James Murray McLaggan
Royal Army Medical Corps
Died 4 October 1918
Capt. J.M. McLaggan M.C. – R.A.M.C.
James Murray McLaggan was born on 19 July 1891 at the Town & County Bank, Torphins. He was the son of a banker, James McLaggan of Tollapark, Kinross, and his wife Sarah Ann Murray, who had married at Newburgh in 1882. In 1901 the family was living at Bank House, Torphins and at that time James was one of six children – four girls and two boys – ranging in age from 16 to 4. He attended school at Torphins and later at Robert Gordons College and (from 1908) the University of Aberdeen where he graduated Bachelor of Medicine in 1913.
McLaggan was working as a house physician at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary when war broke out, and immediately enlisted, receiving a temporary commission in the Royal Army Medical Corps on 22 August 1914. He was sent to Nettley Hospital and was then attached to the 3rd Bn. Royal Fusiliers, with whom he served throughout the war, first of all in France from January of 1915. He was awarded the Military Cross at the battle of Loos “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during the operations of 27th to 30th September 1915, when he attended to the wounded in the firing line under heavy shell and rifle fire. His coolness and skill undoubtedly saved many lives. For three days and four nights he worked incessantly with unflagging energy”. Following the Battle of Loos, the 3rd Bn were ordered to Salonika via Egypt in order to support Serbian forces against the Bulgarians. In July 1918 they moved back to France where McLaggan was offered, and refused, an administrative job.
On 4 October 1918, when McLaggan was killed in action, the battalion was engaged, as part of the 149th Brigade, 50th Division, in the Allied advance on the Hindenburg defences between Le Catelet and Vendhuile towards a redoubt at Richmond Copse, in the course of which they had to descend a slope to the Scheldt Canal and then climb up the opposite side, under heavy fire. In so doing they took prisoner a large number of enemy machine-gunners, but had to retreat more or less to their starting point, finding themselves practically isolated at the point of their objective. Casualties were extremely heavy, though the capture of enemy gunners facilitated a subsequent more lasting advance over the same ground. In the course of this action, only five weeks before the Armistice, McLaggan was shot and killed by a sniper while tending a wounded man. The Division’s Assistant Director Medical Services wrote of him: “Captain McLaggan had a very high sense of duty, and his constant thought was for the well-being of the men. The manner of his death was exactly like his life – with complete disregard to his personal safety he went to attend to his fallen C.O. when he himself fell a victim”. He is buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery, Gouy.