Summary: World War I Chaplain Fighting MacKenzie, researched by Pastor Col Stringer
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)