|Date of Birth||November 29, 1893|
|Place of Birth||Maybole, Ayrshire|
|Next of Kin||Wm. McKie (father), Keewatin, Ontario.|
|Trade / Calling||Miller|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||May 25, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||21|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||June 5, 1916|
|Age at Death||22|
|Buried At||Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium|
|Plot||VII. B. 15.|
Private Allan Paton McKie enlisted in the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion in May 1915. He died of wounds a year later during the Battle of Mount Sorrel.
Allan was the youngest child of William McKie and Agnes Hill. William and Agnes were married in December 1875 in Girvan, Ayrshire, Scotland. They had nine children, seven sons (James, William, Samuel, John, Alexander, David and Allan) and two daughters (Mary and Elizabeth). The older children were born in Girvan. Around 1880 the family moved to the nearby town of Maybole where Allan was born on 29 November 1893. His mother passed away in February 1908 when he was 14. His father worked as a carter, ostler and coachman and he married his second wife in 1909 in Glasgow.
Allan’s older brother William immigrated to Canada in 1907. Allan joined him three years later, arriving in Quebec on 17 July 1910 on the SS Cassandra, listed as age 17, a shoemaker, going to his brother in Keewatin, Ontario. The next month his father and stepmother immigrated too and they settled in Keewatin. When the 1911 census was taken Allan was living with his parents on Front Street and working at a local flour mill.
The war started in August 1914 and Allan enlisted the following spring, signing up on 25 May 1915 with the 52nd Battalion. The unit was based in Port Arthur and recruited in towns throughout northwestern Ontario. On 17 June the Kenora and Keewatin lads were sent to Port Arthur to join the rest of the battalion. From there they left for the east coast on 4 November 1915 and on their way through Ottawa they were inspected by the Governor-General of Canada, the Duke of Connaught. The recruits embarked for England on 23 November, leaving from St. John, New Brunswick on the SS California. They spent two months training at Witley Camp in Surrey and Bramshott Camp in Hampshire. The battalion was sent to France in February 1915 where they became part of the 9th Brigade in the 3rd Canadian Division.
In the first week of March the men went into the trenches for orientation and training. Later that month the Canadian Corps took up positions in the south part of the Ypres Salient, between St. Eloi and Hooge, and the 52nd Battalion was moved into the area on 1 April. Although there were no major battles at the time they suffered casualties from rifle, machine gun and artillery fire and from German snipers. They did several rotations in the front trenches, including a long one from 23 May to 1 June when their positions were heavily shelled. From the War Diary of the 52nd Battalion, 31 May 1916, ‘Men becoming in critical condition owing to prolonged period under constant and heavy shell fire and relief very much needed. 8 day tour under these conditions very much too trying.’
The exhausted men were relieved on 1 June and went into reserve trenches then on to the town of Poperinghe the next day, but their rest would be very short. The Battle of Mount Sorrel started on the morning of 2 June when the Germans began an intense bombardment of the Canadian lines followed by the explosion of underground mines. Trenches and equipment were destroyed and some companies were almost wiped out. After the barrage German infantry advanced and captured Mount Sorrel and nearby areas. A counter-attack was planned for 3 June and additional units were brought in, including all four companies of the 52nd Battalion. The men left Ypres around midnight and even before they arrived at their positions in Sanctuary Wood, just after dawn on 3 June, they faced severe rifle and machine gun fire and a heavy artillery barrage. During their three days in the front trenches they endured cold, wet weather, a shortage of food and water, and constant shelling by the Germans. The battalion suffered 200 casualties. It was likely during that time that Allan was wounded and he died of his injuries on 5 June at No. 10 Casualty Clearing Station.
Allan is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, the second largest war cemetery in Belgium. He is commemorated on the War Memorial in Maybole, Scotland and on a stained-glass memorial in Maybole Old Parish Church. He is also remembered on the Keewatin Cenotaph and the Lake of the Woods Milling Company plaque. The plaque is dedicated to staff and citizens who served in the Great War. At a ceremony in Keewatin on 4 August 1919 Allan’s family was presented with a medal in honour of his war service. It was inscribed: He fought for freedom and honour. In commemoration of A. McKie who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War 1914-1918. Presented Aug. 4/19.
His brother William Anderson McKie enlisted in December 1914 and went to France in the fall of 1915. He survived three years of war, returning to Canada in July 1919. Their brother Alexander served with the British Army Service Corps, 2nd Water Tank Company. He was killed in action on 25 October 1917 and he’s buried in Aeroplane Cemetery near Ypres, Belgium. Allan and Alexander are both remembered on the McKie family marker in Maybole Old Parish Church cemetery.
Allan’s father William returned to Scotland with his wife in 1915 and he died in Maybole in 1921. Allan’s brother William passed away in Kenora in 1956. Elizabeth, probably the last surviving sibling, died in Glasgow, Scotland in 1958.
By Becky Johnson
Photo at the top: McKie family marker at cemetery in Maybole, Scotland