The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

George William McIsaac

McISAAC, George William

George William McIsaac was born on the 10th of May 1892 in the Police Station in the village of Dalmally in the parish of Glenorchy and Inishail, Argyllshire to Archibald McIsaac and Eliza Noble. Archibald and Eliza, an Englishwoman, married in 1884 in Manchester where Archibald, from North Uist, was working as a police constable. They returned to Scotland where their first child, Margaret, was born in 1885 in the parish of Kilmore and Kilbride near Oban. They then moved north west to the village of Acharacle where four more children were born, including George, in 1890, who died in infancy. The family had moved to Glenorchy by the time George William, known as Geordie, was born, followed by Archibald Noble in 1895 and the death the same year of six year old Alexander. The 1901 census showed the family of five children, three girls and the two boys, but by 1911 only Geordie and Archie were at home. Margaret had married in 1910 and had a son Jack.

Geordie and Archie enlisted  in the Black Watch, (Royal Highlanders), Archie’s record showing that he did so at Hawick, Roxburghshire but not the date. Geordie’s medal record shows that he first arrived in France on the 7th of October 1915. Their brother-in-law, George Boyd Neill, also enlisted in the Black Watch, in the 6th Battalion. Certainly by 1917, if not before, Geordie and Archie were both in the 9th Battalion, the former a Lance Corporal, the latter a Sergeant. Archie died of wounds on the 28th of April during the Battle of Arras.
In August 1917 during the 3rd Battle of Ypres Geordie McIsaac received a gunshot wound to his face and subsequently lost an eye. He received the Military Medal for his actions, the citation reading “He has been awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery near Pommern Redoubt … He succeeded under heavy fire in rescuing his Commander’s body”. He was evacuated on the hospital ship Grantully Castle and was brought to Huddersfield Military Hospital.

On recovery he was transferred to the 3rd Reserve Battalion which had been in Ireland since November 1917. In March 1918 his brother-in-law George Boyd Neill was killed in action in France. Presumably returning home on leave in October 1918, Geordie McIsaac travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th with three other soldiers of the Black Watch. Those three died in the sinking but Geordie Mc Isaac survived and was rescued. Archie McIsaac is remembered on the Dalmally war memorial and also on the memorial in Ardgour Parish Church. Geordie later received a small medallion inscribed “A TOKEN OF GRATITUDE FROM GLEN ORCHY TO HER GALLANT SONS”.

Geordie McIsaac was discharged from the army on the 6th of April 1919 and returned to Dalmally, a twenty-seven year old Gaelic speaker, tall and once athletic, but now somewhat hampered by a false eye and a leg problem. In 1923 he was appointed Postmaster in nearby Connel and in November 1925 he married Margaret Walker Yule whose father was Station Master at Bridge of Orchy. They had two daughters, Rita and Betty, and between them Geordie and Margaret ran the Connel post office for fifty-one years. When Archibald retired from the police he and Eliza also moved to Connel, living beside Geordie and his family. Geordie was a Lieutenant in the Home Guard during WW2. He died in 1951 aged fifty-eight. His eldest sister Margaret emigrated to the US in 1920 and remarried while his two other sisters never married and lived into their eighties. Margaret McIsaac née Yule lived until 1974.



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