John Wood MacKay

Joint memorial with W. Campbell, C. Francis & J. Traynor (q.v.):

110338 Flt Cadet J. W. Mackay Royal Air Force, 13.6.1918, age 18, N 575

On this memorial are recorded the names of those members of His Majesty’s Forces who gave their lives for their country in the Great War 1914-1918 and are buried in this cemetery but whose graves are not marked by separate headstones.

The reference N 575 is the location of Mackay’s actual grave in the southern half of the main cemetery.

CWGC:  Flight Cadet John Wood Mackay, service no. 110338, R.A.F. 39th Squadron; killed while flying (crashed) 13 June 1918; a. 18;  Sp. Mem. (N. 575);  son of Donald and Frances Mackay of 38 Spottiswoode Street, Edinburgh; 

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John Wood Mackay was born in Edinburgh on 25 November 1899, the second son of Donald Mackay, a postman, and his wife Frances Wood.  He joined the Royal Flying Corps in November 1917.  The RFC and the Royal Naval Air Squadron were combined to form the RAF on 1 April 1918.  The 39th Squadron was formed in April 1916 as a Home Defence Squadron and was tasked with the air defence of northeast London.  They were initially equipped with B.E.2 planes but in 1918 were flying Bristol F2B fighters.  

On 13 June 1918, while based at North Weald aerodrome in Essex, John Wood Mackay and Lieutenant John Lionel Boles, were killed when their Bristol F2B No. C4815 stalled after the engine failed at a height of only 150 feet and they were turning in an attempt to return to the aerodrome. They lost flying speed and the aeroplane crashed and caught fire. Boles, a Canadian, was buried locally but Mackay’s body was brought back to Edinburgh for a military funeral in the Grange Cemetery.  

John Wood Mackay’s elder brother, Donald, a dental technician, enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps in January 1916 and served as an aero rigger.  He was listed as a Corporal Mechanic when the RFC and the RNAS were merged to form the RAF on 1 April 1918 and was a sergeant by the time he was transferred to the Air Force Reserve in 1919.