Thomas Girdwood MacFie DSO, MC, C de G


Thomas Girdwood MacFie, a South African infantryman, who won an MC on the Western Front and the DSO in North Russia.

Thomas Girdwood Macfie, who had, to say the least, a colourful life. TG Macfie, was in France in 1915 with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, but cashiered in 1916, apparently for difficulties with mess funds. He then re-joined the South African Brigade initially as a private soldier, serving in France in 1917-19 (mentioned in despatches, MC), in N. Russia (Archangel) in 1919 where he got the DSO and the Russian orders of St Anne and St Stanislas). He was went on to be a Staff Officer in the Lithuanian Army in 1920, and then Adjutant, Royal Irish Constabulary 1920-21. The rest of his career was equally exotic, featuring embezzlement in Nice, liberating young women of their funds in Egypt before settling for some time in Morocco, before returning to UK in late 1930s. The source of most of these facts is his entry in Old Boys Record for St Peter's College, Radley School.

Crozier states that TGM made off with RIC Auxiliary Division funds when he resigned

A despatch from Lt Col RF B Ward, Assistant Commissioner, British Commission for the Baltic Provinces to Lord Curzon ( then Foreign Secretary) dated 12/2/20. When discussing the difficulties Crozier is having with the Lithuanians he states: 'In addition to General Crozier's officers, there still remain four British officers for organisation of the Lithuanian Aviation Corps, who are on a separate contract altogether.' This comes from D Cameron Watt ed British Documents on Foreign Affairs Confidential Print Part II Series A Vol 2 p140 (University Publications of America, 1984).

He joined the Canadians in Canadian Infantry Battalion in Vancouver in Nov 1914 (though his home address was in London). He had previous service with the Witwaterstrand Rifles in SA and was a Surveyor. He was court-martialed and dismissed the service in 1916 only to join the S Africans and win a MC (Gazetted in July 1918) and a DSO in Russia in June 1919.

A complex personal life, apparently with bigamy thrown in

1892 Aug 24. Birth registered in Kensington

1901 census. He is a boarding pupil at a private school in Eastbourne

1908 Feb 2. Leaves Southampton for New York. Aged 15years 6 months "Thomas Gerwood Macfie", a student, born London on SS Philadelphia Next of kin given as Mrs Frank Adams, Fairview, Milford on Sea.

1909 Jul 18 Thomas Girdwood MacFie arrives Philadelphia from Liverpool on SS Friesland. He is a student aged 16 years and 10 months. His next of kin is given as Mrs F R Adams of The Stucking, Benbridge, IOW.

1910 Nov 21 Arrives in UK from Melbourne , Australia. Thomas G Macfie, aged 18 "journalist" on SS Medic

1911 census "Thomas Garwood Macfie" age 18, born Kensington, is a Private in RAMC at Mc Gregor Barracks, Farnham, Surrey

1912 Feb 23. Passed the exam in Military Law & Sanitation as a Private in RAMC

1912 Jul 3. Thomas G MacFie marries Madeline Norbury Gordon in Portsmouth. His profession is given as "journalist"

marriage macfie

1913 A son Brian TG Macfie born. The son emigrates to Canada in 1929, Madoline is living in Brussels in 1929

1914 Nov 13. Attested for Canadian Forces.

attestation Macfie

macfie 2

1915 May 19. Promoted Lt

As an officer in 29th Vancouver Battalion. The Battalion was raised and mobilized in Vancouver, British Columbia under the authority of G.O. 36, of 15th March 1915 and sailed on 20th May 1915. It served in France and Belgium with the 6th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Division and was disbanded on 15th September 1920. 

1915 Dec . Served in HQ Canadian Training Division, based at Shorncliffe, Kent

1916 Nov. MacFie's court-martial. The papers from Canada show that he was charged with the fraudulent misappropriation of property in that he that he endorsed official cheques in his own name so that he could cash them himself.   He was at the time working under the AA & QMG and was responsible for settling debts of officers who had issued dud cheques. The idea was that the Canadian Army would settle the bills and reclaim the money from the officers' pay.

1916 Dec 28. 30th (Res.) Can. Inf. Bn. Lt. T. G. Macfie is dismissed the Service by sentence of a Gen. Court-Martial - Radey College entries suggest apparently for difficulties with mess funds. London Gazette . Unit: 30th Res. Bn. Offence: 41, 40. RG150 - Ministry of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada, Series 8, File 602-13-13, Microfilm Reel Number T-8694, file access code 90, Finding Aid Number 150-5

The offences for which he was tried were 40 & 41. Section 40 covered acting "to the prejudice of good order and military discipline." Section 41 stated that courts martial could try soldiers for treason, murder, rape, manslaughter and a number of other civil offences when they occurred more than one hundred miles away from the nearest civilian court.

He then reappears in 4th South African Infantry

1917 Jun It was clear that the reconstructed South African Brigade could not continue. The drafts received after the debacle of 24th March 1917 had been used up in the heavy fighting on the Messines-Wytschaete Ridge, and further reinforcements were not forthcoming to build it up to some semblance of fighting strength. No other course was possible but to organize the remnants into one battalion. The history of the doings of the South Africans in France is now the history of this composite unit, which was commanded by Lieut .-Colonel H. W. M. Bamford, M.C., of the 2nd Regiment, with Major H. H. Jenkins of the 1st as second-in-command, and Second-Lieutenant MacFie of the 4th as adjutant. The four companies were made up of officers, N.C.O's, and men of the old regiments, and these, with the drafts arriving from England, brought the battalion to a total strength of 59 officers and 1,527 other ranks.

He is wearing the collar badges of the Cape Town Highlanders, but seems to be wearing the circular South African General Service cap badge, instead of the regimental badge.

1918 Jan 23 London Gazette South African Infantry The undermentioned to be temp. 2nd .Lts. : No. X274 Serjt. T. G. MacFie (on prob.)

1918 Jul 26 MC Gazetted T,/2nd Lt. Thomas Girdwood MacFie, Infy. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during the evacuation, when he went from position to position, under heavy fire, encouraging 'his men, and was largely responsible for the orderly nature of the withdrawal. Later, although wounded, he rallied stragglers from various units and led them forward through a heavy barrage, and in view of the enemy. By his action he secured a flank position and established that part of the line, maintaining it until relieved by fresh troops..

1919 Apr 8 married in St George's Hanover Square, London to Winifred Gertrude Littlewood (his name is recorded as McPhee)

1919 Apr 9/ S. Afr. Gen. List. From 4th S. Afr. Inf: The undermentioned Officers, from S. Afr. Inf., are transferred, retaining their present rank and seniority :Temp. 2nd Lt, T. G. MacFie, M.C.

On a list of South Africans serving in Russia. Captain T.G. MacFie, who served with the Cossacks and the Machine Gun Corps (MID). Wright's book gives him as 4 South African Inf in Elope Force. The Russion intervention force was divided into two, Syren, which was bound for Murmansk, and Elope, which was to land at Archangel. Murmansk was reached on 24 June 1918, and Elope Force then sailed on to Archangel after a stop of some five weeks' duration.

This is him in SA uniform, probably on his way to Russia

1919 Jun 2. His DSO citation (gazetted 3/10/19) reads: On 2 June 1919, he was near the 18-pounder gun position on his way to the observation post. He collected and organized some infantry at this point. He then went back to Priluk, rallying and encouraging Russian infantry who were disorganized, and himself led a counter-attack against Priluk, which was recaptured, together with all the guns. This success was due to his marked gallantry and ability to command. He also got the Russian orders of St Anne and St Stanislas. Priluk is about 250km upriver from Archangel

1919 Jul 23 S. Afr. Gen. List. Temp. 2nd Lt. T. G. MacFie, M.C., to be temp. Lt. London Gazette .

1919 Oct 23. S. Afr. Gen. List.—Temp. Lt. (actg. Capt.) T. G. MacFie. M.C., relinquishes his commn. on completion of service, and is granted the rank of Capt. London Gazette

1919 Oct 28. Macfie served in Lithuania 28/10/19 – 1/3/20. For reasons I am not clear of, he was with their Air Force, the only man of the 5 without wings or half-wings

The sheep wool hat is standard winter dress for the Lithuanians and usually seen with a greatcoat that he’s probably taken off for the photograph. The peaked forage cap is the dress for temperate climates.

With him [Carr] was our Tom Macfie, who I believe exercised a baneful influence over the whole Corps and some of my other officers. Through the machinations of MacFie the British connection with the Flying Corps was broken up. Crozier

In The Men I Killed (p117) Crozier mentions a captain DSO MC who attempted to have Crozier kidnapped and  shot because ‘I interfered in an undesirable love affair which was hampering his work.’ Forewarned, Crozier confronted the officer and had him sent home immediately. Later he came across this man, now in the Auxies, in Ireland and they buried the hatchet. If this story is true it could possibly have been Macfie.

1920 Mar 1. MacFie resigns in Lithuania.

1920 Ju;/Sep a child Julie born in Newton Abbot, Devon

1920 Jul 27 Joined ADRIC, one of the early recruits with service no 13. Oddly there is nothing about his posting nor his ranks. According to ADRIC records (HO 184/52) he had the Croix de Guerre avec palme, the Russian Order of St Anne 2nd & 3rd Class, and the Polish Order of St Stanislaus 2nd & 3rd Class.

27 Jul 1920 to 3 Sep 1920 He was 2nd in command of A Coy

1920 Sep 3 to 1920 Nov 21 I do not know for sure where he was posted, but given that Reynolds refers to "McVeigh" as being the second in command ADRIC at that time, I assume this was MacFie, the pronunciation being similar.

21 Nov 1920 to 19 Feb 1921 He was Adjutant of ADRIC

1921 Feb 19. Resigns from ADRIC and is "struck off" strength of the division.

patria letter

Crozier ascribes this letter to MacFie, published in Times 19 Feb 1921

patri second letter

Patria wrote a second letter a week later

trim resignation

1921 Hansard

1921 Mar 1. From Hansard

Crozier states in Impressions and Recollections p267 that MacFie embezzled money taken in fines from Auxies. Crozier suggested to the Irish Office that he be arrested but nothing was done. MacFie was later arrested by the French authorities for embezzling money of a fashionable French club on the Riviera. Sentenced to a spell in prison, he was pardoned by the French government because he held the Croix de Guerre. This clearly happened before 1930, when the book was published, and was reported by the British Press, but I could not find anything in The Times archive.

1921 he divorced his wife. Divorce Court File: 4866. Appellant: Thomas Girdwood Macfie. Respondent: Madoline Norbury Macfie. Co-respondent: Paul Juen. Type: Husband's petition for divorce - J 77/1761/4866. Interestingly she does appear to marry him as Paul M V J A Zuen in Jul/Sep 1926

1921 Aug. According to FO 847/78, He went to Egypt in August 1921.

1922 Sep 25. married a Vivienne Snelling in Alexandria, Egypt

1922 Nov 27. He had persuaded a Miss Maude Dale to hand him £200 Egyptian, which he promised to invest for her and return three months later with 12 per cent interest. He failed to do this and so, hearing that he was intending to leave the country, Maude Dale arranged for an injunction to be taken out. Macfie was ordered to appear in court on 1 December, but failed to do so. A warrant for his arrest was issued that same day, but it turned out that he had, with his wife, taken a boat for Marseilles on 27 November.

1924 Sep 27 Arrested in Italy

1926 Mar. Sentenced by French Court in Nice to 3 years prison. He was released straight after the time of his trial as he had already been in prison for 14 months


1926 Jun 9. The army removes his rank of Captain as a result of his jail sentence

1927 Apr 14 His papers have this photo of Cape to Cairo flight under Sanson. I am unclear as to what his connection was. It landed in Livingstone, Northen Rhodesia in Apr 1927

1927 Address at 14 Via del Vigna Nuova, Florence when he claims his medals.

1926/1930 marries Juliette Madier and registers marriage in British consulate in Marrakesh

1930 Aug 28. Leaves London on SS Viceroy of India with wife Juliette Macfie bound for Gibraltar, with the intention of living in Morocco. He is a journalist

1934 Appears in British Consulate Court in Morocco about a Land Fraud

1934 Jan.11, Great Britain. High Court of Justice. King's Bench Division TD Statement of Claim ; Thomas Girdwood MacFie suing D. B. Wyndham Lewis[sic] claiming damages based upon "Filibusters in Barbary". Libel case3

Times lible case Macfie

The Times, Tuesday, Jun 08, 1937;

The rest of his career was equally exotic, featuring embezzlement in Nice, liberating young women of their funds in Egypt before settling for some time in Morocco, before returning to UK in late 1930s.

1935 Jun 21. Arrived UK from South Africa on Llanstephan Castle from Cape town.

1935 Oct 2. Leaves UK for Tangier, Morocco. Occupation given as "mines" living at 86 Canfield Gdns London NW6 (also of that address on the ship is a Mr Raymond Benady)

1935 Oct 10. Informs British Consul in Rabat that he will no longer be working in Agidir, but in Casablanca

1936 Apr 24. His wife turns up at British Consul in Rabat, on MacFie's behalf to see what the charges against him were

1936 Jul 3. Reported arrested in Ceuta for breaking into a wine shop & expected to get 1 or 2 months prison.

The British Consul in Rabat is keen to get MacFie

1936 Oct Returns to UK with his wife

1937 Jun 8 Another libel case, this time against News Chronicle which he wins

1939 Jun 16, Donates prizes for a British Legion dance at Brockham

1939 Dec 18. Travels from UK to New York. He is listed as a "Manufacturer of Imperial Works, Ryland Rd, London NW5" and travels on SS Lancastria

1941 died Windsor


Parcell Bowen


This odd Thomas Girdwood MacFie I don't see how he fits