Murdoch Nish (Doch) MACKAY MID


MACKAY, Murdoch Nish

Service Numbers: Not yet discovered
Enlisted: 1 May 1915
Last Rank: Major
Last Unit: 22nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, 8 February 1891
Home Town: Bendigo, Greater Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: Gravel Hill State School, St Andrew's College and Corporate High School, Victoria, Australia
Occupation: Barrister
Died: Killed in Action, Pozieres, France, 5 August 1916, aged 25 years
Cemetery: Pozières British Cemetery
Plot III, Row E, Grave No. 7
Memorials: Bar of Victoria, Bendigo Great War Roll of Honor, Everton Public Hall Roll of Honor, Law Institute of Victoria, MCC Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918 - Melbourne Cricket Club
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World War 1 Service

1 May 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Captain, 22nd Infantry Battalion
10 May 1915: Involvement 22nd Infantry Battalion
10 May 1915: Embarked 22nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ulysses, Melbourne
23 Jul 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Major, 22nd Infantry Battalion
5 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Major, 22nd Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
5 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Major, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
11 Nov 1916: Honoured Mention in Dispatches

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François Berthout

Major Murdoch Nish Mackay
22nd Australian Infantry Battalion, D Company,
6th Brigade, 2nd Australian Division
In the green fields of the Somme, sway in red waves under the sun the poppies of remembrance which grow between the rows of thousands of white graves behind which live the names of a whole generation of exceptional men who still stand together united in camaraderie, in the eternal fraternity which brought them together on the battlefields of the great war and which guided them through the hurricanes of fire and steel, under the bullets and the shells and which, with pride, with honor and loyalty, in the prime of their young lives, did their duty with extreme courage in the name of the peace and freedom in which we live thanks to their acts of faith and their sacrifices and which, for our tomorrow, in the mud and blood, in the fury and chaos of a world at war, gave their today, their lives, their all then for them, with gratitude and respect, with love and care, I would give my life for theirs for their names to live forever, for them to be remembered and honored for what they were, exceptional men, for what they are and will always be for me, my heroes, my boys of the Somme.

Today, it is with the utmost respect and with the deepest gratitude that I would like to honor the memory of one of these young men, one of my boys of the Somme who gave his today for our tomorrow.I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Major Murdoch Nish Mackay who fought in the 22nd Australian Infantry Battalion, D Company, 6th Brigade, 2nd Australian Division, and who was killed in action 106 years ago, on August 4, 1916 at the age of 25 during the Battle of the Somme.

Murdoch Nish Mackay, elder son of George Mackay, editor and proprietor of the Bendigo Advertiser and husband of Mary Henderson Nish, was born in Bendigo on 8 February 1891. As a boy at the Gravel Hill State School he made excellent progress, and when 12 years of age had reached the sixth class, then the highest. When 13 he went to St Andrew's College and Corporate High School, where heacquitted himself exceedingly well. He passed matriculation at the close of 1905, when he was 14. He remained another year at St Andrew's College and Corporate High School, passing in further subjects and gaining the Waverley Prize.

Amazingly, he was just 16 when, in 1907, he began his law course at the Melbourne University as a resident of Ormond College. He succeeded in passing his first year in laws at the close of that year,obtaining first class honours in deductive logic, and winning the Hastie exhibition in that subject, and a major resident scholarship at Ormond. In 1908 he passed in second year laws, obtaining first class honours in philosophy, winning the Hastie exhibition, and a major resident scholarship at Ormond. In both years he had got to the top of the honour list in these subjects. In his third year,in 1909,he achieved the unusual distinction of winning double first class honours and carrying off both exhibitions. In the honour list for jurisprudence, constitutional law and Roman law, Major Mackay was the only student to gain first class honours, no one else coming nearer than third class. In the honour list for law of property in land, conveyancing, and law of contracts, he was one of two who gained first class honours, coming out at the head of the list. He thus won the Sir John Madden exhibition and the Jessie Leggatt scholarship, and retained his major resident scholarship at Ormond. In a letter to young Mackay after these examinations, one of the professors said:
"All your examiners were much impressed by the excellence of your papers,in some of them you reached quite an extra-ordinarily high standard."

At the close of 1910 he passed his fourth year in laws at the head of the list, thus becoming entitled to the degree of Bachelor of Laws. In March 1911, he went up for the final honour examination in fourth year laws, and again carried off first-class honours, winning the University scholarship and the Supreme Court judges' exhibition. This entitled him to the degree of Master of Laws, the highest honour now obtainable, in this course at the Melbourne University. He was just 20 years of age when he presented himself for this degree.

Murdoch was advised to go in for a career at the bar, and with that object he was articled in 1911 to Messrs. Cohen, Kirby and Woodward, of Melbourne. On 1st May 1912, he was admitted to practise as a barrister of the Supreme Court of Victoria and in July he began reading with Mr. H. W. Bryant, the well-known barrister at Selborne Chambers. At the beginning of 1913 he began practising by himself.Though his opportunities were few at first,his appearances in court evoked favourable comment, and as time went-on he became recognised as one of the most promising of the young barristers. Early in 1915 he appeared in his first High Court case.

When in Bendigo in 1911 he became connected with the Citizen Forces and rose to the rank of Lieutenant. After going to Melbourne to practise his profession, he was associated with the 60th (Brunswick-Carlton) Infantry.
By July 1914, he was beginning to find that his military duties were interfering with his legal work and applied to be placed on the retired list. After his retirement was gazetted, the war broke out and he applied for reinstatement. He was invited by Lieutenant-Colonel Elliott to join the first Expeditionary force and would have done so if there had been any difficulty in obtaining officers. He realised,however, that a call to service might come later-on and devoted all his spare time to military work. He attended the Instructional Camp in January 1915 and qualified for the rank of Captain.

In April, just after the Australians landed at Gallipoli, he was asked to go to the front as an officer in the 22nd Battalion of the 6th Infantry Brigade, and immediately decided to do so. He left Melbourne on 8 May as Captain of D Company, his commission dating from 1 May. Major Mackay was married on the 1 May, 1915,a week before he sailed,to Miss Margot Gordon Watson, second daughter of the late Mr. T. G. Watson, clerk of the State Parliament, and it is thus rather singular that three events of his life,his admission to the Bar, his gazettal as Captain, and his marriage should all have occurred on 1 May.

Murdoch, who is a grandson of the late Mr. Angus Mackay, formerly Minister of the Crown in Victoria, and the late Rev. Dr. Nish, of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, was named after his great grandfather, Mr. Murdoch Mackay, who fought with the 78th Highlanders against the French during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s. He was the first member of the family named after his great-grandfather, who reached man-hood's estate, and it is rather singular that he was the first member of the family since the days of his great grandfather to see active service.
In the field of athletics, Murdoch gave most attention to cricket and tennis. He played occasionally for the Bendigo United Cricket Club, his best seasons being 1910-11, when he scored 156 for five innings, and 1911-12, when he scored 319 for ten innings, and took nine wickets for 124.Playing for the Bendigo XV against the touring English Eleven in December 1911 he was top scorer with 37.
Murdoch arrived in Egypt in June 1915 and after a training period of just over two months, he left for Gallipoli at the end of August, and was in the trenches at Anzac at the beginning of September. In November he was promoted to the position of acting Major, and during the greater part of his stay at Anzac was second in command of his battalion. He fortunately escaped injury during his stay of four months and was never on the sick list. He therefore took part in the evacuation on 19th December, and early in the new year was in Egypt once more. During March 1916, his battalion was ordered to France, and Major Mackay was in command during the voyage. He arrived in France on 25 March and was in the trenches by the middle of April. His younger brother, Private G. E. Mackay (a second year medical student), who had been engaged at the 1st Australian General Hospital,
Heliopolis for eight months, was transferred to his brother's battalion in March, and travelled to France in the same transport with Major Mackay. Murdoch's appointment as Major was confirmed in April.
The last message received from Major Mackay was dated 21 July 1916, when he stated that he was well. He had been engaged in the severe fighting in France since his arrival and had been mentioned in despatches for gallant conduct leading D Company of 22nd Battalion on 28/29 July as part of an assault by the 6th Infantry Brigade on the enemy trenches north of the Pozieres Cemetery. Five days later he was killed, on the night of 4/5 August 1916, when he fell at the head of his Company leading an attack on Pozieres Ridge.

Today, Major Murdoch Nish Mackay rests in peace alongside his men, friends, comrades and brothers in arms at Pozieres British Cemetery, Ovillers-La-Boisselle, Somme, and his grave bears the following inscription: "Love and honour and the soul of man these do not die with death."

Murdoch, it was at the beginning of a life full of promise and hope that under the dark clouds of a world at war you answered the call of duty to do your part for your country alongside your comrades on the battlefields of the great war in the name of peace and freedom and with bravery, carrying high and proud the colors of Australia, you marched with determination behind the bagpipes and the lines of horses which carried their riders towards the trenches, towards days full of uncertainty but in your mind and your heart no doubt held you back and under your slouch hat, with pride, you led your men to do together what was right and with confidence they followed you because they saw in you an example to follow, an inspiration.They saw in you more than a brave officer, more than a comrade who was always there for them, to give them courage and hope, despite your young age they saw in you like a father who would always be there for them.Far from home, it was united in camaraderie and brotherhood that these young men joined the trenches, a world of brutality and death under constant artillery fire that turned peaceful, verdant fields into putrid quagmires on which were shed so much tears and blood and, in murderous attacks, too young, were caught in the barbed wire and were mowed down by deluges of bullets that enraged machine guns spat out at a relentless pace.In the mud, in the cold of winter, in the heat of the battles, they found in each other the strength and the courage to hold on to preserve the freedom of the world, they went through a hell on earth that robbed them of their innocence. and saw their brothers, their friends who fell one after the other in desperate but courageous assaults under walls of steel, charged heroically under tons of shells, they remained in tight lines bayonets forward without ever taking a single step back and fought to the end fiercely like lions without regard for their own lives on the battlefield but to protect their comrades who served alongside them with loyalty and dedication for their country on these sacred grounds of northern France , a country they knew little about but for which they did, gave and sacrificed so much through the ruined villages of Pozieres, Amiens and Villers-Bretonneux in which is remembered and honored with love and respect the memory and history of the Diggers who fought and fell for us, who were adopted by the French people as our sons and for whom I feel the deepest admiration and over whom I will always watch with gratitude so that they will never be forgotten, so that the spirit of ANZAC may live on forever, a spirit of courage, solidarity, gallantry, honor and sacrifice that was born on the blood red sands of the beaches of Gallipoli and who guided the Australians through the battlefields of Lone Pine, Ypres, Mouquet Farm, Le Hamel and who paid the supreme sacrifices so that we could live.They were young, they were brave and will never be forgotten, our country will never forget what Australia gave for us in the pain and suffering that its sons and daughters went through in the trenches, in the poppies that grow today today between the rows of their white graves which tell us the stories and the lives of these heroes who gave their all in this insane war but who after so much fury and horrors, finally found the silence and the peace of their final resting place. We don't know them all but we owe them so much to all of them and for them, I will always carry the flame of remembrance high and proud, I will always watch over them to maintain their memory and bring them back to life so that their names can live on forever. Thank you so much Murdoch,for everything. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember him,we will remember them.

I would like to very respectfully and very warmly thank "Virtual War Memorial Australia" and "The Bendigonian" for their invaluable help without which I would not have been able to write this tribute.