Matthew Meiklejohn was educated at
Fettes College. He
joined the Gordon Highlanders
in India in 1891. He saw active service with the Chitral Relief Force (1895)
and the Tirah Expedition (1897). He was promoted to Captain in 1899.
South African War (Boer War), Meiklejohn
won his VC for his actions at the
Battle of Elandslaagte on 21 October 1899. His citation from
London Gazette (issue 27212 of 20 July 1900) reads:
Battle of Elandslaagte, on the 21st October, 1899, after the main Boer position had
been captured, some of the men of the Gordon Highlanders, when about to
advance, were exposed to a heavy cross-fire and, having lost their leaders,
commenced to waver. Seeing this, Captain Meiklejohn rushed to the front and
called on the Gordons to follow him. By his conspicuous bravery and fearless
example, he rallied the men and led them against the enemy's position where
he fell, desperately wounded in four places."
Owing to the severity of his wounds, Meiklejohn's
right arm was amputated.
Meiklejohn went on to become a very efficient Staff
Officer. He moved to the War Office in 1909 working in the department of the
Director of Military Training. He later achieved the rank of Major.
Major Meiklejohn died on 4 July 1913 following a fall
from his horse in Hyde Park. His horse was startled by the salute during an
OTC inspection and galloped away towards a group of children. To avoid them,
Meiklejohn turned his horse against the railings of Rotten Row. He was
thrown off and never regained consciousness. The Times reported it as
an act of heroic self-sacrifice.
Major Meiklejohn was buried with full military honours.
The first part of the service was held in the private
chapel of the Middlesex Hospital, where he died. A military procession
to the Necropolis station followed,
whilst at Brookwood a short service took place in the cemetery chapel before
the burial took place.
A plaque was placed on the wall of Knightsbridge
Barracks with the details of the incident along with the words "He gave his
life to save others". His Victoria Cross is displayed at the
Gordon Highlanders Museum,