Title: British Army Sergeant, World War I
Death Date: October 1, 1918
Plot Location: Naval Plot Row 7, Site 39
The big dark gray gravestone at the far right of this photograph stands in sharp contrast to the neat and uniformly spaced rows of plain marble markers that characterize a military burial plot. The soldier buried here wasn’t an American, but a member of the 9th (or “Highlanders”) Battalion of the Royal Scots, the oldest infantry regiment in the British Army, tracing its history back to 1633.
There were 35 Battalions in this unit during the Great War. The 9th was mobilized in Edinburgh in August, 1914, moved to France in February, 1915, and served on the Western Front for the remainder of the war. Two reserve battalions were stationed in Scotland and Ireland.
The obvious question is how a soldier from Scotland came to be buried here. Fortunately this newspaper story provides some resolution, stating he was injured in the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium. Since Malcolm was disabled he was put to good use here by the British Recruiting Mission. He was on assignment in the local office when he was one of the earliest to be stricken with the so-called Spanish flu which would reach a pandemic stage in Philadelphia in October.
At the base of his stone shown above is a “poppy cross.” These are placed at the graves of British soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen buried all over the world in commemoration of “Remembrance Day,” which is the Sunday before November 11, Armistice Day.
The inscription on the front of his stone reads, “Sergeant Malcom MacFarlane, 9th Royal Scots, Died In Philadelphia While Serving His Country, October 1, 1918, Aged 29 Years.” Across the top of the stone it says, “There Is One Corner Of A Foreign Land That Is Forever Britain.” For Sgt. MacFarlane, it was the southwest corner of Philadelphia where he was laid to rest. (One other British veteran of the Great War is buried here, Lt. Col. Frederick Stanford Elkington.)
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