John Angus Mackenzie was born in Melness in 1894 , son of John Mackenzie and Mary Mackay of ‘Lubinvullin’ Talmine. They were married in Melness in 1891. John and his brother George may both have been regular soldiers in the Scots Guards, before the outbreak of the First World War. At the start of World War One there were two regular battalions of the Scots Guards and this remained the case until the end of the war. The Scots Guards was the only Scottish Regiment not to call up its territorial battalions or to form new battalions, from the thousands of volunteers who had joined General Kitcheners New Army in 1915.
The 1 Battalion Scots Guards fought at Mons with the B.E.F in August 1914 then took part in the long retreat to the River Marne. The 2 Battalion arrived at the front in October 1914 and fought beside the Belgian Army as it retreated from Antwerp, both battalions then fought around Ypres stemming the massive German attack towards the coast.
In March 1915 the 2 Battalion fought at Neuve Chapelle, with the 1 Battalion in reserve, in May the 2 Battalion fought at Festubert. The battles at both Neuve Chapelle and Festubert were both costly failures as the British troops were decimated by machine gun and artillery fire. On the 27 of September 1915 the British attacked at Loos, the 1 Battalion was in the second wave attacking the German trenches at the Keep and Puits14. The 2 Battalion took part in a Brigade attack on Hill 70 and after taking their objective they consolidated the new line close to the Germans. The Scots Guards were then relieved on the 30 of November, but on the 8 of October were rushed into the line to hold an enemy counter-attack.
In July 1916 both battalions were in reserve for the Battle of the Somme and did not get involved in the fighting until September. On the 10 of September two companies of the 2 Battalion fought alongside the Welsh Guards at Ginchy, the remainder of the battalion then moved into the front line. A general advance was ordered from Ginchy on the 25 of September and the Guards Division quickly took all its objectives. The 1 and 2 Battalions both remained in this sector of the front until the end of the Battle of the Somme in November, during the winter months of 1916-17 both battalions were in the front line patrolling and raiding the enemy lines.
In July 1917 the 1 Scots Guards were in the first wave to attack at the Third Battle of Ypres, taking its first objective without too many casualties. The 2 Battalion then moved into the front and led the attack, again succeeding in taking all its objectives and establishing a defensive line. Both battalions fought at Ypres until the middle of October suffering heavy casualties from machine gun fire, artillery fire and gas attack, before they were withdrawn to reserve.
At the Battle of Cambrai in November both battalions of Scots Guards fought alongside tanks at Flesquieres Ridge and Bourlon Wood. The Guards took heavy casualties during this surprise attack launched on the Hindenburg Line and at first achieved some success however due to a lack of reserves the attack at Cambrai failed.
In March 1918 the Guards Division was in the Arras sector when the enemy launched the first of a number of attacks, breaking through the British lines. The Scots Guards came under heavy artillery fire but were not directly attacked and had to withdraw under the heavy enemy fire to new positions.
Private John Angus Mackenzie was in killed in action by shell -fire on the 9 of April 1918 close to Arras; he was twenty-four years of age. His brother George who had served alongside him in the Scots Guards survived the war and returned home to Melness, two other brothers also served in the First War.
John who served in the Royal Engineers was killed in action (his story appears on this website). Hugh who also survived served in the Army Service Corps.
SCOTTISH NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL EDINBURGH CASTLE Mackenzie John Angus. 13741. Guardsman. (b) Tongue Sutherlandshire. Killed in Action F&F 09-04-18.
COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION Mackenzie Private John Angus 13741. 1 Battalion Scots Guards. 9 April 1918. Age 24. Born in Melness. Son of John and Mary Mackenzie of “Lubinvullin”, Talmine, Lairg, Sutherlandshire. Plot VIII. Row Q. Grave 41.
Guardsman John Angus Mackenzie 13741 1 Battalion Scots Guards is buried in a war grave at CABERET-ROUGE BRITISH CEMETERY, SOUCHEZ, PAS DE CALAIS, FRANCE.