The Massie Collection of Medals to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
Not since the disposal of the exceptionally fine medal collection compiled by the late Matt Taylor of Glasgow, has such an outstanding selection of Argyll decorations and medals, been offered to the public.
The collection offered here is the product of some 25 years of dedicated research and collecting to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders by Alexander S. Massie of Oshawa, Canada. Alec, as he was better known to his many friends at home and throughout the collecting fraternity, acquired his interest in military memorabilia through the death of an uncle, his father's brother and namesake, lost in France while serving with the Black Watch during the Great War. With the middle name of "Sutherland" it was not unexpected that Alec would concentrate his interests in the Argylls and the former 91st and 93rd (Sutherland) Highlanders.
Alec was born in Glasgow in 1937 and was raised in Edinburgh. In 1954 he emigrated to Canada; initially residing in Toronto and finally settling in Oshawa, Ontario. He was employed for many years as a systems analyst with General Motors.
In his earlier years of collecting, Alec had been an active member of O.M.R.S. and local militaria and gun clubs, his second love. At the Oshawa rifle and skeet club, a memorial trophy is presented annually in Alec's name to the outstanding marksman of the year. The mere collecting of Argyll medals was never enough to satisfy his curiosity. His quest for research and documentation of "his man's" background and service was Alec's burning desire -long before research became the fashion that it is today.
Alec would also go to great efforts to prepare the more interesting medal groups in his collection for display at local medal shows. His most memorable exhibit of course was his display of the Orders and Medals awarded to Major-General F.C. Scott, K.C.B., K.C.M.G. ("Scott of Coomassie"), who held many important appointments including command of the Ashanti Expedition of 1895, shown at a weekend Burlington meeting for which he received a well deserved "Best in the Show".
Unlike many in the hobby that tend to keep their findings and private sources to themselves, Alec was always ready to share his good fortunes with others. If he found new reference material, and knew that it could be useful to you, be assured that it would soon become part of your library. Alec was always there to help. Sharing of mutual interests was his common practice.
Another positive trait of Alec's was his willingness to help re-unite "broken groups", especially when holding a key piece. How many of us would consider parting with the Gordon Pipe-Major's medal for Dargai, to re-unite him with his South African medals held by another. Massie did. And with no gain intended.
I had known Alec for some 25 or 30 years; a friendship that had developed from correspondences over the miles, to one of near kinship. Alec Massie died in February, 1998, survived by his wife and two children. He will be sadly missed by his many friends in Ontario and his new family of friends in the U.S. It was our gain to have been considered among those friends.
A tribute, set in bronze at the family grave site; "A man's a man for a' that," by the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, best describes this gentle man.
RHC, New York