The decorated VC soldier who called Arran his second home

Islay born David Lowe Macintyre, who won the Victoria Cross, had close connections with Arran.

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In August, exactly 100 years on from an act of valour which earned Lieutenant David Lowe Macintyre the Victoria Cross, a commemorative plaque was unveiled in his home village of Portnahaven, Islay.

However, as the anniversary of the end of the First World War approaches, it is worth remembering Lietentant Macintryre on Arran too, as he had many connections with the island.

They started even before he was born when his father, Archibald Macintyre, came to teach in Shiskine School in 1879 and brought his sister Jessie as his housekeeper. She married a local, Coll Currie of Shedog.


Archibald left Arran in 1881 and studied the ministry before becoming the Free Church Minister in Portnahaven, Islay, where his son David was born in 1895. His mother died in 1908, when he was 13, and after that he came to holiday with his aunt Jessie and cousins at Balmichael Farm on Arran.

They included his cousin Jessie Ann Currie, grandmother of Charles Currie, and as a consequence they were very close and corresponded regularly before and throughout the First World War.

It was in that conflict that Lieutenant Macintyre, serving with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders,won the Victoria Cross.

Attached to the Sixth Battalion Highland Light Infantry, he was leading his men at Henin and Fontaine-les-Croilsilles between August 24 and 27, 1918, when he rallied a small party and pushed forward through the enemy barrage in pursuit of an enemy machine gun detachment. They ran them to earth in a pillbox, killing three and capturing an officer, 10 other ranks and five machine guns. His party then attacked three more pillboxes and disposed of the machine gun teams inside.


Under normal circumstances, more information would have been recorded of Lieutenant Macintyre’s courageous attacks and outstanding leadership. However, the Battalion’s War Diary had been written by the man himself, and, in typically Scottish fashion, he was not one to blow his own trumpet!

After the war, David returned to civilian life and in 1920 entered the Civil Service as Second Class Clerk at the (then) Office of Works at Stoney’s Gate, Westminster. He was promoted to Assistant Principal Grade of the Secretariat Branch in 1926. In 1936 he became Principal of the Office of Works in Scotland and, at his retiral in 1959, he was Under Secretary Ministry of Works (Scotland).

During that time, David married Elspeth Moir Forsyth, and they had two children, Jean and Alasdair. After World War Two he renewed his acquaintance with Arran and his own family had many happy holidays there including often renting a house in the summer at Blackwaterfoot. He also stayed at Montana when run by Kate Bannatyne.

During such holidays, David and the family, including his children and then grandchildren kept in touch with Arran cousins and descendants and the family continue to visit Arran.

David retired in 1959 and thereafter kept his Arran link as chairman of Arran Piers, the company that then ran and maintained the various piers for ferries and shipping on Arran during the 1960s.

He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in the 1949 New Year’s Honours List and died in Edinburgh in 1967, aged 72. His Victoria Cross is on permanent display at the National War Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh Castle.

Lieutenant Macintyre’s family, including granddaughter Gillian Gallacher, still keep in touch with their cousins on Arran.

The unveiling of the memorial stone in Portnahaven.
The unveiling of the memorial stone in Portnahaven.

Lieutenant Macintyre has close connections with Arran. NO_B42macintryre 01

The unveiling ceremony of the memorial to Lieutenant Macintyre on Islay in August.