David McLaren Bain (Festubert 62)

9 mars 2018

David McLaren Bain (died on 3 June 1915, Aged 24) was a Scotland rugby union player. He was killed in France in World War I, while serving with the Gordon Highlanders.

He played for Oxford University RFC and was capped for Scotland in 1911-14. Bain had captained Scotland against Wales in 1914.

Captain David McLaren Bain, 3rd Battalion Gordon Highlanders, attached 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders, was killed in action near Festubert on June 3, 1915, aged 23. Born at Edinburgh on September 10, 1891, Bain was educated at Edinburgh Academy Preparatory School from 1897-1900, at Edinburgh Academy from 1900-10, and at Trinity College, Oxford, from 1910-14. He was a forward in the Academy 1st XV from 1907-10, and Captain of the XV in the season of 1909-10. He was in the XI in 1909-10, and Vice-Captain of it in 1910. He was in the Fives team in 1909-10 and Captain of it in 1910, and in the Shooting VIII in the same two years. Bain played for Oxford against Cambridge in 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, was Secretary of the Oxford University Rugby Union Club in 1912-13, and Captain in 1913-14.

He played for Trinity at Rugby football, cricket, and golf. Bain had the rare honour of being chosen reserve for Scotland against England at Inverleith in 1910, while still at Edinburgh Academy. A few boys, notably the Neilsons of Merchiston and J. G. Milton of Bedford, have played in International football while still at school, and K. G. Macleod also would have achieved this rare feat if the Fettes authorities had given their permission.

In March 1911 Bain made the first of eleven appearances for Scotland in the Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham. He played in every match for Scotland of the two years 1912 and 1913 against England, Wales, and France ; against the South Africans in 1912 ; against Ireland in 1913 and 1914 ; and against Wales in 1914. Bain captained the Scots against Wales in 1914, and only those who wanted somebody else to captain the side said he did not do it well. Then he was deposed, and Eric Milroy captained Scotland in the next match ; that, too, like the Calcutta Cup one, was lost. The fact was Scotland had not at the time a better team than either the Irish or English ones ; no captain could have won either of these games. But a trifle like that does not trouble those who had prophesied a Scottish victory. They have to hang somebody, so, after the Irish 2 tries to nil at Dublin in 1914 ; they hung Bain, and said it would never have happened had Freddy Turner been in command. When with Milroy in command Bain not playing, Scotland again lost, they said it was the referee ! Such things have to pass for fair and "expert" criticism. Bain was, in fact, a jolly good captain, both by example and precept. In some respects he was better than Turner, who spoke hardly enough, though more when in charge of a Club than an International side. Bain was one of those forwards one saw not very much of in the loose, which is generally a good sign, tending to mean that if he is any good at all he is very good. He was certainly a sure tackler good at the line-out, and with an excellent knowledge of the game. Off the Rugby field at Oxford, he was a member of Vincents in 1910, and President of it in 1913-14. On going up he was chosen Senior Commoner of his year. He was also a member of the Claret Club and Triflers of Trinity College. When war came he was about to go in for the examination for the Egyptian Civil Service.

He died on 3 June 1915, age 24, and is buried in Brown’s Road Military Cemetery, Festubert. He played against France in 1913 with Eric Milroy, Scotland won 21-3.