William Gordon MACKAY

MACKAY, William Gordon

Service Number: 977
Enlisted: 17 January 1915
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 12 Garrison Battalion (VIC)
Born: Nhill, Victoria, 30 June 1893
Home Town: Violet Town, Strathbogie, Victoria
Schooling: Violet Town State School
Occupation: Building Contractor
Died: Taree, NSW, 1969, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Beresfield Crematorium, NSW
Cremated at Beresfield Crematorium, 2 October 1969
Memorials: Euroa Telegraph Park, Netherby Baker State School Roll of Honor, Violet Town Honour Roll, Violet Town Primary School Honour Roll, Violet Town St Dunstan's Honor Roll
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World War 1 Service

17 Jan 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1
21 Jun 1915: Involvement Private, SN 977, 8th Light Horse Regiment
21 Jun 1915: Embarked Private, SN 977, 8th Light Horse Regiment, HMAT Uganda, Melbourne
5 Jan 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Sergeant, 8th Light Horse Regiment

World War 2 Service

5 Jun 1941: Involvement Lieutenant, 12 Garrison Battalion (VIC)

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MACKAY William Gordon 977  LT
8th Light Horse Regiment

Finlay Charles Mackay (1857-1934) and his wife Rebecca (née McKinlay - 1862-1933) were, as their names suggest, of Scottish origin.  They settled on a farm at Warriquil near Nhill in Victoria and raised ten children. The eldest was David, born in 1886 and died when he was only 20 in 1906. The next four served in WW1.  They were Nurses Frances Lillian (1888) and Maud Mary (1890) and two brothers Albert Edgar (1892) and William Gordon (1893). Then came two more girls and three boys.

The family sold their farm at Nhill and bought a farm which they named ‘Lochiel’ on the Nalinga Road, running north from Violet Town.  All the children attended the Violet Town State School.

The first to enlist was William Gordon, on 17 January 1915 at the age of 22 years and six months.  After basic training in the 8th Light Horse Regiment he embarked on 21 June on HMAT Uganda bound for Egypt. There was further training for their action on Gallipoli, where the Light Horse Regiments were deployed without their horses owing to the rough terrain. It was during the Battle of The Nek that Gordon received a gunshot wound to his right arm.  He was invalided to Alexandria, then on to No 1 AGH at Heliopolis until early December when he was deemed fit enough to return to duty.

During the movement of troops to the Desert Zone and Western Front after the evacuation of Gallipoli, Gordon attended an NCOs school at Zeitoun which he passed with flying colours. The following report bears this out:

Remarks at the end of the school.
Ability and professional knowledge – Good
Power to maintain discipline – Good
Power of Leadership – Good
Knowledge of capacity, tact for training – Good
Suitable for Staff employment – Yes
Fitness for promotion – No
Knowledge of foreign languages – Nil
Physical fitness – Very Good

On 5 January 1916 after the school he was promoted to Sergeant.

His Regiment served at Romani, Madaba, Rafa, Gaza, Beersheba, Jerusalem, Jordan Valley and Syria. After a spell in hospital suffering from rheumatism and inflamed joints Gordon was well enough to attend another course at Zeitoun, this time at an Officer’s Training School of Instruction. With a favourable report which stated that he was a ‘very efficient troop leader especially in the field’ he was promoted to Lieutenant.  

Another wound, this time in the left leg, saw him hospitalised again.  

For his gallantry in the field he was mentioned in General Murray’s despatches on 18 March 1917. 

On 7 July 1917 he returned to Australia aboard HMAT Malta and was discharged a month later.

On returning to civilian life he returned to his parent’s farm at Lochiel, Nalinga Road, Violet Town until he married Marion Isobel Alston.  Together they raised three children, Judith, Charles and Beth and lived on a farm at Cobram.

In 1939 Gordon and Marion separated. In June  1941 he re-enlisted for service in WW2, listing his ex-wife Marion as his next of kin. Gordon was serving as a LT with the 12th Garrison Field Regiment when he was discharged in 1944. He met and married Dorothy about 1956 and lived on a small property at Lorne via Wootton on the north coast of NSW. His death in 1969 was registered at Taree.

He was cremated at Beresfield Crematorium on 2 October 1969.

Medals: Mentioned in Despatches   1914-15 Star   British War Medal   Victory Star.

Honour Rolls:  Honour Board Memorial Hall, Violet Town.
                          Honour Roll Violet Town State School.
                          St Dunstan’s Anglican Church.

Tree No 29 was planted in 1917 by Mr Mackay.

In 2013 a Ceratonia siliqua - Carob Tree - was planted by Diana Sommer, Beth and Trudy Stott.

© 2016 Sheila Burnell