Saltire row flares over ‘Fighting Mac’ monument

Former serviceman Angus MacKenzie has called for the Saltire to be taken down and replaced with the Union Jack. Picture: Cascade
Former serviceman Angus MacKenzie has called for the Saltire to be taken down and replaced with the Union Jack. Picture: Cascade
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A ROW has broken out over calls to remove the Scottish ­national flag from a monument to a Highland soldier and replace it with the Union flag.

The Saltire has flown for years on a tower built to commemorate Major-General Sir Hector Macdonald, or “Fighting Mac”, on a hill overlooking Dingwall in Ross-shire.

A former serviceman has appealed for the St Andrew’s cross to be taken down and replaced with the Union flag, which he insists is the proper banner to represent the officer.

His proposal has been backed by the Clan Donald Society, which holds an annual remembrance service for the 19th-century war hero. But local councillors say it is council policy to fly the Saltire.

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Angus MacKenzie, who served in the RAF, said: “I feel strongly that Sir Hector was a British soldier in the British Army. If there is a flag flying on the monument, it should be the Union Jack, not the Saltire.

“Major-General Sir Hector MacDonald was a great servant to his country, of that there is no doubt. But he fought for queen and country, and that country was Britain, not just Scotland; therefore it is inappropriate to fly the Saltire.”

Mr MacKenzie said he was not making a political point in the wake of the referendum, but was raising an issue of military and historical correctness.

He has taken up the matter with Highland Council, which looks after the 100ft landmark.

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Alan Macdonald, of the Clan Donald Society, suggested the Scottish flag might be seen as “offensive” to other British service personnel.

“Sir Hector was serving in the British armed forces and it’s a Union Jack they fly,” he said.

“These are proud men and women who put their lives on the line for the whole of the UK and some of them might find it offensive that it’s the Saltire that is flying.”

Councillor Margaret Paterson said: “It is Highland Council policy to fly the Saltire because that is the flag of our country. There are occasions, such as a royal visit, when we fly the Union Jack.

“Sir Hector was from Mulbuie on the Black Isle. He was a Scottish soldier who joined a Scottish regiment and I think it’s ­appropriate for the Scottish Saltire to grace his monument.”

Sir Hector enlisted in the Gordon Highlanders as a private aged 17 and swiftly rose to become a major-general, which was almost unheard of.

He fought in Afghanistan and Sudan as well as the Boer Wars.

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But at the height of his military career, he was accused of impropriety with young boys in Ceylon, where he was based.

The allegations were never proven because Sir Hector shot himself in a Paris hotel room before an impending court martial.

After his death, many discredited the claims.

They contended that figures within the establishment had resented the success of the Gaelic-speaking son of a crofter and began a whispering campaign against him.