Hugh McKenzie (VC)

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Hugh McKenzie

Hugh McKenzie VC.jpg
Hugh McKenzie during the First World War.
Birth nameHugh McDonald McKenzie
Born5 December 1885
Liverpool, United Kingdom
Died30 October 1917(1917-10-30) (aged 31)
Passchendaele salient, Belgium
No known grave, memorialized on the Menin Gate
AllegianceFlag of Canada (1868–1921).svg Dominion of Canada
Service/branchCanadian Militia
Years of service1914–17
RankBritish Army (1902-1920) OF-1b.svg Lieutenant
UnitPrincess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
Canadian Machine Gun Corps
  • 7th Brigade Machine Gun Company
Battles/warsFirst World War
AwardsVictoria Cross (UK) ribbon.png Victoria Cross
Ribbon - Distinguished Conduct Medal.png Distinguished Conduct Medal
Ruban de la Croix de guerre 1914-1918.png Croix de Guerre
Spouse(s)Marjorie McKenzie
Other workTeamster

Hugh McDonald McKenzie VC DCM (5 December 1885 – 30 October 1917) was a Canadian soldier who served during World War I. McKenzie was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. McKenzie received the award posthumously for his actions during an attack that took place during the Second Battle of Passchendaele in October 1917.

Early life[edit]

McKenzie was born in Liverpool, in the United Kingdom, on 5 December 1885. Shortly after his birth the family moved to Inverness, in Scotland. After his father died, the family moved to Dundee and McKenzie later found work with the Caledonian Railway Company.[1] He emigrated to Canada in 1911,[2][3] living with his wife, Marjorie, in North Bay, Ontario.[4]

Military service[edit]

In August 1914, shortly after the outbreak of the First World War, McKenzie volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary Force and enlisted in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.[2] On enlistment, his attestation papers state that he had been previously employed as a teamster and that he had had previous military experience.[1] Serving initially as a private, McKenzie was promoted steadily through the ranks, reaching sergeant in September 1916 and becoming a company sergeant-major in early 1917. As a corporal, in early 1916, he had received the Distinguished Conduct Medal for actions while in command of a machine-gun section. In January 1917, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and was transferred to the Canadian Machine Gun Corps, attached to the 7th Brigade Machine Gun Company.[4][2]

He was 31 years old, and a lieutenant when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC:

On 30 October 1917 at the Meetscheele Spur, near Passchendaele, Belgium, Lieutenant McKenzie was "in charge of a section of four machine guns accompanying the infantry in an attack. Seeing that all the officers and most of the NCOs of an infantry company had become casualties and that the men were hesitating before a nest of enemy machine-guns, he handed over his command to an NCO, rallied the infantry, organised an attack and captured the strong-point".[5] As machine-gun fire from a pill-box nearby inflicted further casualties on the advancing Canadians, McKenzie conducted a brief reconnaissance of the position and after placing down troops in fire support positions, he led a frontal attack on the position. The pill-box was subsequently captured but McKenzie was killed in the effort.[5]

Hugh McKenzie also received the French Croix de Guerre for his actions. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate war memorial in Ypres, Belgium.[6]

When the award of his Victoria Cross was announced in the London Gazette on 12 February 1918, his surname was misspelled as "Mackenzie."[5] He is also commemorated by a plaque at the Rosebank Primary School, in Dundee, Scotland, which he attended as a child.[7]

Centenary memorial at Our Lady and St Nicholas church, Liverpool, unveiled 30 October 2017

The medal[edit]

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Museum of the Regiments in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Lieutenant Hugh MacDonald McKenzie". Canadian Great War Project. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Hugh McKenzie". DHH – Victoria Cross bios. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  3. ^ Peoples Journal, 16 February 1918: "'We'll Take It Boys' – Dundee V.C. Hero Rushes Hun Pill-Box"
  4. ^ a b Kempling, James. "Lieutenant Hugh McKenzie". Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry 1914–1919. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b c "No. 30523". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 February 1918. p. 2003.
  6. ^ "McKenzie, Hugh McDonald". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Hugh McKenzie". The Scottish War Memorials Project. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Location of other Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry VCs". Victoria Retrieved 16 January 2013.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]