As Old Saint Paul’s gathers this evening for a requiem mass to honour All Souls, and to remember the dead, we should also remember that only a matter of weeks after the beginning of the war in 1914 the congregation had already lost three of its members.
The first recorded death is that of Lieutenant Mark Kincaid Mackenzie, one of the few professional soldiers on the wall. The son of Charles Kincaid Mackenzie (later Lord Mackenzie) he had been afforded the best private education at Winchester College and then Magdalen College, Oxford. He joined the army in 1911, and started to carve out his career.
On the 25 September, 1914 (aged only 26) he led his platoon into battle with the Germans at Ainse, where he was killed in action.
Lance Corporal Andrew Robb joined the Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) in 1905. A married father with one son and a pregnant wife, Robb was killed in France on 15 October 1914.
Private Robert Bon was a coal miner, living in the Canongate. He, like many others of those commemorated in the memorial chapel, was also a member of the Royal Scots, joining up on 23 April 1912. His character reference was provided by none other than Canon Albert Ernest Laurie himself. He was killed on the same day as Andrew Robb, and the two may even have been fighting together at Croix Barbee
Stoker First Class Hugh Brough had joined the Navy in 1906, and is one of the few men who were not in the regular army. Life as a stoker was incredible tough, although the sheer physicality of the job probably stood him in good stead in his Navy boxing career. The ship he was serving on, HMS Good Hope, was involved in the Battle of Coronel on the 1st November 1914, and was sunk by gunfire with the loss of all hands.
The Old Saint Paul’s WW1 History team are preparing to publish their first booklet commemorating the start of war and the nine men from the congregation, including those above, who died in the first five months after war was declared. We will continue to mark the years mind of those who died as is our tradition for all members of the congregation.
May they rest in peace, and rise in glory.