The MacRobert Family
The story starts with Sir Alexander MacRobert, Baronet of Crawnmore and Cromar, and founder of the British India Corporation, and his wife, Lady Rachael MacRobert. Lady MacRobert was born in the USA, and was the daughter of a famous New England physician. She had been widowed in 1922 and was left with three sons, Alasdair, Roderic, and Iain. Alasdair succeeded his father to become Baronet, and Chairman of the British India Corporation.
Tragically Sir Alasdair was killed in an air crash in 1938, and was succeeded by Roderic as the third Baronet. Sir Roderic was granted a commission in the RAF and served in the Middle East with 237 squadron. In 1941 he was killed leading a section of Hurricanes in an attack on the air base at Monsul. Sir Roderic lead the attack formation which successfully caused massive collateral damage to the air base, as well as destroying many Junkers and Messerschmitt aircraft on the ground. How he was killed remains unclear, but his aircraft was believed shot down and he was never seen alive again.
Lady MacRobert responded with fortitude and determination:
'I am proud that he did his duty and lived up to the family motto "Virutis Gloria Merces" - Honour is the Reward of Bravery'.
The fourth Baronet, Sir Iain, was also serving in the RAF as a pilot with Coastal Squadron, but in less than a month of his reign he too was killed in action when his aircraft was reported lost after a search of the North Sea for a downed bomber crew. Lady MacRobert wrote immediately to the Air Ministry.
Her letter demonstrated the remarkable fortitude and resilience of a proud mother:
"It is my wish, as a mother, to reply in a way my sons would applaud - attack with great fire power, head on and hard. The amount of £25,000 is to buy a bomber aircraft to continue my son's work in the most effective way. This expresses my feelings on receiving notice about my sons …
They would be happy that their mother would avenge them and help to attack the enemy. I, therefore, feel that an appropriate name for the bomber would be the MacRobert's Reply. The aircraft should also bear the MacRobert's coat of arms the family crest, a crossed fern leaf and an Indian rose. Let the bomber serve where there is the most need of her and may luck be with those who fly her. If I had 10 sons, I know they all would have done service for their country".
Rachel Workman MacRobert
Please visit the Facebook page below for an overview of the MacRobert's Reply story and my father's involvement.