Topic: Henry Gill McKenzie

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Henry Gill McKenzie (service number 6/1915) was a First World War soldier with links to Upper Riccarton

Henry Gill McKenzie was born on 19th July 1895 at Blackball, Westland, New Zealand. He was the sixth child of Ellen Eliza Andrews and Murdoch McKenzie. They were married in 1881 in New Zealand. Henry had six siblings; Frances Minnie (born 1883), Alexander Duncan (1884), Louisa Jessie (1888), James Donald (1890), Elizabeth Ann (1893), and twins Lewis Norman and Frank Kenneth (1897). Murdoch McKenzie died in the Grey River hospital on 31st August 1915. His widow Ellen moved to Christchurch and remarried in 1918 to Michael Webber Latham.


Henry volunteered for the war effort on 13 January 1915. At that time he was working as a grocer's assistant for Wardell Brothers of Christchurch. He was living at Church Corner in Upper Riccarton. He was a member of the Territorials so would have already had some millitary training. His medical examination records him as being 5 feet 6 3/4 inches tall and weighing 128 pounds. He had a fresh complexion, brown eyes, black hair and a scar on the back of his right forearm.


Henry was posted to the Canterbury Infantry Battalion as a private with the service number 6/1915. He left New Zealand on 17th February 1915 heading for Turkey but he was admitted to hospital in Malta with deafness in one ear before he got there. Next stop was Egypt where he suffered sunstroke and problems with his vision. During his time serving in the Dardanelles he got concussion from a shell burst. Henry was evacuated back to hospital in Egypt and then to England. He continued to suffer headaches, sweating, palpatations and tremors. The doctor thought he might have scarlet fever. He was admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley, in Hampshire for treatment and then to Hornchurch Hospital to convalesce and finally to Codford Camp for retraining before being sent back to the field.


Henry was transferred to the New Zealand Medical Corps and by June 1917 he was on the battlefield in France. Bad luck seemed to follow Henry as he was injured with a severe gunshot wound to the leg. He needed an operation to remove bone fragments. His leg was slow to heal and an abcess developed. He was in hospital in France and was eventually shipped back to England and admitted to King's College Hospital on Denmark Hill in London and was then readmitted to Hornchurch Hospital. On 14 March 1918 he was classified unfit for further army service. Two weeks later on 1st April 1918 Henry boarded the ship Athenic at Glasgow, Scotland for the journey back to New Zealand. The Athenic docked in Auckland and Henry was admitted to Auckland Hospital. Then he was sent to Quarantine Island in Otago Harbour. His final admittance was to Christchurch Hospital where he passed away on 10th October 1918.


Henry Gill McKenzie was given a military service with a gun salute. His body was carried to Linwood cemetery by gun carriage and to the grave site by Returned Serviceman pall bearers. Sadly the toll on his body caused by the war was too much and he never recovered his health.


Brothers James Donald McKenzie (6/688), Frank Kenneth McKenzie (64964) and Lewis Norman McKenzie (65591) also volunteered for the war effort. James served in Gallipoli with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion, Frank served in France with the Otago Regiment but Lewis had a recurrance of a childhood knee injury during training so he didn't serve overseas.


Henry Gill McKenzie was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He is remembered on the Roll of Honour at the Upper Riccarton Memorial Library.

Related resources

References

 

  • PERSONALS.,Sun, Volume V, Issue 1455, 11 October 1918, page 1
  • PERSONALS., Sun, Volume V, Issue 1457, 14 October 1918, page 2
  • Palace of pain: Netley, the hospital built for an empire of soldiers


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