Sergeant Donald McBeath DCM

Donald McBeath was born in Dec 1830 and earned his living as a herdsman and ploughman. At the age of 21 he enlisted in the Scots Fusilier Guards and was promoted to corporal in 1854, the year the regiment sailed to the Crimea. He was present at the Alma and was promoted to sergeant the following day. As a sergeant, he was at the battle Inkerman where his uniform was peppered with no less than 14 bullet-holes, but he was not wounded.

In the trenches before Sevastopol he proved himself to be a marksman and was selected as NCO to take charge of the regiments' sharpshooters. One evening, on the 6th Sept 1855, Capt Buckley had gone forward to check on the sentries, Privates Allen and Sankey. They came under fire and Capt Buckley was thought to be wounded. Two volunteers offered to bring him back. These men were Sergeant James Craig and Drummer Smith. Sergeant McBeath was in charge of the section and decided to go with them. They were unable to find the Captain so McBeath separated from the others and found Private Sankey. He lifted him onto his back and carried him back to the lines. Again he was unscathed but had bullet-holes in his uniform. Sgt Craig brought back the body of the dead Capt Buckley and was wounded while doing so. McBeath was awarded the DCM (Distinguished Conduct Medal), but Craig won the VC.

On his return to England, McBeath discharged himself from the regiment on 12th November 1856. He was given the job of Head Deer Stalker by the Duke of Atholl and enlisted in the Atholl Highlanders. The photo shows him in the uniform of this private unit. He was appointed Sergeant Major with charge of Arms, a rank he held until his death in 1911, at the age of 81.

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by Stephen Luscombe