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TITLE
Hector Macdonald National Memorial, Dingwall
EXTERNAL ID
QZP40_CARD_0391
PLACENAME
Dingwall
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
ROSS: Dingwall
DATE OF IMAGE
1908
PERIOD
1900s
SOURCE
Highland Libraries
ASSET ID
32312
KEYWORDS
postcards
hills
monuments
heroes
provosts
Hector Macdonald National Memorial, Dingwall

This postcard from 1908 shows the Hector Macdonald National Memorial, Dingwall

This imposing monument was built by public subscription on Mitchell Hill, Dingwall in memory of the Scottish hero, a popular and much loved local man, Sir Hector Macdonald or "Fighting Mac" as he was known.

Mitchell Hill was named after John Mitchell who was appointed provost of Dingwall in 1870. He was a bank agent who at his own expense drained and planted Kempfield which is now called Mitchell Hill.

The monument was designed by the architect James Sandford Kay. The foundation stone was laid on September 25th 1905 and the monument was opened to great ceremony on Thursday 23rd May 1907.

Hector Archibald Macdonald was born in the Black Isle in 1853. The son of a crofter, William MacDonald, he worked as a stable boy and then as a draper's assistant in Dingwall and in Inverness before he joined the Gordon Highlanders as a private.
In his first year in India his knowledge of the drill book earned him his first promotion to drill sergeant. By 1874 he had attained the rank of colour sergeant. His first mention in dispatches was for leading an attack party in Afghanistan for which he was thanked personally by Lord Roberts.

In the same year he was offered the choice of a Victoria Cross or a commission. He chose the latter. By 1881 he was a First Lieutenant. He was then sent to South Africa where he was again mentioned in dispatches.

After returning to the England he volunteered his services in the Sudan and served with the Egyptian army where he was promoted to captain. Gallant and distinguished conduct resulted in another mention in dispatches and a D.S.O. He earned the nick name "Fighting Mac" and promotion to Major. It was at Omduran in 1898 that his skill reached its height. Unexpectedly attacked by 10,000 Dervish forces he and his men not only held their ground but beat off the opposition. The Nile valley was taken by the British, the Dervishes were annihilated and the murder of General Gordon at Khartoum was avenged. Macdonald returned to Britain to a hero's welcome. He was made a brevet colonel and aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria and promoted to Brigadier General.

Macdonald served again in India and was the recalled to South Africa to take command of the Highland Brigade. He took part in action in the Brandwater basin which saw the surrender of 4000 Boers in July 1900. He was again mentioned in dispatches. The King bestowed on him the honour of Knight Commander of the Bath and he was promoted to Major-General.

The brilliant and distinguished career of a national hero came to an end on the morning of 25th March 1903. While serving in Ceylon grave charges of homosexuality were made against him. Having been sent to England on leave he was returning to Ceylon via Paris to face a court marshall. In his hotel he read a New York Times report of the charges against him and in despair went to his room and shot himself.

Only on his death did it emerge that he had a wife and son. His widow arranged for her husband to be buried in secrecy at 6am on Monday 30th March in Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh.

The public was shocked not only at the allegations but also at the nature of the funeral. On the first Sunday after his burial 30,000 people visited the grave. People queued for three hours to pay their respects and there were so many flowers that the superintendent of the cemetery refused to take any more. Many believed that Macdonald was a victim of class prejudice. Rumours abounded and even today many questions surrounding the tragic death of a brave soldier, whose rise through the ranks was unprecedented, remain unanswered.

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Hector Macdonald National Memorial, Dingwall

ROSS: Dingwall

1900s

postcards; hills; monuments; heroes; provosts

Highland Libraries

Highland Libraries' Postcard Collection

This postcard from 1908 shows the Hector Macdonald National Memorial, Dingwall<br /> <br /> This imposing monument was built by public subscription on Mitchell Hill, Dingwall in memory of the Scottish hero, a popular and much loved local man, Sir Hector Macdonald or "Fighting Mac" as he was known.<br /> <br /> Mitchell Hill was named after John Mitchell who was appointed provost of Dingwall in 1870. He was a bank agent who at his own expense drained and planted Kempfield which is now called Mitchell Hill.<br /> <br /> The monument was designed by the architect James Sandford Kay. The foundation stone was laid on September 25th 1905 and the monument was opened to great ceremony on Thursday 23rd May 1907.<br /> <br /> Hector Archibald Macdonald was born in the Black Isle in 1853. The son of a crofter, William MacDonald, he worked as a stable boy and then as a draper's assistant in Dingwall and in Inverness before he joined the Gordon Highlanders as a private.<br /> In his first year in India his knowledge of the drill book earned him his first promotion to drill sergeant. By 1874 he had attained the rank of colour sergeant. His first mention in dispatches was for leading an attack party in Afghanistan for which he was thanked personally by Lord Roberts.<br /> <br /> In the same year he was offered the choice of a Victoria Cross or a commission. He chose the latter. By 1881 he was a First Lieutenant. He was then sent to South Africa where he was again mentioned in dispatches.<br /> <br /> After returning to the England he volunteered his services in the Sudan and served with the Egyptian army where he was promoted to captain. Gallant and distinguished conduct resulted in another mention in dispatches and a D.S.O. He earned the nick name "Fighting Mac" and promotion to Major. It was at Omduran in 1898 that his skill reached its height. Unexpectedly attacked by 10,000 Dervish forces he and his men not only held their ground but beat off the opposition. The Nile valley was taken by the British, the Dervishes were annihilated and the murder of General Gordon at Khartoum was avenged. Macdonald returned to Britain to a hero's welcome. He was made a brevet colonel and aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria and promoted to Brigadier General.<br /> <br /> Macdonald served again in India and was the recalled to South Africa to take command of the Highland Brigade. He took part in action in the Brandwater basin which saw the surrender of 4000 Boers in July 1900. He was again mentioned in dispatches. The King bestowed on him the honour of Knight Commander of the Bath and he was promoted to Major-General.<br /> <br /> The brilliant and distinguished career of a national hero came to an end on the morning of 25th March 1903. While serving in Ceylon grave charges of homosexuality were made against him. Having been sent to England on leave he was returning to Ceylon via Paris to face a court marshall. In his hotel he read a New York Times report of the charges against him and in despair went to his room and shot himself.<br /> <br /> Only on his death did it emerge that he had a wife and son. His widow arranged for her husband to be buried in secrecy at 6am on Monday 30th March in Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh.<br /> <br /> The public was shocked not only at the allegations but also at the nature of the funeral. On the first Sunday after his burial 30,000 people visited the grave. People queued for three hours to pay their respects and there were so many flowers that the superintendent of the cemetery refused to take any more. Many believed that Macdonald was a victim of class prejudice. Rumours abounded and even today many questions surrounding the tragic death of a brave soldier, whose rise through the ranks was unprecedented, remain unanswered.