Military Service Record (1891-1903 and 1916-1919)

John MacKeddie Michie, uncle of Ellen Ann Fraser MacNiven Michie - Generation 3.

John had an exemplary military career between 1891 and 1896, during which time he achieved rapid promotions from the rank of Private to the rank of Sergeant while serving in Britain. Shortly after his promotion to Sergeant, he was posted to India and served on the North-West Frontier in the arid, rugged mountains along the border between India and Afghanistan.

Not only was this his first experience of battle, but the hot, dusty, fly infested environment in which he found himself, was far removed from what he had been accustomed to in Britain. As he faced hostile Pashtun tribesmen whose lands had been bisected by the border established between Afghanistan and India in 1896, he must have believed he was in hell. With no escape from marauding tribesmen, bloodshed and continuous marching to relieve poorly defended British garrisons, it was hardly surprising that he was driven to drink and convicted before the end of this campaign. For his efforts, he was awarded the India Medal (1895) with Punjab Frontier Clasp (1897-1898). Within 12 months of his return to Britain, John completed his 12 year limited period of engagement, and was transferred to the Army Reserve.

Having barely had time to settle into ‘civvy street’, John was recalled to active service and posted to South Africa. Once there, he became embroiled in a guerrilla war against a disciplined and capable enemy, the Boers, who were excellent marksmen and horsemen. Often without food and water, and in a weakened condition, John was fortunate not to have contracted typhoid which killed thousands. The hard-won medals he was awarded, were the Queen’s South Africa Medal (1899-1902) with Cape Colony, Paardeberg and Wittebergen Clasps, and the King’s South Africa Medal (1901-1902) with South Africa (1901) and South Africa (1902) Clasps.

After all he had been through, it was surprising that John volunteered for service with the Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.) during World War I (1914-1918). At that time, he'd had 12 years of settled civilian life and was beyond the accepted age for compulsory conscription. Mostly likely, patriotism or the prospect of a regular wage motivated him. Although his service with the Australian military was exceptional with rapid promotions from the rank of Private to the rank of Staff Sergeant, he died unexpectedly from heart failure with only £100 (£2,421 today) to his name, around 12 months after his demobilisation. 

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