War Graves Commission Report:
Sergeant Allan MacDonald 3987 2nd Australian Tunnelling Company. Killed in action 11th June 1917. Age 35. Son of Daniel and Isabella MacDonald, of Hazelwood, Sandbank, Holyloch, Argylle, Scotland. Grave III A 37 in Messines Ridge British Cemetery.
Alan emigrated to Melbourne, Australia in November 1905, a few months after father returned from Denver, Colorado, U.S.A. He was employed with a building contractors firm (Managing Director, Mr. Quayle), mainly engaged on public works, residential schools, etc.
From the Dardanelles (1915) he went to France with an army tunnelling company of Australian engineers. He ranked as a company sergeant major when he was killed at the Battle of Messines Ridge in 1917.
While fitting out in England before going to France he was able to visit his mother at Sandbank, on the Holy Loch. There he also met Meg. That was their last meeting.
Mother was alone, when out of the blue arrived an officer of Alan's unit. He brought with him a few of Alan's personal belongings including a pocket book.
About then I was allowed home from the St. Bertha's Hospital, Rochester on condition that I would attend Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow twice per week. One evening Mother got me to look through the pocket book. She had not been able to bring herself to do so. I found there what was either the draft or a copy of a letter he had written in France to a Maud...? The letter was dated but not signed. After instructing the lady about the buying and selling of some stocks and shares he went on to tell of his visit to mother and how he had found Mother in very stringent circumstances financially. He went on to say he wished her to make provision for Mother to receive an annuity of £150.
Without disclosing that I was in possession of the paper I cabled the lady informing the lady of Alan's death (no doubt she already knew this) and stressing Mother's poverty. To my surprise Mother received a bank draft on London for £300. A cablegram from Maud was also received saying she would write, but such a letter, if there was one, never arrived.
In the meantime I had the paper photographed and it and some copies certified by a Justice of the Peace. I sent a copy to Mr. Quayle. (It transpired that Alan had nominated him as his executor). In case the first went missing in transit, I sent a second copy by a late mail, and later still the paper itself. In due course Mr. Quayle wrote to us to say that it had been accepted as a codicil by the Probate Court. Having been trained in law this was what I had hoped for.
Maud never disclosed having received Alan's letter but Quayle found proof of share transactions just as instructed in the paper found in the pocket book. Years later, during the depression in Australia she claimed that the £300 was an advance payment of the annuity. However when I pointed out to the bank in Melbourne (Mr. Quayle had handed over the executorship to them) that the letter (codicil) was not known to exist at the time of the remittance nothing more was heard of the claim. No doubt they saw that perjury had been committed. The whole estate, £36,000 went to Maud, out of which she had to find £150 for the years 1917-1946. She died long before Mother, but not before trying to have the sum reduced.
I seems to me that Alan's death probably saved him from something worse.