2nd Lieutenant, 11th Battalion Manchester Regiment.
Killed in action Saturday 7th August 1915, age 26.
Remembered on the Helles Memorial, Turkey, panel 158 to 170
Former student of banking.
Ronald was born on 6th April 1889, the second son of George Donald and Elizabeth Begbie Innes, and educated at a private school in Victoria Park. He was associated with Parr’s Bank Limited for nine years. As a prizeman of the Bankers’ Institute he attended a course of lectures at the University in 1908/09. He was an ardent worker with the Civic League of Help and Ancoats University Settlement. The latter was a leading social service charity bringing people of different classes together for mutual benefit. For example, academics and students provided education and culture to the poor through lectures, debates and concerts and in turn gained insights into the social conditions of the working classes in the hope of using that experience to influence public policy.
Ronald joined the University Officer Training Corps in August 1914 and enlisted as a private in the Public Schools’ Battalion. He was commissioned into the Manchester Regiment in December 1914.
In a diary he started on 1st July 1915 Ronald records the journey from England to Gallipoli. On 3rd July, he noted that many men were absent from rounds on account of sickness and blamed some of that on how closely packed into the ship they were. On 7th July news was received of a ship, that had started the same journey just a couple of days after his, being attacked by a submarine. During a few days at anchor in Malta during he was able to do some sightseeing and shopping and he notes a visit to a prisoner in the ships cells. At Alexandra (12th-15th July) he noted it had “fine buildings and the forest of masts made it very impressive”. Again he was able to go ashore, spent some time at a casino, was unimpressed by a place with native dancing women, enjoyed drinks at the Majestic Hotel and an expensive small piece of lamb and grapes. He wrote of beggars, a contortionist and a little boy doing drill on the shore and was amused by a “smart Egyptian police officer’s attempts to chase them away”.
They sailed from Alexandria on 16th July 1915. As the ship neared Mudros Bay on the Island of Lemnos, an allied base close to Gallipoli, Ronald witnessed a blood red sunset and recorded the following feelings in his 17th of July entry: “No particular sensation in view of the opening of this fresh chapter of happenings. Looking forward to future with a good deal of interest as to new experiences it holds, and with a dull kind of wonder as to my personal fate – a feeling of intellectual knowledge of possible horrors, not acute enough to cause mental trouble.” On the 19th he noted that the most recent Gallipoli landing had been heavily shelled. Amongst his duties was the need to censor men’s letters home and he himself would often use dashes instead of place names in his diary. Whilst on Lemnos he had many dealings with stores (water, food, meat, wood), ammunition and equipment inspections, and organised camp. He was ill with diarrhoea for a few days in late July 1915. In his last entry on the 4th August he recorded a quiet day, was feeling much better and received many letters from home and 17 day old newspapers.
On 6th August 1915 11th Battalion Manchester Regiment landed at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, under heavy fire. Early on the 7th they held a ridge from which they advanced and Ronald was killed leading his men in the attack.