Duncan McCallum

Sir Duncan McCallum (24 November 1888 – 10 May 1958) was a Scottish Unionist Party politician. He was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Argyllshire at a 1940 by-election. McCallum remained as MP for the seat (renamed Argyll in 1950) until his death in 1958.

McCallum was born on 24 November 1888 in Fulham, London, son of Charles Whitton McCallum (the British music entertainer known as Charles Coborn). McCallum was educated at Filey School, and Christ's Hospital. He won a Military Cross and was Mentioned in Despatches in the First World War during which his service took him to the Cameroons and to France. The years that followed the end of hostilities were scarcely less adventurous for him, for between 1920 and 1924 he was British liaison officer with the French in Syria and took part in a pioneering journey across the Syrian Desert in 1923. A party consisting of Mr. Palmer, Consul in Damascus, Mahommed Ibn Bassam, a gold trader, and McCallum drove from Syria to Baghdad in three cars, a Buick, an Oldsmobile, and a Lancia. This was the first official reconnaissance of the trans-desert route.

He undertook an even more ambitious journey in 1927. His regiment, The East Yorkshire, was quartered in Tientsin, and he was Commandant of the British Legation Guard at Peking. He conceived the idea of motoring from Peking to London and was granted leave and permission for that purpose.

The expedition, which included his wife, left in two Buick cars in June 1927. They motored to Tientsin and then went by sea to Hai Phong in Indochina, civil war making an overland journey from north to south China impracticable. From Haiphong they went north to the Chinese frontier and then, turning south again, followed the line of the Mandarin Road of ancient days, the highway from China to Siam, through the rice-fields of Tongkin down the coast of Annam, across the great plain of Cochin-China to Saigon; thence to Angkor and the Siamese frontier.

The party entrained at Bangkok, entered Malaya through Kedah, running south to Singapore, there taking ship to Rangoon and thence by sea to Calcutta, after spending a week trying to find an overland route into Burma. After reaching Calcutta they drove across India by way of Lahore, Peshawar, and Quetta, across the Balochistan desert, through north-eastern Persia to Meshed; thence to Teheran, Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut. London they reached in May 1928, after a journey of 15,200 miles of actual driving with only one serious mishap but no shortage of "near misses" in the matter of hazards. The journey from Constantinople lay through Bulgaria at the time of the earthquakes and the party arrived from Adrianople at the village of Papazali the day after it had been laid in ruins. The journey was recounted by McCallum in China to Chelsea (1930).

Subsequently, he served as an honorary attaché at British Legations in Bulgaria and Egypt, Middle East in 1939-40 and Conservative member of Parliament for Argyll from 1940. He was known as a successful breeder of pedigree Highland cattle and had been a member of the Highlands and Islands Advisory Panel since 1947. He received a knighthood in 1955.

He married in 1925 Violet Mary, daughter of J. L. A. Hope and widow of Captain E. A. Hume. McCallum died on Saturday, 10 May 1958, in a Glasgow nursing home. He was 69.[1]


  1. The Times, 12 May 1958
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Frederick Alexander Macquisten
Member of Parliament for Argyll
new constituency.
Previously Argyllshire
New constituency
previously Argyllshire
Member of Parliament for Argyll
Succeeded by
Michael Noble
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.