Captain Alastair William Matthew Brodie of Brodie was killed in action at Magersfontein. Captain Brodie's death is described in a letter from Sergeant P. Thomson, Seaforth Highlanders, to Mrs. Brodie:
'Royal Victoria Hospital
Wednesday 4th April 1900
Your kind letter to hand this day, Capt. Alastair Brodie was killed, I regret to say, at Magersfontein within yards of where we crossed the enemies wire fence, but as it was dark at the time I did not see him fall, but missed him a few seconds afterwards. He fell when advancing to the enemy's trenches, to find if it was possible for the regiment to advance, as the regiment was suffering from a terrible fire, and the men could do nothing to the enemy owing to the Black Watch being stopped by obstacles to their front.
Captain Brodie, who had been giving orders about deployment, came up and spoke to me, passed through the stragglers in front, and walked towards the enemy position. As soon as I was able to comprehend his object, I determined to follow, and collected as many of the stragglers of the Black Watch as would follow. The Captain was forcing his way through the wire fence when we over took him, as we could not all go through the same place I went to the right and got through, and reached the next wire fence, when I found the Captain was not with us - This was close up to the trenches, and at the foot of the hill where the enemy was posted, they had vacated their main trench.
I waited for Captain Brodie for some time, but as he did not come up, I reported to Captain Cowans (who came up as I waited for the Adjutant) that I could get into the trenches if it was possible to get more men up to support. Captain Cowans went back to get support but was unable to bring them up to our assistance owing to the heavy fire.
I retired the party about 100 yards from the trenches and got down, but we could go no further back, as we were all killed or wounded owing to daylight coming on and showing us to the enemy.
Such devotion to duty as Captain Brodie displayed in attempting to inspect the enemys' position in front of the enemys' rifles, was heroic, and would not have been justified under ordinary circumstances, but the regiment was in a trap and could make no headway to the enemy or retire, which the regiment did.
I followed the Captain, as I admired the cool courage which carried him forward with such devotion for the good of the remainder of the regiment. After the battle I made inquiries, and was informed that "an Officer in trews was within 50 yards of where I was lying" but as I was unable to lift my head, I was not able to ascertain if it was the Adjutant, but have no doubt it was. The enemy reported him as wounded through the arms but there must have been other wounds as well.
I knew Captain Brodie well, as I have a recollection of seeing him as a boy in '81 and I drilled him at Rawal Pindi when he joined the battalion, and would have followed him anywhere.
I reported all I have written above to Colonel Hughes-Hallet when I was brought in, and a few more details which would not interest you. I understood that the Colonel would bring his (Capt. Brodie's) gallant devotion to the notice of the General. Major MacKenzie I did not see after I left the battalion with your son, but Sergs. Catten and Bunch saw him later in the day.
Any further information you may require I will be pleased indeed to give you, if in my power.
I remain, Madam
P. Thomson, Sgt.
2nd Seaforth Highlanders'
A letter from a Royal Army Medical Corps Officer, published in the Nairnshire Telegraph, describes the scene in front of the Boer trenches:
'After we got the wounded away we began to lift the dead and put them into the ambulance - all Seaforths, 42nd, and one or two Argyll and Sutherland. The Captain and I went round all the Officers, some of them with no mark to distinguish them. Going along from one to the other, first their General, Wauchope, Colonel Goff and several Lieutenants and Captains who all fell there at the head of their men, and just about the last, right in front of the trenches, was Captain Brodie of the Seaforths. I knew him whenever I saw his face, no mark of blood about him, only his helmet off and lying on his back. He did not wear a kilt but putties and tartan breeches. Poor fellow, I was very sorry when I recognised him, and I did not feel too comfortable in such a position with the enemy likely to fire on us at any moment. Eventually things became so warm that we had to shift before we could get them all up.'
Brodie's biographical details are contained in The Last Post: 'He was the second son of the late Hugh Brodie, Esq., of Brodie Castle, Forres, N.B., and of Lady Eleanor, daughter of Henry, second Earl of Ducie, was born in April 1871 and educated at Winchester. Passing out with honours from the Royal Military College, he joined the Seaforth Highlanders in 1890, was promoted Lieutenant in 1892 and Captain 1898. He served in the Hazara Expedition in 1891, with the second battalion receiving the medal with clasp. He also saw service with the Chitral Relief Force under Sir Robert Low, in 1895, was present at the engagement at Mamagai and received the medal with clasp. He was specially employed in West Africa in 1897-98, in the Royal Niger Constabulary against the Slave Raider, Prince Arku, and distinguished himself in the attack on Kiffi, where his horse was shot under him, and in storming the town, he was reported as the first man to scale a wall eight feet high. In South Africa Captian Brodie was adjutant of his battalion and served with it up to the action in which he fell. He was killed close to the Boer trenches. His body was brought back to the Modder River and buried there.'