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William Mackay

William Mackay was born in Durness on the 2nd February 1897.

William in a letter home to his Mother describes his first experience of going ‘’over the bags’’ during the first day of the Battle of Arras. His Battalion the 6th Seaforth Highlanders were tasked with attacking three lines of enemy trenches east of Roclincourt.

The Battle of Arras, 9th April to 16th May 1917, was a British offensive involving British, Canadian, South African, New Zealand, Newfoundland and Australian troops in an attack on German defences near the French city of Arras on the Western Front.

William was in “C” Company which was deployed on the right of the advancing line and contributed towards the capture of the first two German lines.

Despite major gains on this first day the remainder of the Battle of Arras resulted in stalemate. On the final day of the battle William was involved in fierce fighting around the Chemical Works in Roux.

On the last day of the battle on the 16th May German troops began to advance through the Chemical Works and had taken an Allied trench. “C” and “D” Company were ordered to push the advancing soldiers back and it was during fierce fighting around the Chemical Works that William was killed.

Accounts of the fighting from 1st April to 31st May are detailed in the 6th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders War Diary which is on display.

Read more about William and his fellow pipers in our 32-page booklet

Buy it now on Our Publications page