Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Second Lieutenant Douglas Hamlin McKie, 3rd Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers, was wounded by shellfire during the Battle of Arras in France, and died on the way to the front line aid post.
Before the war he had been working in Brazil as a bank clerk with the London and Brazilian Bank. When the Great War broke out he believed, as many did, that the conflict would be brief. By the summer of 1915, after his family had kept him informed with news of the war, he had decided to return home, and enlisted as a private with the Artist’s Rifles. He was seriously injured during training and not discharged from hospital until May of 1916, at which time he took a commission with the Northumberland Fusiliers.
Three days before his death he wrote to his mother: "My dearest Mother, There isn't much time before things begin to rip. I have had my first baptism of fire, a six inch landed a few hundred yards from us yesterday. Our own guns are creating a tremendous row, but placed just beside our billet is rapidly shaking our slate off the roof. My hair oil jumped about a foot from the table when it was firing this morning. We are quite near the line now, this afternoon I am going up with another man to reconnoitre some of our trenches. The village we are in has suffered a great deal from Boche shells. One we marched through on the firing line has every other cottage knocked out. Well I am beginning to get wise to the first part of it - it all makes one wonderfully excited. I have just been detailed to go up to the trenches this morning instead of this afternoon so goodbye. Fondest love to everyone. Your affectionate Son, Douglas"
Just over a week after his death, Second Lieutenant McKie’s family received a letter from his commander: “‘I am most distressed to have to write to you about the death of your gallant son. Though he was with us for so short a time he succeeded by his courage and splendid example during the attack in gaining the confidence of his men and the admiration of the Officers over him." He is buried in the Roclincourt Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
Douglas, from Bayswater, was 24 years old.