David McKay who served in France with the Seaforth Highlanders



David McKay who served in France with the Seaforth Highlanders


David (Dave) McKay. Private, 5th ,4th and 3rd Seaforth Highlanders.


1. Group photograph of 5th Seaforths at Fort George taken in 1916 before they went to France. Private Dave McKay is fourth from right in the back row. 2 images.
2. Extract from the Inverurie Advertiser dated 2018 with an article entitled “A family tale of the Great War”. It relates the story told by John McKay of his father, Dave McKay, who served in the First World War. 1 image.
3. Photograph taken at the Royal British Legion at Banchory; the year was 1976 as far as can be remembered. Dave McKay is third from right. 1 image.
4. “Mr Dave McKay former cooper, fisherman and soldier”: transcript of an interview on behalf of Buckie District Fishing Heritage Society on 6 June 1988. 4 images.
5. “The Kaiser’s Battle 21 March 1918: The First Day of the German Spring Offensive”. The title page of the book signed by the author of the book, Martin Middlebrook, together with an acknowledgement page which mentions Dave McKay. 2 images.


Dave McKay was my father. He was son of Alexander McKay and Jessie Bruce of Pulteneytown, Wick, Caithness, Scotland. He was born on 24th May 1895. His parents married on 24th September 1885 at Wick. His father was a fisherman. He served in the 5th Seaforth Highlanders and later the 4th and 3rd. I have a group photograph taken in 1916 at Fort George before they went to France which includes Dave. There is an article in the Inverurie Advertiser in which I told the story of Dave. With it being 100 years since the end of the First World war I did not want to leave my father out of the commemorations.

Dave McKay was interviewed for a book that was written by Martin Middlebrook, entitled “The Kaiser’s Battle: 21 March 1918: The First Day of the German Spring Offensive”, released in 1978. The book tells the story of the soldiers on the battlefield. The 1918 German Spring Offensive was called by the Germans “Kaiserschlacht”. It was the last great battle of the First World War when three German armies struck a massive blow against the British. The Germans thought it would bring them victory in the war but it didn’t.

Dave McKay was discharged on 21/02/1919 at Edinburgh due to disablement caused by injury. His discharge documents show something of his service. He enlisted in the 5th Seaforths on 11/11/1912 at Wick. His service number was 2853. His age was given as 17 yr 6 month and trade or occupation as Fisherman. During the war he was in service in France for four periods 01/05/1915 to 22/09/1915, 09/06/1916 to 03/08/1016, 23/12/1916 to 15/04/1917 and 02/01/1918 to 29/03/1918. At discharge he was in the 3rd Seaforths with regimental number 240450.

He had been wounded in action by two bullets near Bapaume, suffering a compound fracture of the Radius. He was in hospital near Boulogne and at the 3rd Northern General Hospital, Sheffield. He had previously been in Bellahouston Hospital (07/08/1916 to 25/08/1916) suffering from shell shock. He was in the 1st Southern General Hospital, Monyhull Section, Birmingham, from 17/04/1917 to 28/07/1017 suffering from a gun shot wound to an arm. He was in hospital again at Ripon from 10/09/1917 to 01/10/1917. He had previously, in civil life, had an amputation of the middle finger of the right hand.

After the war Dave moved to Buckie where he worked as a cooper and a fisherman. He was interviewed on 6 June 1988 on behalf of the Buckie District Fishing Heritage Society; the interview was recorded. In the interview he tells of his life. He refers to being wounded in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in France 1918. He was once buried by a shell and wounded twice in the arm during the battle and was one of 70 who fought on for three days before being wounded again.

Dave McKay passed away in 1994 at the age of 99.

Dave McKay had a brother, Alexander McKay, who died at the Battle of Loos.

I also lost two of my uncles, my mother’s brothers, in the Battle of Jutland in 1916, both of whom were on HMS Invincible.




Wick, Caithness, Scotland. France. Vimy Ridge, France.


John Murray McKay

Collection Day

Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen (27/02/2019)

This item was submitted on June 7, 2019