William "Fighting Mac" McKenzie, WWI Chaplain Hero and Salvation Army Commander
Heroes from WWI, William “Fighting Mac” McKenzie (12/1869-26/7/1947)
Pstor Col Stringer reveiled the Australian Heros to us by his research, today I share it with you. Who are your personal heroes? Who do you look up to/want to be like?
Why did Aussies want to go to WWI?
It was an honour to serve in the military, an adventure, chance to make a stand.
Initial recruits were called “Dinkum Aussies”
Later recruits were called “Fair Dinkums”
These soldiers were full of zest for life, adventure & fun!
Americanisms-‘cool man, dude & guys’-were never used by ANZACs
Aussie-‘strewth, crikey, mate, cobber’ – were often used by ANZACs
Chaplains with the ANZAC Spirit
• W J Dunbar
• William Dexter
• Spencer Maxted
• Oswald Chambers
• William ‘Fighting Mac’ McKenzie
Born in December 1869 in Biggar, Lanarkshire Scotland
Family was deeply religious, but
Mac was adventurous, fought often & good student
At 12 mac left school to work on his fathers’ farm, but
Adventurous spirit drove him to new life in Australia
Fought on ship with Irish migrants, where the ships’ Captain intervened
At 15 Mac worked on Cattle station, was an accomplished horseman & developed love for Australian Bush
Worked at Bundaberg sugar plantation, where used 50 Kanakas & 20 Chinese labourers-all under Macs’ supervision. These labourers worked better under this 17 y.o. than previous supervisors-leadership qualities already apparent
Mac was regular at pubs & other Bundaberg drinking holes-drinking, fighting & rough life
Pub crawl led to Salvation Army meeting/service, childhood reality of God rekindled, missed past family times-somewhat like Mel Gibson returning to his childhood faith in recent years!
2 well-known Scotsmen, hard-drinkers, fighters & swearers gave testimony how God changed their lives for the better-which impressed Mac
Macs’ youngest sister died, disturbing him, restless sleep for a long time
One morning 4am God spoke audibly, “Go to Bundaberg & join Salvation Army!”
This same voice Mac heard in both Gallipoli & France, spoke 4 consecutive mornings
Mac finally rode 16 miles into Bundaberg, repented & returned home.
Mac studied the Bible, but his fervour & unorthodox ways won over many, conducting services with his younger brother.
Carried books, clothes & other gear walking to meetings throughout Victoria
Transferred to Queensland, successful in Toowoomba, Charters Towers, Townsville & Ipswich. Met Anne in Toowoomba, married in June 1909
Taught chivalry to sons-a real family man! Travelled with family preaching around Australia.
Returning home from Salvation Army Convention in England, heard WWI declared on ship
25/9/1914 volunteered for military service, 1st Salvation Army chaplain in 1 AIF at 44
Given 24 hours notice of departure, enjoyed family time, told them at 21:00-who did same?
Went to Sydney & then shipped out to Gallipoli, not everyone returned home as we know!
Everyone needed to “prove their metal”, Mac was no exception!
Fighting Mac had spiritual insight & bush sense, undefeated boxer onboard for tour duration.
Mac removed “Billijims” out of the brothels physically, reminded these youths how their mothers & sisters may disapprove of their ideas-remember undefeated boxer-incentive to comply! Mac burnt Cairo brothels in Battle of Hazzir.
Mac never forgot his family, wrote & instructed members regularly
Gallipoli & Dardenelles seemed an adventure of a lifetime, but 2 out of 3 were dead, wounded, sick or captured as POW
Mac was recommended for VC, but both officers died before submitting recommendation
Mac charged enemy with shovel, chaplains were not allowed to bear arms, proved himself
Mac said, “Boys, I have lived with you, I’ve preached to you & I’ve prayed with you. Do you think I’m now afraid to die with you? Where my boys go. I go!”
Said of Mac that he “…served both his Lord & his ‘boys’ with every ounce of courage & strength he possessed.” & that “Men realised as never before that the most manly thing to do is to worship & glorify God”, especially in troubled times such as these.
After battles Mac would stay behind & collect ID Tags & pay books from the dead to write & inform their families of the bravery & sacrifice made, often loosing sleep to finish these.
Mac loved his boys as a father, big-hearted & always cheerful.
Mac said, “I know why you follow so close behind me boys! It was because I had your pay packets in my pocket!”
Said of Mac that “He made religion live & lived it himself, never ramming it down tired men’s throats”
Mac started the “Letters to Lonely Soldiers” by asking newspapers to have readers write in.
Overwhelmed by 1st request, averaged 1000 letters per week, to soldiers by readers in support
Mac was awarded Military Cross by King George & promoted to LCOL by Salvation Army GEN Booth
Gallipoli cost 250 000 (dead, wounded & missing)
1916 Mac shipped to France with 4th Battalion, served in Pozieres, Bullecourt, Polygon, Wood, Passchedaele & “The Somme” (gateway to hell)
330 000 Aussies served, 215 000 killed, wounded, POW
(65% killed, 1 in 5 killed. In relation to today’s population 1000 000)
Mac’s guardian angel saved him at least 6 times (told move, wait, retreat, advance, stop…ect)
Mud, walked on duckboards, 2 soldiers sank, retrieved by Mac, dead on rescue due to exhaustion, cold, sickness & malnutrition
War took its toll on Mac personally-PTSD, sleep disorders…etc,
Returned to Australia, battle-hardened cried at the executive decision.
Awarded Salvation Army highest honour, Order of the Founder, by GEN Booth
Departed with brass bands, flags, cheers & tears from hardened officers & soldiers
Shook hands with everyone present at formal parade
Welcomed home at Melbourne’s Exhibition Building, 7000 packed inside (1500 RSL)
Tent erected for interviews, diggers travelled 100’s miles to thank Mac,
Women with tears, often gripping letters that Mac wrote to them, waited in line & thank the one who’d buried/shown kindness to their son, father, husband.
1927 Mac appointed to Command the Salvation Army in China
Arrived during famine, war, shootings civil war & death were rife
Human flesh publicly sold as food on Yellow River
Mac held up by bandits-responded, passport guaranteed safe passage by president
1930 returned to Australia during the Depression
Called for courage & tenacity, using ANZAC analogy, stating,
“We must put our backs to the burden. Think not of what you can get, but what you can give to help Australia..." ”Typical of selfless attitude of ANZAC’s, not of today’s “you owe me”
Mac died on 26/7/1947, with family present
Funeral held at Congress Hall, Salvation Army Commissioner James Hay conducted service
Donald McKenzie (Son) tribute
“…my hero, a knight in shining armour, who had taught his children the highest ideals, particularly chivalry. He walked & talked with Jesus, & Jesus was his master, he combined humility, purity, goodness & gentleness of a saint. It is a very great honour to be his son &, a great responsibility. He set a standard which is extremely hard to maintain…”
Brigadier McIlveen tribute
“I leaned over him & kissed his forehead & said, ‘Fighting Mac’, I am kissing you for a multitude of men, who would love to do it, for all that you did for them.”
Funeral procession brought city to standstill
Commissioner Hay, Band, SA Officers, returned soldiers marched 6 abreast down Wentworth Ave, mounted police escorted the ‘long cortege’ to Rookwood
Flag draped coffin with the warriors service cap & Bible on it
Standing room only at cemetery, 21 gun salute
Sun sank into western sky as 2 khaki –clad soldiers sounded Last Post & Reveille
We too will stand for Last Post, 3 minutes silence & Reveille in honour of all ANZAC’s, whom paid the price, many the ultimate price, for the freedom we now too often take for granted! LEST WE FORGET!
From a sermon by Peter McInnes, Hero For Jesus, 6/4/2010
Related Sermon Illustrations
Contributed by Jeff Leigh on Jul 23, 2005
One day out of the blue an old friend of mine ( I will call him Keith) phoned me to say he was in town and wanted to catch up. We hadn’t seen each other for over 15 years - I wasn’t a Christian when we were friends. Him and I were hell raisers, we were into anything and everything not good. Anyway ...read more
Contributed by Jack Valentino on May 24, 2005
In 1968 I worked with a nurse at Bethesda Naval Hospital who told me one day after I had just lost it with a co-worker. “You know you are only as big as the things you let bother you” Although I wasn’t in the mood to hear it at that time, it did impact me. However she didn’t respond much better ...read more