A LEWIS HERO DIES FROM GAS POISONING
The war has taken a heavy toll of the Knock district in common with other districts in the Lewis. Mrs Macleod, 22 Swordale, received intimation recently from the War Office that her son, Torquil Macleod, of the Black Watch, died from the effects of gas poisoning in France.
Torquil, who was a member of the Glasgow Police Force for a number of years, enlisted at the beginning of the war, and after a course of training at home was sent to France with his regiment. He came through many fierce engagements without a scratch, but latterly succumbed from the effects of gas poisoning. A few months ago he was at home on short furlough from France, and on the night he arrived, his brother, Donald, who was previously discharged from the Navy on account of ill health died. It was a great comfort to his poor widowed mother to have him with her in their hour of trouble and bereavement. Torquil was a most dutiful, devoted, and loving son, and the mainstay of his poor mother who now mourns for him. Of her many and sore bereavements this is the hardest to bear. The home at Swordale had to be closed up and she is now staying with a married daughter at Sheshader. Of a family of 4 sons and 3 daughters, there are now only 2 daughters living, and much genuine sympathy is felt for the poor widow in her very sore bereavement.
Torquil was a genuine lad and a great favourite with all who knew him, and his manliness and upright character can be gauged from the following letters, received by his mother.
His Lieut.-Colonel says: "I very much regret to tell you that your son was killed by the fumes of a gas shell on the hight of 5th-6th June. His death is a great loss to the Battalion of which he was a very useful and a very gallant member. He was very highly esteemed by his officers, non-commissioned officers and men, and all had the highest opinion of him both for his upright character and his devotion to duty. Please accept our very sincere sympathy. We all feel the loss of our gallant comrade very deeply."
Mr J. H. Simpson, 2nd Lieut., says: "It is with the deepest regret and sympathy that I write to you regarding the death of your son, Sergt. T. Macleod. He was affected by the fumes of a gas shell on the 5th inst and passed away in hospital on the following day. We buried him with full military honours in the British cemetery here on the evening of the 7th. Your soldier son has died a soldier's death. His Battalion mourn the loss of an excellent soldier; his Company that of a dear friend. That God be with you in this your great bereavement is the wish of the officers and men of B Company, who join with me in sending you their sincerest and heartfelt sympathy".
Lance-Corpl. Archd. Henderson, A Coy., South African Scottish, says: "I am sure it is my boundedn duty to write to you and tell you how your beloved son, Torquil, died on the 5th of this month. He and I were close friends, and strange to say, I came across him shortly before he died. We had quite a conversation together, and during the last few minutes poor Torquil had, he asked me several times if I could please write to you, dear mother, and tell you what happened. I said I would. Well, Mrs Macleod, two of our Divisions, one of which your dear son was in, went over the famous top on the night of the 5th June and as nearly always is the case, took the ground they were asked to take from the enemy. Their performance was really splended, giving yet one more demonstration of the famous Highland regiments. They were sent out in front of the ground which our men now held, to consolidate and generally secure the position. The work of consolidating was completed in the same fine manner that your dear son's regiment is so well known for to all us boys here. They were now returning to their billets when the enemy sent over a number of gas shells which landed amongst your son's Company, catching a number of them unawares. Poor Torquil, together with a few more of his company, received a heavy dose of the gas. In the meantime everything that could possibly be done was seen to and they got down to the dressing-room in very little time, but the treacherous gas had played its tragic part by this time and our dear comrade died, shaking my hand, and his last words were:
"Thank God I have done my duty
Tell mother I said good-bye, and
God bless you my dear mother"
I must tell you in conclusion that your beloved son was one of the most popular members of his regiment and was looked up to and respected by many members of other regiments in the same Division to whom he was well-known for his never tiring watchfulness over comrades who had not known as much as he died about the barbarous methods of the Hun. He was always willing to give anyone his best advice. I sympathise with you, dear Mrs Macleod, in the loss of one of the noblest young men that ever went into battle on behalf of his native land, and all his comrades in my regiment wish me to convey to you their deep sorrow and regret at losing so true a comrade, and sincerely trust you will not grieve, as it is God's own will".