Colin Jesse MacPherson

Colin Jesse MacPherson

Rank:Flying Officer
Regiment:Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number:115553
Cemetary/Memorial: Durnbach War Cemetary (1.F.26.)
Awards:1939-1945 Star
1939-1945 War Medal

Born on 1st September 1914, Flying Officer Macpherson died on 26th November 1943, aged 29 in Germany.

He was the middle son of Lieutenant-Colonel Archibald Duncan MacPherson, CIE (b.1872–1928) and Viva Tertia Pevensey MacPherson (nee Duke, 1886-1965).

Brother to Ian William and Archibald Norman (m. Joan Margaret Backhouse, daughter of the former admiral of the fleet, Sir Roger Backhouse, 8th Jan 1944). Both brothers also attended Saint Ronan’s and went on to serve: Ian as a Captain in the Royal Artillery, and Archibald as Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Navy where he was twice mentioned in dispatches. Archibald retains the Saint Ronan’s 100 Yards Under 10 record for 13.6 seconds from 1927. His sons attended the school in the 1960s.

Colin was a pupil at St Ronan’s from 1921 to 1928 where he was a keen sportsman, playing in the cricket, rugby and football (captain) teams. He won prizes for Latin, as well as the Victor Laudorum in 1928 and the All Round Cup. He was appointed Prefect in 1927 and Head Prefect in 1928. He was confirmed in the school chapel in 1928.

The Ronian reported on his exploits:

1927 – Cricket: “C. J. Macpherson - A very sound bat with a fine off-drive, and a useful forcing stroke to leg. He should get heaps of runs next season. As a wicket-keeper has improved out of all knowledge, and I am told he is the best one we have had at S. Ronan’s.”

1928 – Football: “Macpherson was the mainstay of the whole defence, and was excellent.”

“(Left back, Captain) A quite first-class Preparatory School back. He is a brilliant tackler and a fine kickwith both feet. He has been the mainstay of the defence; an admirable Captain on and off the field.”

1928 – Cricket: “A batsman of tremendous power. He plays his ordinary defensive forward shots as hard as a normal boy plays a full-blooded drive, and so long as he plays well within him­self is a match-winning player. He has kept wicket well throughout the season.”

1928 – Drama: “Macpherson’s Macbeth was a great interpretation, and came as near what Shakespeare meant it to be, perhaps, as one could expect from boys. His rendering of: “ Is this a dagger that I see before me? ” was simply first class. Many people thought that it was the most successful play that they have heard. Certainly it would be fair to say that we could seldom have had two actors who are better than Macpherson and Stanley.” His performance was still being referred to in The Ronian in 1937.  

And upon his departure reported:
“All these people we shall miss. Macpherson has had a splendid record here, being Head of the School, Captain of Soccer and Rugger, and Secretary of Cricket. We can fill these posts very much more easily than we can fill the gap caused by the loss of a real personality in one of the most ripping of people.”

He returned to visit the school in 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932 and 1934. He attended the Old Ronians’ Dinner in 1930, 1931 and 1936.

Following his brother, Ian, he gained a scholarship to Stowe (Grenville House, 1928-1932) where he was Prefect, Head of House, Head of School, Captain of rugby, and was in the 1st IX cricket. He went on to become a Scholar of Corpus Christi College Cambridge. The Ronian noted that he had been elected to a History Exhibition at Corpus Christi in 1933 and in 1934 attained Honours in Modern Language Tripos, Class II., Division I.

In 1937, he joined the Indian Civil Service where he was stationed in Lahore. The Ronian reported the event as follows:

“Then there were the two great Macphersons, and Colin was recently on the select list of young men picked on their own personal qualities alone for the Indian Civil Service - the first batch to be selected in that manner, which is a great tribute to him.”

Colin joined the air force in 1942. He was killed whilst flying in a Halifax II, HR811 DY-C of No 102 Squadron Halifax. The flight departed at 23:42 on 25th November 1943 from Pocklington to bomb a target in Frankfurt. Reports state that the aircraft was hit by night-fighter and hit by flak, which killed P/O MacPherson in the initial attack. The plane was abandoned and crashed at Bürgstadt, in the general vicinity of Frankfurt. The remaining crew were taken as Prisoners of War.

His death is also noted on the Corpus Christie, Cambridge, memorial.

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