Major John Keiller MacKay

The Distinguished Service Order Medal
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His Citation Reads:

For conspicuous gallantry in action. When the personnel of his O.[bservation] P.[ost] had become casualties, he went forward under very heavy fire and re-established the O.P. 200 yards beyond our front line, and resumed communication with his battery. He remained forward all day, commanding his battery from this exposed position, and sending back most valuable information.

Major MacKay as a howitzer battery commander would have been well to the rear of the infantry trench system co-located with his guns. The farthest forward a battery commander was ever expected to go was the battalion headquarters of the unit he was supporting in the attack. Forward Observation Officers (FOOs) of the artillery were normally junior officers who sited their OPs well forward with the infantry so that they could call down observed fire by telephoning back to the the rear. The artillery guns thus never saw the enemy, depending on the FOOs to act as their eyes and ears well forward. In effect, Major MacKay went forward, well in front of the infantry trenches themselves to support the Canadian offensive that was underway, a gallant task which would not normally be performed by a field officer of his stature.
See Lt. Col. J. Keiller MacKay

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