Calgary

Calgary Highlanders portrait honours First World War veteran David McAndie

The Calgary Highlanders have unveiled a portrait of David McAndie, one of the most decorated members of the regiment whose bravery continues to inspire soldiers to this day.

Soldier who volunteered 100 years ago 'exemplifies the fighting spirit of all ranks of the regiment'

Calgary artist Jamie Morris puts the finishing touches on a portrait of Capt. David McAndie. (Mike Symington/CBC)

The Calgary Highlanders have unveiled a portrait of David McAndie, one of the most decorated members of the regiment whose bravery continues to inspire soldiers to this day.

McAndie joined the 10th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, as a private a century ago.

In the ensuing three years, he fought at the Battle of the Somme, Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, and Passchendaele, earning numerous decorations for bravery in the field. By 1918, McAndie had been promoted to captain. 

"He exemplifies the fighting spirit of all ranks of the regiment," said Maj. Peter Boyle of the Calgary Highlanders, which perpetuates the 10th Battalion to this day.

"He was a corporal, he was a sergeant and then an officer, and earned gallantry leading his men at all those levels, and that's very significant in our opinion."

The new portrait of McAndie was unveiled at the Calgary Highlanders Regimental Museum and Archives.

The portrait of David McAndie is unveiled at The Calgary Highlanders Regimental Museum and Archives. (Mike Symington/CBC)

"He volunteered to go fight for Canada and fight for the Empire in 1915," Boyle said.

"I think it's important for Canadians and Calgarians to remember that so many of those who died were volunteers."

McAndie was killed in the final 100 days of the war, kilometres behind the front lines.

"After being through such violent action, he was killed near the battalion's command post by a stray German shell," said Sam Blakely, a former Calgary Highlander, and current volunteer with the museum.

"He had the bad luck to be walking toward his command post."

'Conspicuous gallantry'

Less than a week earlier, McAndie had been awarded one of his highest honours — the Military Cross — for "conspicuous gallantry during an attack" on Aug. 8, 1918.

"He led his company splendidly, capturing and consolidating the position," his award citation reads.

"He then rapidly pushed his men forward and filled an important gap in the line. Later he captured and held a very strongly garrisoned position considerably in front of the final objective. He did very fine work."

Lt.-Col. Kyle Clapperton, commanding officer of the Calgary Highlanders, said McAndie's is a "fascinating story" that still resonates with soldiers a century later.

Lt.-Col. Kyle Clapperton, commanding officer of the Calgary Highlanders, said stories like David McAndie's inspire present-day soldiers. (Mike Symington/CBC)

"These stories, we identify with those now, and they inspire us," he said.

About half a dozen portraits of significant regiment leaders, mostly former officers, have been commissioned in the past but Boyle said this one is unique.

"Capt. McAndie is the first one we've commissioned purely for his brave acts," he said.

Calgary artist Jamie Morris, who painted the portrait, said it had an impact on him as he worked on the piece, based off an old studio photograph of McAndie.

Calgary artist Jamie Morris painted the portrait from an old photograph of David McAndie. (Mike Symington/CBC)

"I kind of got lost in the person behind the portrait," Morris said.

"The more I worked from this black-and-white photo, putting my own colour scheme to it, the more it seemed like he was coming to life. It was very much an honour to be in this position, to bring one of the Calgary Highlanders' most prestigious members to life again and give his name the respect it deserves."

Boyle said the plan is to hang the portrait in the Mewata Armoury for a while, to share it with current soldiers, before putting it on public display at the museum.

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