James Patrick MacMaster

In loving memory of Thomas MacMaster, native of Galloway, died 27th January 1939; wife Jenny Smart died 2nd July 1904; son James Patrick Maxwell died at Military Hospital Hitchin 8th November 1918

CWGC: Sapper James Patrick Maxwell MacMaster, service no. 259559, Royal Engineers, Signal Service Training Centre; d. Military Hospital Hitchin, 8 Nov. 1918, a. 22, pneumonia; b. Edinburgh, only son of Thomas and Jenny Smart MacMaster, 190 Grange Loan, Edinburgh. Y 167

James Patrick Maxwell MacMaster was born in Sciennes Gardens, Edinburgh, on 4 November 1896, the eldest of three children of Thomas MacMaster, and his wife Jenny Smart, who had married the previous year. Thomas MacMaster (1869-1939) was a solicitor who worked for the Caledonian Insurance Company from 1895 and was the Company Secretary from 1917 until he retired in 1935.  James attended George Watson’s College 1903-1911 and then the Edinburgh Institution 1911-14.  The Edinburgh Institution was then in George Street but moved to Melville Street in 1920 (taking over the premises previously occupied by St George’s School for Girls, which had moved to Ravelston) and was re-named Melville College in 1936.

After leaving school James worked for the National Bank of Scotland before enlisting in December 1915 under the Derby scheme.  This scheme, introduced by Lord Derby two months earlier, allowed men to volunteer for service before conscription was introduced on 27 Jan. 1916.  Derby volunteers could either enlist immediately or could wait until required.  When James was called up in 1916, he joined the Royal Engineers as a sapper.  In February 1918 he was transferred to an Officer Cadet Battalion, but before completing his training he caught influenza.  He died nine days later of influenza and broncho-pneumonia at the Union Military Hospital in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, on 8 Nov. 1918, only three days before the end of the war.  At the time of his death he was on the strength of the Signal Service Training Centre of the Royal Engineers and was based at the Royal Engineers Signal Depot in Bedford.

Edinburgh Institution & Melville College Roll of Honour 1914-1918 & 1939-1945 (Melville College Trust, 2001) available on-line at: https://archives.esms.org.uk/