Born in Edinburgh on the 15 June 1890, William Bruce was educated at Victoria College. He moved to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst to complete his officer's training before entering combat during the First World War. Serving with the 59th Scinde Rifles of the Indian Army, he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military award for valour.
He was 24 years old, and a lieutenant in the 59th Scinde Rifles, Indian Army.
His citation reads: "For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. On the 19th December 1914, near Givenchy, during a night attack, Lt Bruce was in command of a small party which captured one of the enemy's trenches. In spite of being severely wounded in the neck, he walked up and down the trench, encouraging his men to hold on against several counter-attacks for some hours until killed. The fire from rifles and bombs was very heavy all day, and it was due to the skilful disposition made, and the example and encouragement shown by Lt Bruce that his men were able to hold out until dusk, when the trench was finally captured by the enemy."
His VC was bought by Victoria College. The school named one of the original four school houses after him, the others being Sartorius, Braithwaite and Dunlop – all (with the exception of Braithwaite who was mentioned in dispatches) being old boys and recipients of the VC. Recently an additional house, Diarmid, was created to honour a previously unknown VC recipient. The relevant citations are recited each year on Remembrance Day.
- Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)
- Scotland's Forgotten Valour (Graham Ross, 1995)
- VCs of the First World War - 1914 (Gerald Gliddon, 1994)
- FindAGrave.com - Lieut William Arthur McRae Bruce Includes a photograph of a plaque which honours him.