Major Andrew Marshall Downie

Biography of Major Andrew Marshall Downie

Andrew Marshall Downie was born in Shettleston, Glasgow, on the 18th August 1875, the son of James Downie of Glasgow. He started his education at Allan Glen's School.

An apprentice engineer by day, Andrew Marshall Downie took evening classes at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College (GWSTC - now the University of Strathclyde) from the age of 17, attending from session 1892-1893 to session 1896-1897. He attained the Senior Certificate in Mechanical Engineering in 1894, followed by the Diploma in Mechanical Engineering in 1896, thus becoming an Associate of the GWSTC. Downie was elected a Whitworth Exhibitioner in 1897 (the prestigious Whitworth Exhibitions were awarded through an annual competitive examination. The competition was open to young men engaged in branches of mechanical engineering throughout the UK, India and the British colonies. Each Exhibition was worth £50 and tenable for one year to support a scheme of work or study proposed by the successful candidate).

Downie enrolled at the University of Glasgow in the session 1896-1897 to study Engineering, during which time he was awarded first prize in the Engineering Laboratory class. He graduated BSc in Engineering on 18 April 1899 and went on to become a civil engineer. Andrew was elected an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 23rd April 1901.

Downie was Managing Director of Duncan Stewart and Company, engineers, of Glasgow, and a Director of R M Downie and Company, shippers, of Manchester. He married Jean Margaret Begg at Hillhead Parish Church, Glasgow, on the 19th October 1914.

He embarked for service in the Mediterranean in early May 1915, serving as Officer in Command of "A" Company of the 5th Highland Light Infantry.

Downie served in the 5th HLI with a number of other University of Glasgow men, including fellow officers Second Lieutenant Ralph Edward May, Second Lieutenant Allan Macfarlane Turner, Lieutenant George A Sillars, Captain James Gordon Milne, and battalion Commanding Officer Colonel Frederick Lansdowne Morrison.

The officers of the 5th HLI published an account of the battalion's service in the Mediterranean. They relate Downie's mortal injury at Achi Baba nullah as follows:

On receiving this order [to move forward in support of the 6th HLI] Major Downie led Nos. 3 and 4 platoons over the parapet, the right half-company under Captain Morton following them at a short interval. Their route led along the lower end of [trench] F12A, which had been almost pounded out of existence by our high explosives. There were several casualties while traversing this zone, including Major Downie himself who received a severe bullet wound in the head.

Captain James Gordon Milne, who was wounded at the same time as Downie, wrote to his comrades in the 5th from hospital in Alexandria to report the Major's death. 'From the first we had known that Major Downie's case was a critical one,' states the battalion history, 'but our latest word of him before the hospital ship left Helles had been that "he was getting on better than could be expected," and all had been hoping for further news of good progress.'

Major Andrew Marshall Downie died on the 20th July 1915 of wounds received in action at the Dardanelles. He had attained the rank of Major in the 5th Highland Light Infantry. Major Downie is buried in the Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery in Egypt. He is commemorated in the Scottish National War Memorial, Kelvinside Hillhead Parish Church, University of Glasgow Engineering Department, and Glasgow Necropolis. A memorial flagstaff was erected in memory of Downie at the Glasgow University Athletic Club by Samuel Galbraith, Esq. The memorial plaque from this is currently held by the University Archives awaiting re-dedication.

Summary

Major Andrew Marshall Downie
Rank: Major
Regiment: 5th Bn. Highland Light Infantry
Degree: BSc
Awards: N/A
Comments: Died of wounds, 20 July 1915
Note/Press Clipping: N/A
Photo ID: N/A

Sources

University of Glasgow Faculty and Registry records.

Battalion History: 1921, The Fifth Battalion Highland Light Infantry in the War, 1914-1918, Glasgow: MacLehose, Jackson and Co.

An obituary from the Institution of Civil Engineers Minutes of the Proceedings Journal, Vol 201, January 1916.

Memorial Place: Commonwealth War Graves Commission - Debt of Honour Register

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