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Herbert Gabriel McKenzie (MM)

Herbert Gabriel McKenzie (MM)


Serial No:
Serial No. 4744

20th Battalion


Herbert Gabriel McKenzie (MM) - Information

Herbert Gabriel McKenzie is listed in The Campbelltown Herald as a local serviceman. He was born in Granville c1894, and when the war began, was living at 220 Victoria Rd in Marrickville with his wife, Ethelda and their daughter Elsie. Herbert supported his family working as a labourer. At the age of 22, he enlisted in the AIF in Casula on the 8th of January 1916. He was posted as a Private to the 12th Reinforcements, 20th Battalion at the beginning of February. Herbert then left for war service from Sydney on the 13th of April 1916 on the HMAT Ceramic.

Herbert arrived in England and began further training at Rollestone, before proceeding to France on the 9th of September 1916. Herbert then joined his unit. Soon the I ANZAC Corps were on their way back to operations in the Somme Sector from a reprieve in Flanders. During these attacks, Herbert was wounded in action on the 12th of November 1916 with a gun shot wound to his right arm and forearm. On the 18th, Herbert was evacuated to England and admitted to the 1st London General Hospital. He recovered from his wounds and was marched out from Perham Downs to No. 1 Command Depot in April 1917. He returned to the 20th Battalion on the Western Front in early May. At the time, the 20th Battalion had chased the Germans, following their retreat, and were hitting them on the Hindenburg Line at Bullecourt. Herbert and his unit then fought during the Third Battle of Ypres at Menin Road and Poelcappelle. As the campaign came to a close, the men, after months of fighting in heavy rain and mud were exhausted. Fighting in such deplorable conditions impacted their morale well into 1918. While they were resting behind the lines, the Germans broke through on the Allied front causing a general retreat. The Australian Corps were rushed forward to halt the advance. At the beginning of April, Herbert was serving as a Company Runner during attacks at Bois De Hasgard. On the 7th of April, he was carrying messages to various positions, risking his life under a heavy barrage. Then after delivering the despatches, he began carrying ammunition to the men in the lines. For his heroic actions, he was recommended for the Military Medal. After this trying ordeal, Herbert fell ill and was admitted to hospital in Rouen in early May. On the 1st of August, he rejoined his unit, and unfortunately after he returned, was trapped in a gas attack. However, he did not report to hospital, wanting to stay with his mates. He continued to fight with them until the war ended. On the 30th of August, Herbert was awarded the Military Medal, by His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales.

Herbert remained with the 20th Battalion, until he was granted leave in England in February 1919. While enjoying some time off, he reported to a medical officer. Herbert was very short of breath, wheezy and consistently coughing. His legs were also swollen, and his heart was beating irregularly. These symptoms were a direct result of the gas attack. His health continued to deteriorate and doctors believed he would not improve. He was invalided home to Australia on the 1st of April and was subsequently admitted to Parramatta Hospital. Herbert greatly welcomed a visit by his wife and daughter. At the time, Ethelda was living at 61 Marion St in Enmore with Elsie. Herbert’s health rapidly declined. His heart was heavily dilated and his lungs very congested. Unfortunately, Herbert died from these complications at Parramatta Hospital on the 14th of January 1920. He was buried at Rookwood Cemetery, Rookwood in Sydney. Herbert’s name was later recorded on a plaque at Dredge’s Cottage on Queen St in Campbelltown.