Major Malcolm Arthur Neilson, whose brother Donald also died in the First World War, was born at Kettering on 3 September 1894 and took part in the successful storming of Vimy Ridge by Canadian forces. He and his brother came from Lyddington, sons of William Fitzroy and Anna Helen Neilson, of the Rockery, and both were among the first to enlist. Malcolm entered Oakham School in 1908, and when the war broke out was a student at Ontario Agricultural College, Canada. He joined the 2nd Canadian Infantry Battalion as Sergeant, presumably on the basis of his officer training at Oakham School and his membership of the local militia, and left for France in January 1915. He received his Commission a few months later, and was promoted to Major in the autumn of 1916. He fought in the 2nd Battle of Ypres in April 1915, when the Germans first used poison gas and the Canadians faced it without masks. Malcolm had a serious accident while teaching in a grenade school in France on 28 December 1915. He was invalided home, but returned to the front in September 1916. The Battle of Arras began on 9 April 1917 and he fought in the action that captured Vimy Ridge, a long, gradual slope, which reaches a height of more than 450 feet at the summit. "Sweeping onwards with irresistible fury, they overran three lines of German trenches, including the famous La Folie Farm, captured the village of Farbus and secured the splendid total of 70 officers and 3500 men as prisoners." It was quite early in this attack that Major Neilson was killed by a shell while helping his servant who had previously been hit. A brother officer wrote: "He was not only admired and respected, he was loved. It was generally conceded that he was one of the most able and efficient officers in the battalion. But to those of us who knew him intimately, who lived and worked with him, he was not only an exceptionally able soldier, but a gentleman of the first water. He lived his life with a definite purpose for usefulness. He was clean in thought, word, and action. He had a clear conception of the obligations of life, and, with benefit to all who came in contact with him, he tried with success to carry them out." He lies buried in the cemetery at Ecoivres, grave V.D.5, and is remembered on Lyddington's war memorial, the war memorial in Stoke Dry where his mother was living at the time of his death, as well as in the Chapel at Oakham School. Oakham School Magazine wrote: "Captain M A Neilson returned to England just over two years ago with the Canadian forces holding the rank of Sergeant and after short training went to the front. He was soon commissioned to a Lieutenancy. Early last year he received head injuries at a Grenade school and was incapacitated for about six months. He returned to the Front in the middle of the summer." The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has his age as 23.
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