Alexander Frank Philip Christison, born at Edinburgh on 17 November 1893, was the elder son of five children of Sir Alexander Christison, Surgeon General, Indian Medical Service, and his second wife, Florence Elworthy Christison, of 40 Moray Place, Edinburgh.

His siblings were Frederick John, Dorothea Mary, Irene Victoria and Alison Florence Alexandra. Half siblings from his father's first marriage to Jemima Ann Brown Christison were Marion Augusta, Harriette, Edith and Robert Alexander.   

His grandfather was Alexander Christison, Professor of the Humanities at Edinburgh in 1806-20, and their uncle, Sir Robert Christison, an eminent Professor of Medicine also at Edinburgh and well known in philosophic and scientific circles.

He was educated at Edinburgh Academy and University College, Oxford where as a cadet, in the University's Officer Training Corps he was made Second Lieutenant in March 1914.

Commissioned into the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in 1914, he saw action in the battles of Loos, where he was awarded the Military Cross, the Somme and Arras. In July 1917 he was awarded a bar to his MC. The citation for this award reads:

His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to award a Bar to the Military Cross to the undermentioned Officers. Second Lieutenant (temporary Captain) Alexander Frank Philip Christison, MC, Cameron Highlanders. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He displayed the utmost courage and determination in pushing back the enemy and clearing the north side of the village. By his tireless energy he succeeded in getting the position consolidated under heavy fire.

His younger brother, Lieutenant Frederick John Christison, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, died on 4 December 1915, age 20, and is buried in Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery.

In 1919, he relinquished his last wartime appointment as second in command of the 6th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders in the rank of Acting Major and reverted to the rank of Captain, taking up the post of Adjutant of a Territorial Army unit in 1920.

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