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Tom Darke Mackie

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Tom Darke MacKie (1883-1941)

1942 Obituary [1]

Colonel TOM DARKE MACKIE, C.M.G., O.B.E., had a long and distinguished career in the service of the Air Ministry, for whom he carried out many important works, involving the expenditure of several million pounds, in many parts of the world.

He was born in 1883 and received his education at Sedburgh School. During 1902 and 1903 he was employed as junior chemist to the Barrow Haematite Steel Company, and after concluding his apprenticeship, which he served from 1903 to 1905 with Messrs. Humpage, Jacques and Pedersen, mechanical engineers, of Bristol, he entered the works of the Taff Vale Railway Company at Cardiff, as an improver, returning for a brief period as draughtsman and assistant to Messrs. Humpage, Jacques and Pederten.

In 1907 he became assistant manager to the Albion Chemical Company and two years later was appointed manager. He went to Russia in 1909 as engineer to the Neva Stearine Company, of St. Petersburg, to whom he was responsible for the construction and installation of the plant. On his return to England in 1910 he was for two years chief engineer to the Heskett Steel Castings Company and took charge of their large briquetting plant at Beckton. From 1912 till the outbreak of the war of 1914-18 he occupied a similar position with the London Flambo Fuel Company.

He obtained his commission in the R.N.A.S. as flight sub-lieutenant (E.) and went to France, being promoted to the rank of flight commander in 1915. He served with distinction in the Dardanelles where he took command of the 1st Airship Expeditionary Force and was responsible for the erection of workshops and sheds for aircraft, in which connexion he designed a hydrogen plant for the Airship Section. In 1916 he formed a nucleus of the Air Construction Service which began with five companies but eventually increased to a force of 112 officers and nearly 4,000 other ranks. He was promoted to be squadron leader, and later wing commander (E.), in the following year. In 1918 he was transferred to the Air Ministry and appointed Deputy Director of Maintenance Services, a post which he combined with that of superintending civil engineer, and was granted the rank of Colonel (technical). He was entrusted with the operation of forming an organization for taking over (from the War Department, Admiralty, and Royal Engineers) all maintenance works on behalf of the R.A.F., a task of some magnitude, as it concerned the staffs of 400 stations, numbering 480 officers and 10,000 other ranks.

He was also responsible for the execution of important works in France and the Mediterranean area as well as at numerous aerodromes in England and Scotland, involving the expenditure of £3,000,000. For these services he was awarded the C.M.G. in 1918. At the Air Ministry he subsequently took charge of the Directorate of Works and Buildings, and at the outbreak of the present war he was superintending engineer to the Ministry.

Colonel Mackie, whose death occurred on 18th October 1941, was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 1909 and was transferred to Membership in 1921.

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