b. 27/11/1870 Clapham, London. d. 04/07/1913 Hyde Park, London.
Matthew Fontaine Maury Meiklejohn (1870-1913) was born on 27th November 1870 in Clapham, London, the son of Professor Meiklejohn of St Andrew’s University, Fife, Scotland. He was educated at Fettes College, Edinburgh, and joined the Gordon Highlanders in India on 17th June 1891, and four years later saw his first active service with the regiment when Sir Robert Low’s Field Force advanced to the relief of Chitral, by way of the Swat Valley.
Two years later, the Gordons were again heavily involved on the Indian Frontier, and young Meiklejohn was slightly wounded when his regiment cleared the Dargai Heights. Meiklejohn also saw action during the Tirah Campaign, especially in the Bara Valley. He received an Indian Medal with three clasps.
On the outbreak of the Second Boer War in South Africa, the Gordons were sent with the Infantry Brigade from India, and Meiklejohn was with them. He was wounded early in the campaign at the Battle of Elandslaagte, where he would be later recommended for, and awarded the Victoria Cross.
He was gazetted on 20th July 1900 for the following action: On the 21st October, 1899, after the main Boer position had been captured, some men of the Gordon Highlanders, when about to assault a kopje in advance, were exposed to a heavy cross-fire and, having lost their leaders, commenced to waver. Seeing this, Captain Meiklejohn rushed to the front and called on the Gordons to follow him. By his conspicuous bravery and fearless example, he rallied the men and led them against the enemy’s position, where he fell, desperately wounded in four places.
Meiklejohn survived his severe wounds, though had to have his right arm amputated. He was presented with his VC by Queen Victoria in one of her last investitures on 15th December 1900 at Windsor Castle. He was also awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal. In 1901, he was appointed Garrison Adjutant at St Helena, whence he returned to enter the Staff College. In 1904, he married Vera Marshall, daughter of the late Lieutenant-Colonel Lionel Marshall. They went on to have a son and two daughters.
Captain Meiklejohn was then on the General Staff at Army Headquarters, during which service he was promoted to his majority. He was then given a promotion of Major. Tragically, Major Meiklejohn would be killed in a tragic accident on 4th July 1913 in Middlesex Hospital, following an incident in Hyde Park. Whilst in the park riding his horse, the animal suddenly bolted. Inhibited by the loss of his right arm, Meiklejohn struggled to control the horse which was careering towards a group of children. He managed to steer the horse into the rails bordering Rotten Row, opposite Knightsbridge Barracks, throwing him off but saving the lives of the children.
Meiklejohn was buried in Brookwood Cemetery, Brookwood, near Woking, Surrey. His grave was recently renovated by the Victoria Cross Trust in 2015. His medals are held and displayed at the Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen, Scotland.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: GORDON HIGHLANDERS MUSEUM, ABERDEEN.
BURIAL PLACE: BROOKWOOD CEMETERY, BROOKWOOD, SURREY.
PLOT 3, GRAVE 172317
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map.
Thomas Stewart – Meiklejohn VC Medal Group at Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen.