Major-General Sir Hector Archibald Macdonald 1853-1903
(K.C.B., D.S.O., A.D.C., L.L.D.)
Hector Macdonald, a crofter's son, began his military career as a private in the British army, and later became a Major General. Hector Macdonald fought in the Afghan war and both Boer wars. Distinguished himself when he saved the British army from total destruction at the Battle of Omdurman.
At the Battle of Omdurman Macdonald's brigade met the attacking Dervishes with heavy fire, Macdonald kept his troops well organized and disciplined, he continually maneuvered the lines to meet the ongoing threat of the attacking Dervishes.
"Amid the roar of the firing and the dust, smoke and confusion of the charge of front, the general [Macdonald] found time to summon the officers of IX Sudanese around him, rebuked them for having wheeled into line in anticipation of his order, and requested them to drill more steadily in brigade."- Winston Churchill
Before long other regiments began to arrive and backup Macdonald's lines, the firing upon the Dervishes was so intense that they began to retreat, fleeing into the desert. At the battles end 10,000 Dervishes lay dead, 16,000 wounded, and 5,000 prisoners. The battle was over the British army saved, the army lost 48 men and 382 wounded. At the end of the day, when the ammunition from Macdonald's brigades was counted, there were two rounds per man. The British army won the battle and avenged the death of General Gordon of Khartoum. Macdonald was the hero of the day and truly saved the British army.
Hector Archibald Macdonald’s tragic end came in 1903, from allegations and rumors of crimes that were unproven.
General Macdonald was sent to Ceylon as commander of the forces on the Island.
Macdonald was despised by the leaders in Ceylon who felt that they should not have to answer to someone of such "low breeding".
Dearest Mab, Do you really mean to say that, besides your-
self, three ladies (all up-country ones,,too) were the only
ones who went to see our new General arrive? ... Then,
dear, you know we heard a whispered rumour that he does not
like ladies, and possibly may have been pleasantly sur-
prised to find he had dropped on a spicy little Isle where
ladies were few and far between.
Times of Ceylon 1903
On a Sunday morning at the Hotel Regina in Paris, Hector came down from his room to the lobby to get the morning paper and sat down to breakfast. Macdonald opened the paper and was shocked at what he saw in the headlines "grave charge", a witness said a look of despair came across Hector’s face as he held his head low and stared at the paper. Hector got up and walked slowly up the stairs and entered his room, sat on the bed, raised the revolver to his head and shot himself.
The people of Ceylon had questioned his age, and that Hector was not married. In fact Hector was married and had a son, and the fact that Lord Kitchener did not allow his officers to marry, Hector kept his marriage a secret for years.
When Hector’s wife Christina Macdonald came to Paris to claim Hector’s body, the British government was stunned to learn that Macdonald had a wife and son. The government then offered Lady Macdonald a heroes funeral, Lady Macdonald basically said: no leave us alone.
The fact that Hector committed suicide, most would see it as a act of guilt. In fact Hector Macdonald was suffering from Dysentery, was in general poor health, and greatly depressed, his suicide might not of been a act of guilt, just poor judgment of a poorly beaten down man. A great Highland hero had been destroyed, and his accomplishments to the British Empire forgotten.