An Appreciation by W. G. M
A wave of sorrow passed over the district of Back, when the news arrived on Tuesday last that Willie John Macleod had been killed in Baku, and there were many manifestations of sorrow over the death of one who had laboured so long and faithfully in their midst. Mr Macleod came to Back School in 1908, and was still on the staff when the great war started. When the call for volunteers came he promptly joined up under the Derby Scheme, but so keen was he to "do his bit" that he asked permission to go at once. This, although denied him, did not delay him long, and he left for Fort Geroge where he was enrolled in the HLI. He received his training at Nigg Camp and his varied experiences there were duly recorded in the Gazette, and were much appreciated by your readers.
His training completed, he paid a short visit to Stornoway and Back, and then left to do garrison duty in Salonika. A touch o fmalarial fever necessitated his removal to Malta, after which he rejoined his unit. At the close of last year, a call was made for vlunteers for what we shall call the "Russian mission". Mr Macleod, whose sense of duty was always of the highest, at once volunteered and though the undertaking was known to be a dangerous one he never flinched and entered on his new career with high hopes, with what fateful result we, alas, know. His journey to India, Basra, Bagdad and Persia, was full of interest and many thrilling experiences, which he related in letters from time to time, letters which lie before me as I write but which for military reasons could not then be published. On the 26th June he was then in sight of his journey's end and finally reached Baku, only to be killed on behalf of those who had so treacherously betrayed them.
Mr Macleod's quiet, modest, unassuming and genial disposition endeared him to all those who came into contact. Never could one adapt himself to his surroundings so well as he, never did we meet such an optimist, such a veritable "Mark Tapley". He was one of the few we ever met who could join heartily in a laugh against himself. The various letters from his pen which duly appeared in the "Gazette" showed that he had the gift of letter writing, nothing banal ever appearing in them.
His death is a distinctg loss to the profession, for he was a most enthusiastic, painstaking and successful teacher. The excellent work he did in Back School, will not soon be forgotten. Mr Macleod was always seen at his best and was never happier than which doing service to others, and in the days to come we will often see:
The vacant chair and think
How good how kind! and he is gone.
27 September 1918