Donald Mackay was born in Tongue in 1893, eldest son of (Piper) John Mackay and Margaret Mackay of 5 South Skinnet, Talmine. They were married in 1886 in Fraserburgh. In 1911 Census Donald is at home in Skinnet with his parents and brothers and sister. His occupation is listed as waiter. Mr John Mackay had served thirty years in the militia, ten of those in the Seaforth Highlanders and twenty in the Highland Light Infantry. Donald enlisted into the Lovat Scouts in Tongue alongside his brother George; before enlisting in the army they were both employed as gamekeepers.
On the 8 of September 1915, the 1 Battalion Lovat Scouts was with the Highland Mounted Brigade that boarded the SS Andania at Devonport bound for the Dardanelles in the Mediterranean. The battalion handed in all its ponies and cavalry kit, embarking for Gallipoli Campaign as infantry.
The Lovat Scout battalion landed at Suvla Bay Gallipoli on the night of 26 and 27 of September, spending the next twelve days in reserve trenches. In reserve they carried out fatigues, unloading ammunition, digging trenches and drawing stores ready to enter the front lines.
On the 6 of October the Scouts moved forward into the front line, remaining two hundred yards from the Turkish lines for the next month. Patrols were sent out at night to recce the enemy trenches, attacks were then launched the following day to try and straighten the line. Many scouts were sent out into no-mans land as snipers, Turkish soldiers became the targets of men who had learnt their skills, stalking deer in the Highlands of Scotland.
In November the Lovat Scouts returned to the reserve trenches, so far casualties had been light mainly caused by sickness. On the 26 of November, the Lovat Scouts returned to the front line as a heavy thunderstorm began at 5pm. A second storm at 7:30pm lasted until 9:15pm, this second storm flooded all the trenches and carried a torrent of water full of dead men and dead horses down onto the British lines. The trenches were almost destroyed beyond use, forcing the Lovat Scouts to shelter near the sea after losing all their kit.
It then began to snow; the temperature was minus eighteen degrees as the frost froze the soaking wet clothing of the soldiers solid. Conditions were unbearable, with water unfit to drink and rations short, some units lost half their strength from exposure and jaundice. Over 6,700 men were evacuated suffering from the effects of the storm that hit Gallipoli that night, the number of dead is not known, most of those who died either drowned or froze to death.
Donald and his brother had been manning a machine gun during the storm and had managed to survive the terrible conditions. As they left the trench together the following day Donald was shot and severely wounded by a Turkish sniper, he died from his wounds shortly afterwards, he was 22 years of age.
George survived the First World War and returned home to live in Melness.