Queens Own Highlanders
(Seaforth & Camerons)
Lance Corporal Robert McBeath VC
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Lance Corporal Robert McBeath 1/5th Seaforth wins the Victoria Cross for gallantry at Cambrai, France, 20th November 1917.
During the advance of the 1/5th Seaforth at Cambrai, No 240171 L/Cpl Robert McBeath, from Kinlochbervie, Sutherland was awarded the Victoria Cross.
His citation reads:
“For most conspicuous bravery west of Cambrai, France, on 20th November 1917, when with his company in attack and approaching the final objective, a nest of enemy machine guns in the western outskirts of a village opened fire both on his own unit and on the unit on his right. The advance was checked and heavy casualties resulted. When a Lewis gun was called for to deal with these machine guns, Lance Corporal McBeath volunteered for the duty and immediately moved off alone with a Lewis gun and revolver. He found however, several other hostile machine guns in action and, with the assistance of a tank, attacked them and drove the gunners to ground in a deep dug-out. Lance Corporal McBeath, regardless of danger, rushed in after them, shot an enemy who opposed him on the steps, and drove the remainder of the garrison out of the dug-out, capturing 3 officers and 30 men. There were in all five machine guns mounted round the dug-out and by putting them out of action, he cleared the way for the advance of both units. The conduct of Lance Corporal McBeath throughout three days of severe fighting was beyond all praise”.
(London Gazette 11th January 1918)
In a tragic irony it is amazing that after surviving the horrors of trench warfare he was shot dead in Canada in 1922.
On his return home to Kinlochbervie (who have named a new housing development (McBeath Court) in his honour) and asked why he carried out such a heroic deed he replied modestly; “Only a fool like myself would have done it.” He was promoted Sergeant before he left the Seaforth Highlanders and later emigrated to Canada.
He joined the Vancouver Police and was gunned down by a Florida emigrant in October 1922. The Vancouver Police are now in the process of raising a memorial to this most brave officer and soldier.