A Canadian Casualty Military Cross Group for 1916 Action
A Canadian Casualty Military Cross Group for 1916 Action - Military Cross, GRV; British War Medal (A. CAPT. A.H.R. MAC KAY.); and Victory Medal (A. CAPT. A.H.R. MAC KAY.). Naming is officially impressed. Un-mounted, original ribbons, pinback on the MC, dark patina on the BWM, light contact and gilt wear on the VM, with Memorial Plaque (ALEXANDER HERBERT ROBINS MACKAY), near extremely fine. Accompanied by copies his Attestation Paper, Service Records, Court of Enquiry Report (dated March 22, 1917 and stamped March 27, 1917) and London Gazette, page 11079 (dated November 14, 1916, with his citation for the Military Cross). Footnote: Alexander Herbert Robins MacKay was born on June 16, 1888 in Lanaca, Cyprus. He signed his Attestation Paper on September 23, 1914 at Camp Valcartier, Quebec, naming his next-of-kin as his stepfather, Mr. Justice Stuart of Limassol, Cyprus, that he had previous military service in Peru, that he currently belonged to an active militia, the 19th Alberta Dragoons as a Sergeant, that he was not married and that his trades and previous positions included Ship's Officer, Policeman and Rancher. By early 1915, he was in the French theatre as a Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant with the Divisional Mounted Cavalry (Troops). While at Rouen, he was reprimanded for attempting to sell Government Property on February 12, 1915 and reverted to the rank of Private. He was appointed Lance Corporal on May 28, 1915 and by mid-summer, was taken on strength by the 5th Infantry Battalion from the Divisional Mounted Cavalry on July 24th, acquiring the rank of Temporary Lieutenant. MacKay was hospitalized on March 7, 1916 for one month, then reported for duty, posted to the General List and attached to the 32nd Infantry Battalion on April 9, 1916. Five weeks later, he was hospitalized again on May 11th, which was followed by his attendance at the 10th Officer's Course beginning on June 14th. He proceeded overseas to the 5th Infantry Battalion on July 1st and was named Acting Captain on September 3rd. Lieutenant MacKay was with the 5th Infantry Battalion, "Western Canadian Cavalry" Battalion of the Saskatchewan Regiment when he was awarded his Military Cross, on October 12, 1916, as documented in the London Gazette, page 11079 on November 14, 1916 and in the Canada Gazette, page 2078, on December 23, 1916: "For conspicuous gallantry in action. He obtained communication with the right half of his company under very heavy fire, displaying great courage and determination. Later, he carried out a valuable reconnaissance." Sixteen weeks after he was awarded his Military Cross, now a Captain, he was accidentally killed during a machine-gun demonstration on February 2, 1917. A Court of Enquiry was assembled in the Field on March 22, 1917, by order of The Assistant Adjutant-General, Canadian Section, 3rd Echelon, for the purpose of "enquiring into the circumstances under which Capt. A.H.R. MacKay met his death", the court consisting of three members: Major K.A. Mahaffy, Captain J. Findlay and Captain E. Day. Three witnesses testified before the court: Lieutenant A.M. Boyd, Lieutenant J.D. Cumming and Lieutenant W. Willis, all of the 5th Canadian Infantry Battalion. Lieutenant Boyd stated that "On the 2nd day of February 1917 Capt. A. H. R. MacKay expressed the desire to have a demonstration of the Lewis Gun given to him by Lieut. W. Willis. On the evening of the above date a Lewis Gun was brought to the Mess Room of "B" Company. With the Gun were a few cartridges which I did not examine, but which I took for granted to be dummies. Lieut. Willis began his demonstration by stripping the Gun, I did not pay particular attention to what was being done or said. I heard the report of the Gun and looking up saw Capt. MacKay sitting right opposite the muzzle of the Gun. He was staring wildly and realizing that something had happened to him I ran to his assistance as also did Lieut. Willis. Looking at Lieut. Willis, Capt. MacKay said, "Good-bye old chap - write to my wife". He expired immediately afterwards. Lieut. Cummings ran for the doctor who arrived about seven minutes after the accident had occurred." The testimony of both Lieutenants Findlay and Day concurred and were similar in content. The Court of Enquiry found that Captain MacKay had met his death accidentally: "The court after hearing the evidence finds that the deceased Capt. A.H.R. MacKay, met his death accidently by the discharge of a cartridge supposed to be a dummy, by which its appearance justified the demonstrating Officer in so regarding it.", signed by Major K.A. Mahaffy. An additional note stating "I have no doubt whatever that Capt. MacKay's death was purely accidental, & I am quite sure that all precautions were observed. I quite agree with the finding of the court." was handwritten on the last page of the report and signed by Lieutenant Hugh M. Dyer, Officer Commanding, 5th Canadian Infantry Battalion.