Hugh McKenzie (VC)
Hugh McDonald McKenzie
|Born||5 December 1885|
Liverpool, United Kingdom
|Died||30 October 1917 (aged 31)|
|Service/||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Years of service||1914–17|
|Unit||Canadian Machine Gun Corps|
|Battles/wars||First World War †|
|Awards|| Victoria Cross|
Distinguished Conduct Medal
Croix de Guerre (France)
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 Battle of Passchendaele in October 1917.
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. He emigrated to Canada in 1911, living with his wife, Marjorie, in North Bay, Ontario.
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. On enlistment, his attestation papers state that he had been previously employed as a teamster and that he had had previous military experience. 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.
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". 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.
When the award of his Victoria Cross was announced in the London Gazette on 12 February 1918, his surname was misspelled as "Mackenzie." He is also commemorated by a plaque at the Rosebank Primary School, in Dundee, Scotland, which he attended as a child.
- "Lieutenant Hugh MacDonald McKenzie". Canadian Great War Project. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
- "Hugh McKenzie". DHH – Victoria Cross bios. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- Peoples Journal, 16 February 1918: "'We'll Take It Boys' – Dundee V.C. Hero Rushes Hun Pill-Box"
- Kempling, James. "Lieutenant Hugh McKenzie". Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry 1914–1919. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
- "No. 30523". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 February 1918. p. 2003.
- "McKenzie, Hugh McDonald". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
- "Hugh McKenzie". The Scottish War Memorials Project. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
- "Location of other Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry VCs". Victoria Cross.org. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- 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: Passchendaele 1917 (Stephen Snelling, 1998)
- Liverpool VCs (James Murphy, Pen and Sword Books, 2008)