Major (Q.M.) Robert McGuiness M.C. M.M. 1894-1971
Robert McGuiness, or “Bob”, as he was affectionately known by his legion of friends, was another old soldier of the Cameronians who rose through the non-commissioned ranks. He gained a commission as Quartermaster and went on to have a long and distinguished career as an Officer.
Born in Belfast on 31st March 1895, Bob first joined the Regiment as a Territorial soldier with the 6th Battalion in 1913. Following the outbreak of the First World War he went to France in March 1915.
Later while serving with the 9th Battalion Scottish Rifles, Corporal (L/Sjt) McGuiness was awarded the Military Medal in August 1918. After the armistice Bob was posted to the 2nd Battalion in 1919, and went to India. There the Battalion took part in the expedition into Iraq and Kurdistan, during which Serjeant McGuiness was awarded a bar to his Military Medal.
In 1932 Bob took over as Regimental Serjeant Major of the 2nd Battalion, a position he held for the next three years before being posted as Sergeant Major to the Regimental Depot in Hamilton. In November 1937 he was commissioned as Lieutenant and Quartermaster and sent to join the 1st Battalion serving in India.
Within a few years war had once again upset world peace and Bob found himself serving in Burma with the 1st Battalion. He excelled in his role as Quartermaster, an important position in peace time, but an essential one in times of war. He diligently carried out his duties, often under extremely trying circumstances. Volume II of the Regimental History refers to Bob greeting an exhausted group returning to base from a gruelling patrol, by issuing: ‘each man in passing with sandwiches and a bottle of beer’.
His dedicated and devoted service to his men was noted by his senior officers and he was awarded the Military Cross in October 1942, the citation for which is too lengthy to quote in full:
“At YENANGYAUNG oilfields on 19 April, 42, Lieut. R. McGuiness was in charge of B Echelon 1 Cameronians…About this time a Japanese attack developed from the south and the relieving troops withdrew in confusion through B Echelon. Lt/ McGuiness immediately took command of the situation, seized two Bren Guns from the stragglers, put British drivers on to them and took up immediate fire positions. From a nearby truck he got two M.M.Gs. which were manned by British Cooks and opened fire. He organised a Mortar Detachment which eventually succeed in silencing an enemy mortar. Regardless of enemy fire he moved from post to post organising and giving fire tasks. His prompt leadership and example halted the enemy advance and restored an ugly situation.”
Bob retired from the Army in 1946 and became Quartermaster of the Territorial Army and Auxiliary Forces Association in Lanarkshire. When he finally retired in the late 1950s, Bob moved to Northern Ireland to be close to his relatives. He died on 18th February 1971 with his daughter by his bedside.
“No one could have been more devoted to the Regiment than he, nor a more faithful supporter of all its activities.”