"Major Gordon holds a special place in our hearts and history because he
saved the soul of our nation while performing his duty to King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium.
He truly deserves a hero's welcome at Valhalla!"
Archibald Alexander Gordon was born on September 3, 1867, as the second child of William Eagleson Gordon, MD and Emily Maryann Dick. He was the younger brother of William Eagleson Gordon, who earned the Victoria Cross in the Second Boer War later on. His mother was a descendant of the famous Scottish family Mackenzie, who returned with her son George Freer Jr. from the West Indies after her former husband died unexpectedly. In Scotland, she married Dr William Eagleson Gordon on 12 July 1865 in Edinburgh. The couple went to live in the Spa town of Bridge of Allan. At the age of five, Archibald lost his father at the age of 51 on January 15, 1873. Archibald's mother was pregnant with her sixed child. Later on, she moved the family for a one-year stay in Switzerland. She settled in Ouchy, near Lake Geneva. Archibald and his older brother William went to the same school as the nephews of General Charles G. Gordon (‘Chinese Gordon’). General Gordon visited Lausanne in March 1880 and taught the Sunday class for several weeks. His way of teaching inspired Archibald and many others. Archibald also met with General Gordon outside of school hours near the lake, where he told many of the students some fantastic stories.
By the end of 1880, the family returned to Scotland, and Archibald and his brother went to Dr Hamilton Bruce's School in Edinburgh. Archibald was further educated at Edinburgh Collegiate School and the University of Edinburgh, where he studied for five years and earned the title of 'Chartered Accounted'.
MARRIAGE AND CHILDEREN
Although Archibald had a degree in Chartered Accountant, he never intended to practice it and decided to become a resident agent. He found a job at the Wimborne estates in Cranford, Dorset. During the two years he spent at Dorset, he had the pleasantry to meet his beloved lifelong companion Maude. Gordon married Lizzie Maude Smith, who was five years younger than him. Her father was Major General Edmund Davidson Smith, former Assistant Adjutant General of the Dublin district and a veteran of the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny. The couple got engaged and married in the year 1892.
Archibald and his wife Maude had their first-born twins on 23 August 1893 in Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland. Their two sons were William Hyde Eagleson Gordon and Archibald George Ramsay Gordon. Archibald died tragically on second Christmas day. Three years later, Archibald received his third son Edmund Robert Adam Gordon, born at his grandmother's home in Edinburgh. Both sons were educated at Haileybury College. William became later a Cambridge undergratued for studying Holy Orders. Following the First World War outbreak, he has commissioned a temporary lieutenant in the 8th Gordon Highlanders. His brother also enlisted and was commissioned the same rank in the 7th Seaforth Highlanders. They both arrived in France on 5 May 1915.
Archibald co-founded the 9th Volunteer Battalion Highlanders, Royal Scots, with Sheriff James Ferguson of Kinmundy and Andrew Gordon, who later became the regiment's Quartermaster. Archibald was appointed Captain on 6 August 1900 after his brother earned the Victoria Cross in the Second Boer War. Archibald's younger brother Robert Aaron Gordon served in the Royal Scots in South Africa. He returned and settled down in London, where he died after a brief illness on 26 March 1903. Archibald felt left behind and volunteered for overseas service. His request was denied because of his family situation. He later became an Honorary Secretary to the Edinburgh and East of Scotland Field Hospital for South Africa.
Archibald already held a similar position with the Franco-Scottish Society, a post which earned him the Knight of the Legion D’Honneur (France) in 1898. In 1896 Archibald became a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the King's Bodyguard for Scotland. The unit had the ceremonial purpose of protecting the British monarch during his or her visit to Scotland.
In 1905 Archibald was promoted to Major in the 9th Royal Scots. A year later, he left Edinburgh for London to take up his duties as private secretary for the 4th Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley. Archibald held this position until 1920.
THE GREAT WAR
On the First World War outbreak, Archibald was asked by de Belgian aristocrat Count de Lalaing to organise what later would be called the Belgian Relief Fund. Archibald delivered all the funds and collected aid to the Belgian government in Antwerp and was frequently summoned by King Albert I. After the Admiralty refused to risk any of their ships for the crossing, Archibald was asked by Colonel - later General - Jack Seely to become his Orderly Officer. Archibald agreed and was given back his former rank of Major. During the Siege of Antwerp, Major Gordon evacuated the hospitals under intense bombardment. Later, he and colonel Seely evacuated the marines from 63rd (Royal Naval) Division to Bruges and Ostend. After Major Gordon's returned to London, he received a message from the Admiralty to report to them once he arrived in London. At the Admiralty, Major Gordon gave a long account of the events to Winston Churchill and was tasked to make a report by the following morning. Afterwards, Major Gordon received a request from the Belgian military household to conduct a task in London for King Albert I of Belgium and then travel to La Panne. After his arrival, King Albert asked him if he was willing to take up the position of Belgian King's Messenger. Major Gordon was honoured and held the position until 1922. During his time as kings Messenger, he fulfilled many tasks and missions for the Belgian Royal Family in Belgium, France and England. He became a most respected member of the Belgian Royal household.
Major Gordon lost his oldest son William Hyde Eagleson Gordon, during the Battle of Loos on 30 September 1915. His youngest son had suffered from Jaundice and neurasthenia and later suffered from a leg and hand wound. After several surgeries, some parts of Edmund's hand and fingers were amputated. Edmund was later diagnosed with Tuberculosis and tragically died from this disease in 1932.
LATER LIFE AND DEATH
After Major Gordon resigned his position as Private Secretary to the Duke of Wellington, he moved with his wife to Stow-on-the-Wold. Unfortunately, the high altitude was not good for his wife's health. After a brief vacation in his hometown of Bridge of Allan, they concluded that the climate was perfect for her. Major Gordon bought the home Jessamine, and the couple lived happily for several years until Maude died in 1929.
After Edmund died in 1932, Major Gordon joined the Hellenic Travellers Club and travelled to the Holy Land for the first time. Here he learned about the discovery of the mosaics of the Church of the Multiplication at Galilea. After meeting Father Tapper and many archaeologists, Major Gordon started funding £400 for a roof over the mosaics. In 1937 he translated. Alfons M. Scheider book under the title: "Church of the Multiplying of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha, Lake of Galilee, and its Mosaics". On 14 May 1938, the article "A Scotsman builds a chapel in Galilee" was published in 'The Sphere'.
In 1939 Major Gordon - reluctantly - wrote his memoirs under the title: "Culled from a Diary" and was assisted by the British writer Anna Masterton Buchan. The book was published in 1941 by the publisher Oliver&Boyd. Major Gordon records in the final chapter of his memoirs:
"I end with what I might have preceded my account of my service under King Albert. Almost his first request was; Major, I always wish for the truth. I do not always get it! And please never publish anything when with me".
Major Gordon kept his double promise to the King.
In 1941 Major Gordon lost his oldest brother Wiliam Eagleson Gordon after William had been a casualty of the bombing at Piccadilly Square while residing at the In & Out club.
During the final years of his life, Major Gordon had a close friendship with his cousin Ronald Eagleson Gordon. They corresponded by letters and shared many stories about the family. Later, Major Gordon decided to bequeath his family heirlooms to Ronald, while his home Jessamine and other belongings went to his nephew General Cameron Gordon Graham Nicholson. His brother Brigadier Reginald Arran Graham Nicholson later donated some of his family's history to the Imperial War Museum in London. Ronald made sure that the lore of Major Gordon's family was passed down to his son Cyril Vivian Eagleson Gordon MC & Bar, who passed it down to his sons. Ronald Eagleson Gordon is considered the forefather of the Major A. A. Gordon Society.
Major Gordon died on 12 August 1949.
GORDON FAMILY TREE
Peter of Ballee William of Ballyskeagh 1697 - ?
Mary Boak Mary Ross
Aaron Gordon William Gordon (1738 - 1831) Margaret Gordon Mary Gordon
Margaret Boak (1744 - 14/11/1837) .... Martin
Elizabeth(... - 1839) Aaron(1781 - 8/10/1844) Robert of Stragollen (1774- 7/9/1850) William(..- ./1/1837) Mary
Ellen Eagleson (1786 - 21/09/1860)
George (22/6/1824 - 4/6/1896) William(15/5/1812 - 25/2/1814) Aaron (17/5/1814 - 29/1/1860) Matilda An (1/11/1817 - 1863) William E. (4/6/1831-15/1/1873) Elizabeth Robert (4/6/1823 - 23/7/1823) Margaret (5/5/1810 - 1816) Ellen (1827 - 1899) Robert (1830 - 1883)
X (1)Marion Hay Forbes
X (2) Emelia M. Dick
William Eagleson Archibald Alexander Robert Aaron Emily Mackenzie Helen Isabelle
Lizzie Maude Smith
William "Bill" Hyde Eagleson Archibald Edmund Robert Adam