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Thu 14 December 2017
FEATURE ARTICLES
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PEOPLE: COL. SIR ROBERT MACRAE MBE
Col. Sir Robert MacRae MBERobert Andrew Alexander Scarth MacRae, known to his friends as ‘RAAS’ was born in England when his mother was en-route to India where his father, also Robert, was Inspector General of Police for Bihar and Orissa.

Sir Robert had a distinguished military career. After being educated at Lancing College and Sandhurst, he was commissioned in the Seaforth Highlanders as a second Lieutenant in 1935. He was captured at St. Valery in 1940 and spent five years in various prison camps in Germany. After the war he served with the Black Watch in Korea and Kenya. Retiring from the army, he returned to Orkney where his Grandmother’s Scarth family had lived since the 16th Century.

He was appointed Lord Lieutenant for the Islands in 1972 and served in Local Government as a Chairman of the Hospital and Health Boards. For his help in raising money to restore St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, he was knighted by the Queen and was awarded the Norwegian honour of Commander with the Star of the Order of St. Olaf from King Olaf.

Sir Roberts grandfather John MacRae was born in 1841 in Kingussie, moving to Kirkwall where he was appointed Procurator Fiscal and married into the Scarth family. His father, Duncan, also born in Kingussie, was a shoemaker. The family were well educated; a cousin Dr. John was Medical Officer for Edinburgh, another cousin the Rev. Alexander was an army chaplain and minister of the Scottish Crown Court Church in London. Duncans father Donald was born in Kingussie in 1754 and married a local girl Helen McPherson, but perhaps Donald’s father Duncan MacRae fives a clue to the family origin. His wife was Margaret Warran. Her name seems more South country. Was her father a soldier? Was Duncan in the Independent Companies who were held in the Barracks South of Kingussie for the months before and during the Battle of Culloden to stop them joining the Jacobite cause. At this point, fact drifts into the unknown and we may never know the real story!

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