Queen's WWI - MacTavish, Roswell Murray

Roswell Murray MacTavish – image courtesy of Queen’s University Archives

Roswell ‘Ross’ Murray MacTavish was born on September 22, 1888 in St. George, Ontario, the son of William MacTavish and Margaret (née McKay). His father was the Presbyterian minister of Deseronto between 1895 and 1905 and Ross attended both the Deseronto Public School and Deseronto High School.

He studied at Queen’s University, getting his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1907 and a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1913. He had obtained a travelling scholarship and was in England at the outbreak of World War I. On this date in 1914 he enlisted as a trooper in the 2nd King Edward’s Horse regiment. He obtained a commission as a second lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment on March 13th, 1915.

MacTavish was the first person with a Deseronto connection to join the armed forces in the First World War. He rose to the rank of Captain and was awarded the Military Cross on January 1, 1919.

MacTavish continued to serve in France after the war, working at the headquarters of the 6th Infantry Brigade. He died of influenza in the No. 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital at Arques on February 6, 1919 and was buried in the Longuenesse Souvenir Cemetery, Saint-Omer.

Ross MacTavish’s younger brother, Wilfrid, named his son (born in Saskatchewan in 1919) Roswell Murray. Roswell Murray MacTavish junior joined the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War as a flying officer and was killed when his Hurricane aircraft crashed in Scotland on March 18th, 1944. He was buried in Ayr cemetery.