Hector Lachlan Stewart MacLean VC

b. 13/09/1870 Bunna, India. d. 17/08/1897 Nawa Bali, Upper Swat, India.

Hector Lachlan Stewart MacLean (1870-1897) was born in Sheikh Budin Sanatorium, Bannu, in the North West Frontier of India on 13th September 1870. He was the eldest son of Major-General Charles Smith MacLean, Indian Staff Corps, and Margaret MacQueen Bairnsfather, of Dumbarrow, Forfarshire, Scotland.

Hector L S MacLean VC

Hector was sent to Scotland for his education, being taught at St Salvador’s School in St Andrews, and at Fettes College, Edinburgh, before he joined the Northumberland Fusiliers as a Second Lieutenant in April 1889. He returned to India and became a Probationer for the Indian Staff Corps in 1891, and joined the Queen’s Own Corps of Guides at Mardan on 30th March 1891.

He then took part in the Black Mountains Hazarah Expedition later that year (Medal and clasp); the Chitral Expedition of 1895 (Punjab Frontier Medal); the relief of Chitral in 1897 (clasp).

He was then appointed Adjutant to the Guides of Cavalry in 1896, before serving in the Malakand Campaign in 1897, where he would be involved in the action which led eventually to the award of three Victoria Crosses.

During the fighting at Nawa Bali, in Upper Swat, on the 17th August, 1897, Lieutenant-Colonel R. B. Adams proceeded with Lieutenants H. L. S. MacLean and Viscount Fincastle, and five men of the Guides, under a very heavy and close fire, to the rescue of Lieutenant R. T. Greaves, Lancashire Fusiliers, who was lying disabled by a bullet wound and surrounded by the enemy’s swordsmen. In bringing him under cover he (Lieutenant Greaves) was struck by a bullet and killed — Lieutenant MacLean was mortally wounded — whilst the horses of Lieutenant-Colonel Adams and Lieutenant Viscount Fincastle were shot, as well as two troop horses.

In the London Gazette on 9th November 1897, both Fincastle and Adams were gazetted to receive the Victoria Cross, whilst due to a policy decision at the time, MacLean was stated to have been worthy of the VC if he had lived. This policy was eventually changed, and a further entry in the London Gazette in January 1907, awarded a posthumous VC to MacLean.

MacLean was buried in the Guides Cemetery, Mardan in now Pakistan. His medals are held by the Ashcroft Trust and displayed in the Imperial War Museum.