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  • Christina Drummond

Captain Allastair Malcolm Cluny McReady-Diarmid V.C., 17th (S) Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment (Du

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Captain Allastair Malcolm Cluny McReady-Diarmid V.C., 17th (S) Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge's Own), was killed in action in the Moeuvres Sector in France.

One of four sons of a civil servant, he attended Queen Elizabeth's Grammar Preparatory School for Boys in Barnet, Hertfordshire, Victoria College in Jersey, and Ealing Grammar School. He received his commission in March of 1915. Although born with the surname Drew, he was asked by his Colonel to change his name, which he agreed to do – apparently there were many men of that surname and the Colonel believe that the name change by deed poll would reduce confusion. He was wounded in 1915 and during four months of convalescence in Gloucestershire he met and married one of his nurses; sadly his family did not approve of his choice of bride and there was an uresolved rift. He was promoted to Lieutenant in July of 1917, and then Acting Captain three months later.

On the day of his death he was in the fighting in the Moeuvres Sector in France, for which he earned the posthumous Victoria Cross. The citation reads: “For most conspicuous bravery and brilliant leadership. When the enemy penetrated some distance into our position and the situation was extremely critical, Captain McReady-Diarmid at once led his company forward through a heavy barrage. He immediately engaged the enemy with such success that he drove them back at least 300 yards, causing numerous casualties and capturing 27 prisoners. The following day the enemy again attacked and drove back another company which had lost all its officers. This gallant officer at once called for volunteers and attacked. He drove them back again for 300 yards, with heavy casualties. Throughout this attack Captain McReady-Diarmid led the way himself, and it was absolutely and entirely due to his marvellous throwing of bombs that the ground was regained. His absolute disregard for danger, his cheerfulness and coolness at a most trying time inspired all who saw -him. This most gallant officer was eventually killed by a bomb when the enemy had been driven right back to their original starting point.”

His body was not recovered and he is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial to the Missing at Louveral. He is named on the Dursley War Memorial, and the Victoria College Memorial; one of the college’s school houses was named after him.

Allastair, from New Southgate in Middlesex, was 29 years old and married with a baby daughter.

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