.
Only 31 years of age, Mary passed away in hospital in the Middle East on Saturday 12th August 1944 following an operation. “This sudden and untimely death causes a blank in the family circle which nothing can fill. Her high ideals, love to help and encourage specially fitted her for nursing work. Her whole heart was in her mission of mercy.”
She was buried at Khayat Beach War Cemetery, Haifa, Israel and is listed on the Golspie War Memorial, the Women’s Services Roll of Honour, and The Scottish National War Memorial, Edinburgh Castle.
Mary’s older brother Sergeant John (Jack) MacKay, was born at Torbreck, in 1915. He went to Canada with his parents when a child, residing in North Battleford, Saskatchewan.
During the Second World War Jack served in the Royal Air Force and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal in 1943. He was an observer and air gunner who had participated in many bombing raids over enemy territory and ‘performed his duties in a steady reliable manner’.
The Northern Times reported: “Jack received his advanced education in Golspie Secondary School on completion of which he said his apprenticeship with John Cunningham, iron monger, Golspie. From there he went to Glasgow, and was in the employment of Messrs Fleming’s when he joined the Royal Air Force. Many friends, both north and south, unite in offering this young and gallant airman their heartiest congratulations on the distinction so worthily bestowed upon him.”
Jack, who died a few years ago, used to come up north whenever he could, including making visits to Golspie and Rogart. His ashes were scattered at the churchyard in Rogart where his ancestors are buried. Full of stories and love for life, and still doing work for an air service charity when he was at an age when you have expected him to be one of the recipients!
The third of the siblings was George Mackay. He too served in WW2 as a Lance Bomardier. He is pictured with his wife, Nancy and young daughter. The three grandchildren were testament to their upbringing by their grandmother Mrs Matheson, of Alistair Road, Golspie.
Thanks to Helen Smith, Inverness and her family for this tribute.