November 6th 1915

Yesterday, Mrs Hum (Lynam) received this touching letter from Alasdair Macdonell’s mother:

6 Chad letter 1


Dear Mrs Lynam,

I could not write and thank you and Mr Lynam before, so only sent a formal card. I am enclosing one of the cards in memory of my boy – Mr Billson was an old college friend of my husband’s and knew Alasdair since he was a baby. I like the verses on the back so much. You were quite right in what you said. The bond between



6 Chad letter 2my boy and me was ideal – he was the most tender loving son any mother could have, and so unselfish and bright – for all his thoughts as he left were for me and his father and sisters but not a thought for himself or his danger. If letters could help (and they do) the number we have had from his friends whom we never knew would make any mother proud – and the tender note in them all was wonderful –  showing what intense love they all bore him – please thank your husband for his more than kind letter.

Yours very sincerely,

M. Louise Macdonell



Macdonell card 1

Macdonell card 2

October 16th 1915

Alasdair Macdonell

2nd Lieut. Alasdair Macdonell (Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders)

News of Alasdair’s death has come as the greatest of shocks to our community. Living next door – at 6 Chadlington Road – Professor & Mrs Macdonell are well known to us all. Alasdair we have known all his life. He was at the Front for a mere ten days before he was killed, in the renewal of the offensive at Loos three days ago.

The family have received this account of his death (on October 13th) from the Colonel of his Regiment:

“We only know that he was acting most gallantly with an advanced party of bombers down a trench leading into the German line. The actual portion of the trench where he was, was unfortunately regained by the Germans, and is still in their hands; hence nobody can say what actually happened to him…”

The Adjutant has provided some further detail:

“He was seen to fall wounded and a great many bombs, both ours and German, afterwards landed in the trench close to where your son fell, and we fear that he must have been killed by one of these.”

Another officer adds:

“We were unable to recover his body, as we had to build obstacles after he fell to prevent the enemy getting into our trenches.”


Alasdair, as a boy at the OPS, displayed many talents, performing in three of our Shakespeare plays, for example – but he was too shy and reserved to come into the front rank of our actors.

I think of Alasdair as one of the finest performers (if not the finest) in athletic sports we have had at the school. His record long jump of 17 ft 1 in marked him out as an athlete of promise. Indeed, when up at Balliol College, he won his Blue (and he was also captain of the Oxford ice-hockey team that played against Cambridge).

Yet another Old Dragon for whom one would have hoped for great things in life…