Date of birth: 4 March 1893
Date of death: 21 November 1917
Killed in action aged 24
Buried Orival Wood Cemetery, Flesquieres 1 A 26
Ewart Alan was born in Brighton, the only son of Alexander Mackintosh, Senior Official Receiver, and his wife Lilian. His father came from Alness in Ross & Cromarty. His maternal grandfather was a preacher, James Guinness Rogers; Ewart said that it was because of his grandfather’s friendship with the British Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone, that he was given his first name.
He studied locally at Brighton College, whilst also studying Gaelic and learning to play the pipes during the holidays, went on to St Paul’s School in London and then came up to study classics at Christ Church. Ewart, who was a member of the University of Oxford Officers’ Training Corps, tried to join the army immediately war broke out in August, while still on his university course. He was rejected on the grounds of his poor eyesight. He re-applied, was accepted by the Seaforth Highlanders, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant on 31 December 1914.
He served with the 5th (The Sutherland and Caithness Highland) Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders (a Territorial Force unit), which was part of 51st (Highland) Division. On 16 May he led a raid during the Battle of Arras where several of his men were killed. One of them, David Sutherland, inspired a poem "In Memoriam". Mackintosh was now a temporary lieutenant and he received the Military Cross on 24 June 1916.
His citation in the London Gazette:
2nd Lt. (temp. Lt.) Ewart Alan Mackintosh, l/5th Bn., Sea. Highrs., T.F.
For conspicuous gallantry. He organised and led a successful raid on the enemy's trenches with great skill and courage. Several of the enemy were disposed of and a strong point destroyed. He also brought back two wounded men under heavy fire. Mackintosh had been trying to bring Sutherland, who had lost a number of limbs, back to the trenches. Sutherland died of his wounds and had to be left; he has no known burial place. At the age of 23, Mackintosh regarded himself as a father to his men, who loved him, affectionately calling him "Tosh". Sutherland was a Scot, but many of Mackintosh's other charges were from New Zealand. One of Mackintosh's final poems, Cha Till Maccrimmein, appears to foretell his own death. He returned to England in August 1915 after being wounded in High Wood on the Somme. He was stationed near Cambridge for eight months during which time he was training cadets and he became engaged to Sylvia Marsh who was from a Quaker family.
In October 1917 he returned to France and was killed in action on the second day of the Battle of Cambrai, 21 November 1917, whilst with the 4th Seaforth Highlanders. He was there observing the heavy action near the village of Cantaing. Cambrai was noteworthy in using new tactics including the first mass use of tanks. He was buried in the Orival Wood Cemetery in northern France.
His poetry has been said to have been as good as the more famous war poet Rupert Brooke. Lines from his poem "A Creed" are used on "The Call"; the Scottish American war memorial in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens installed in 1927. The memorial was paid for by Scottish Americans to commemorate the bravery of the Scottish soldiers of the Great War.
A small ceremony took place in France on the 90th anniversary of Mackintosh's death and there were plans to dedicate a chapel to him and his regiment.
by Ewart Alan Mackintosh (killed in action 21st November 1917 aged 24)
So you were David’s father,
And he was your only son,
And the new-cut peats are rotting
And the work is left undone,
Because of an old man weeping,
Just an old man in pain,
For David, his son David,
That will not come again.
Oh, the letters he wrote you,
And I can see them still,
Not a word of the fighting,
But just the sheep on the hill
And how you should get the crops in
Ere the year get stormier,
And the Bosches have got his body,
And I was his officer.
You were only David’s father,
But I had fifty sons
When we went up in the evening
Under the arch of the guns,
And we came back at twilight - O God!
I heard them call
To me for help and pity
That could not help at all.
Oh, never will I forget you,
My men that trusted me,
More my sons than your fathers’,
For they could only see
The little helpless babies
And the young men in their pride.
They could not see you dying,
And hold you while you died.
Happy and young and gallant,
They saw their first-born go,
But not the strong limbs broken
And the beautiful men brought low,
The piteous writhing bodies,
They screamed “Don’t leave me, sir”,
For they were only your fathers
But I was your officer.
Inspiration for the Poem
On the evening of 16 May, 1916 Lieutenant Ewart Alan Mackintosh and Second Lieutenant Mackay of the 5th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders led a raid on the German trenches in the sector of the front line north-west of Arras. By the end of the night there were sixteen British casualties, which included fourteen wounded and two killed. One of the two dead soldiers was Private David Sutherland.
Private David Sutherland has no known grave. His name is commemorated in Bay 8 of the Arras Memorial to the Missing at Faubourg d'Amiens military cemetery in Arras.
War, The Liberator, and Other Pieces, by E.A. Mackintosh, M.C., lt. Seaforth Highlanders (51st division) ; with a memoir. -- London, John Lane ; New York, John Lane company, 1918.
Ewart Alan Mackintosh of 16 Sussex-square Brighton, Lieutenant Seaforth Highlanders died 21st November 1917 in France. Probate 9th March 1918 to Lilian Violet Mackintosh, spinster £1456.2.6
Registered Charity Number: 1143423