It is with profound regret that we have to record the death in France of Sergt Donald Macarthur, Seaforths, only son of Mr Donald Macarthur, 1 Kirkbost, the news of which reached Bernera early last week. At the outbreak of war, Sergt Macarthur was engaged at the herring fishing in Fraserburgh, but being in the Special Reserve of the Seaforths, he had to respond to the call on mobilisation, and was early sent to the front, and has been there all the time, excepting when in hospital. His experiences there were exciting, and previous to this he had been wounded four times. On a very few occasions he had short leave at home, the last time being about the New Year. As was usual when Donald was at home, the writer of this paragraph had many talks with him and shortly before he left we remarked that a soldier who could show such an armful of wounded stripes ought to be allowed to stay on duty at home, and let someone else have a turn in the firing line. But no, Donald "Crost" as he was familiarly called, was keen on getting back to the firing line. In his letters from the front to the writer, the last of which was received only a few weeks ago, he was the spirit of cheeriness and was looking forward to the time when all this frightfulness would be at an end and he would be once more back amongst us in Bernera. However, this was not to be and poor Donald has made the supreme sacrifice and now lies buried in a military cemetery in France. Much sympathy is extneded from all to his sorrowing parents and sister in their great affliction.
Letters of sympathy
Some idea of Sergt Macarthur's popularity in hi sbattalion may be gathered from the letters received from the Chaplain and one of his officers, and although their kind expressions may be but poor comfort to his bereaved relatives, yet in after years it will always be some consolation to know that he was all that a good soldier should be.
Lieut George Stewart wrote to Mr Macarthur:
"Before this letter reaches you, you will have had intimation of the death of your son Donald, but as I have known him intimately for over seven months I trust you will accept my sincere sympathy in your loss. He was Sergeant of the platoon which I have commanded since August last, and no officer could wish for a better Sergeant or a braver man. Durin gthe time we were together we beguiled many a weary hour in the trenches talking of our native islands, Lewis and Skye, and only a week ago, one lovely afternoon in the trenches, he was giving me a vivid description of the mountains of Bernera. I was away from the battalion for a few days on duty, and on my return yesterday was deeply grieved to hear of his death. He was very popular with all the officers and men, and while we all feel that we have lost a good Sergeant, I personally know I have lost a very good friend. HHe was an old soldier in France when I joined the battalion, and I shall never forget the help he gave me in connection with my duties both in the trenches and behind the line. I have not yet had particulars about his death, but anything I may be able to gather later I will give you. Please accept my sincere sympathy."
Chaplain William Crawford wrote:
"I have sad news to break to you. Your son, Sergt. D. Macarthur, 6831, has been killed in action. On the 244th he was wounde din action. It was not of a serious character, and he was able to walk down to the advanced dressing station. After attention there he was placed in an ambulance to be taken down the line. The car had not proceeded far down the main road, when a shell landed on it, killing all its occupants save one. Your son was killed instantly. His death has occasioned much deep and general regret. Sergt. Macarthur was held in the highest respect and had a long record of splended service with the battalion. None will miss him more than the officers of his own company. His company commander says:
"He was my best Sergeant. The battalion will feel his loss, but we who knew him as a comrade, and for his constant cheeriness. We feel very sorry for you for yours is the greater loss. May God be your strength and hope in this hour. I wish also to tell you that he lies buried in the Arras Military Cemetery.
A "Friend" writes: On the 3rd of April, the "Hand of the Reaper" once more cast a deep gloom upon this whole community, when intimation was received by Mr Donald Macarthur, 1 Kirkbost, Bernera, that his only surviving son, Donald, was killed in action in France on the 24th of March. He joined the colours when war broke out in 1914, and went across to France with some of the first sent there. Son afterwards, he attained the rank of Sergeant, was wounded four times, and got the final hit on the above-mentioned date, when he was wounded for the fifth time but not seirously. He walked unaided tot he dressing-station, got attention there, and was placed in an ambulance-car to be sent down the line. The car had not proceeded far downt he main road, when a shell struck it, killing all the occupants except one. Donald was killed instantly"
Donald was known to us all as Domhnull Crost and one and all of us feel deeply with his father and mother and sisters in their hour of trial. Mr Macarthur had lost four sons before now but this seems to be the deepest sorrow of all. May God be their help and strength.
19 April 1918