The following summary of Fergus Mackain’s life includes a timeline of the 23rd (First Sportsman’s) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers in WW1. A dotted line border indicates overlap between Mackain and 23RF. Please submit additional facts or clarifications via the comments section at the bottom of the page, or directly to fmsketches@macbrem.com.
23rd Royal Fusiliers
March: Fergus Herbert Elgin Mackain is born in Saint John, NB, in Canada. He is the second of seven children for Fergus Henry and Annie Mackain. Mackain’s father was born in England and relocated to Canada in 1873.

The family has moved to Stoughton, MA, in the United States. Three of Mackain’s siblings are born here during this time. His father is a civil engineer.

The family moves to Augusta, GA. The last of Mackain’s siblings is born here. Around the same time, his father dies of unknown causes.

The family relocates to Asheville, NC and is based there for over 15 years.

By now, Mackain is living in New York and working as an illustrator for the advertising industry. He marries Louise, and they live in Manhattan.

Mackain’s first son “Mackie” is born. Another son follows two years later.

July: The Great War begins in Europe

September: The 23rd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (23RF) is formed in London.
November: 23RF moves to Hornchurch camp for training.

Mackain works his passage on a horse transport ship from New York to London.
November: Mackain enlists with 30th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, a reserve unit for 23RF and goes through training (“In Training”) in Leamington Spa, Oxford, and Edinburgh.
June: 23RF relocates to Clipstone Camp and comes under command of 99th Brigade, 33rd Division.
November: 23RF sails from Folkestone to Boulogne.
December: 23RF goes Up The Line to the frontline trenches and joins 5th Brigade of the BEF 2nd Division.
May/June: Mackain travels by boat to France and then by land to the BEF base at Etaples (“At Base”).
June/July: Mackain is transferred from 30RF to 23RF; goes by train to The Front; experiences battle (“Up The Line”); and has time off for rest and recuperation (“Out On Rest”).
July: 23RF takes part in the Somme offensive. The battalion experiences particularly heavy fighting and casualties at the Battle of Delville Wood

The winter of 1916/17 has been well documented as being especially cold and harsh.
April: Mackain writes home to his son “Mackie” (the illustrated letter) from Boulogne, France. By now, Mackain has been wounded in battle, and taken ill with an undisclosed sickness. Sometime after this Mackain is transferred to the Army Service Corps (ASC).
October: The first “Tommy’s Life” set – In Training – is published by Gaultier.
November: The second set – At Base – is published by Gaultier.
Mackain cards are also published by Savigny toward the end the year.
March-April: Intense fighting during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

May: Lieut.-Colonel E.A. Winter, D.S.O., M.C. takes over command of 23RF.

Mackain is now with the Army Service Corps (ASC).
The remainder of the Mackain cards are published by Gaultier and Savigny during the year.
The remainder of 23rd Battalions activities in 1917 and 1918 are well documented.
It is suspected that, by this time, Mackain was no longer in 23rd and now in the ASC.
November: The end of World War 1
December: Mackain is discharged from the Army, and remains in England.

November: Mackain’s children’s book “BUZZY - The Story Of A Little Teddy Bear Friend Of Mine” is published while he is living in England.

August: Mackain returns home to his family in New York after 5 years in Europe. “Mackie” is now 9.

November: Mackain is admitted to Oteen Hospital in Asheville, NC.

July: Mackain dies of pulmonary tuberculosis, and is buried in Riverside Cemetery, Asheville.

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