Murdo MacRae

Murdo MacRae

Soon after the start of World War One, the flow of casualties from the conflict quickly overwhelmed existing medical facilities in the United Kingdom.  The intake of casualties extended to the Highlands where seven military hospitals were established to help meet the need.  [These were: Lochiel Auxiliary Hospital, Banavie (Officers); Abbey Auxiliary Hospital, Fort-Augustus; Hedgefield Auxiliary Hospital, Inverness; Nicolson Auxiliary Hospital, Strathpeffer; Seaforth Auxiliary Hospital, Strathpeffer; Fairburn Auxiliary Hospital, Muir of Ord; Novar House Auxiliary Hospital, Novar.] The wounds inflicted on millions of soldiers drove the development of new medical techniques and innovations.

Murdo MacRae, of Habost, Isle of Lewis was one of the nine children of Murdoch and Annie.  Having signed up at the start of the conflict at the age of nineteen, Murdo survived being shot in the liver at the first Battle of Ypres in 1915.

He was one of the many servicemen to be the fortunate recipient of the experimental surgery advanced during the conflict.  A piece of his shot-through liver was removed to save him.  Murdo also participated in early occupational therapy. 

Having been trained as a tailor before the war, Murdo was encouraged to craft this embroidered Union Flag whilst convalescing and engaged in therapeutic activity at Woodend Hospital, Aberdeen.  Following the Great War, Murdo went on to join the Forestry Commission Labour Corps and, in 1938, marrying Flora in Argyll.

He enjoyed a happy later life, becoming Head Forester in Dores, near Loch Ness and retiring to Sunnyside Croft in Culloden, where he kept bees and goats. 

[Text © High Life Highland; images © Inverness Museum & Art Gallery]

Patients at Woodend Hospital, Aberdeen. Murdo is in the middle row, 3rd from the right. [INVMG.TW.2014.002L.003]
An Embroidered Union Flag
This Union Flag was embroidered by Murdo during his period of convalescence. It is now in the care of Inverness Museum & Art Gallery [INVMG.TW.2014.002L.004]
Murdo MacRae's wedding photograph
Newly-weds, Murdo & Flora MacRae, 1938 [INVMG.TW.2014.002L.005]