Major John (Black Jack) MacAllan, the Ninth Laird of Kinch, an estate in the Western Highlands, was one of the legendary characters of the Great War. A company commander in the Black Watch, he was famous for spending most of his time in the forward trenches, inspiring his men with a joke, a song, a Woodbine or a well-placed kick in the arse as required. Armed with his beloved Stephen Grant side by side best gun, MacAllan often led trench raids despite orders from battalion and brigade not to put himself at risk. He liked, as he said, to teach his junior officers, or "sprogs", by example and not by sitting in some blasted dugout giving orders.
In the winter of 1917, MacAllan was acting battalion commander and was expected to be promoted to brigade staff, but chose to go to the fighting trenches one night when reports of German tunnelling were coming in from the listening posts. Convinced that the Germans were close to exploding a mine, he ordered two companies back to safety, while he remained to lead a small countermine party. The mine detonated, some say after a brief hand to hand struggle under ground, and MacAllan was never seen again, but his premonition saved the Black Watch from annihilation and prevented a breakthrough in their sector. MacAllan was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, and left behind a widow and one young son, Graham, to carry on the name.
Major John MacAllan as he was last seen, the night of his death in 1917.
As mentioned previously here, young Graham grew up and followed his father's footsteps into the army and into the Black Watch. At St. Valery in 1940, he managed to lead his company through German lines to the last RN destroyer waiting to evacuate troops of the doomed Highland Division. Graham casually mentioned in debrief that his dad had shown him the way through the German lines. That might have finished his career as a psychological casualty, but fortunately Project Alice was looking for men and women with supernatural inclinations and aptitudes. Now, the troops of S Commando are used to their Mad Major who talks to spooks. On several raids they have seen their boss stop and converse with thin air, and then go on to lead them to the objective or to the evac point without a scratch. True to his principles, John MacAllan is still leading his young sprogs from the front, a ghostly but effective ra extset of eyes and ears for his son the Mad Major.
This figure is from the Great War Miniatures British personalities set, and was painted up as part of an entry for the Analogue Hobbies painting challenge, whose mastermind, Curt, suggested that I paint him in grayscale as a proper ghost. That would have been a terrific idea had I thought of it in time, though I'm not sure I can justice to Curt's technique. I rather like the idea that he would appear as being perfectly natural and lifelike to his son's Celtic second sight, and invisible to others (an idea borrowed from that classic comic, The Haunted Tank).
If I ever get this project off the ground, I expect any force where Maj. MacAllan is present will get one or two chances to play the "Ghost Dad" card, allowing it a free spot or some other bonus against the German force.