Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJune 23, 1893
Place of BirthBrandon, Manitoba
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinFather: William Mackenzie, Box 17, Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingBank Clerk
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number148384
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion78th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentSt Regis Hotel, 202, Kenmore Apartments, Winnipeg, MB
Date of EnlistmentJune 7, 1915
Age at Enlistment22
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 24, 1918
Age at Death25
Buried AtHillside British Cemetery, Moreuil, France
PlotII. A. 9.

MacKenzie, Harry Stuart

Harry Stuart MacKenzie was one of three sons and two daughters of William and Lizzie Mackenzie, of Kenora, Ontario.  His parents were born  in Scotland and emigrated separately to Canada in the 1880s, meeting and marrying in Brandon, Manitoba in 1889 where William worked as a dry goods store clerk.

Harry, born in 1893, was the youngest of three boys in the family which also included William Jr. (1889), Stormont Green (1891) and younger sisters Odette Henrietta (1894) and Honore Millicent (1898) who was born after the family moved to Kenora in the 1890s and William Sr. opened his own store there.

Harry and his older brothers, William and Stormont (Monty) Green MacKenzie were educated in Kenora schools and active members of the local sports scene, playing on church and community hockey teams and in their late teens and early 20s as members of the pre-war Kenora Thistles. They were members of the Kenora Athletic Club and accomplished oarsmen with the Kenora Rowing Club.

After finishing school Harry worked as a clerk with the Ottawa Bank in Kenora, and joined the local militia unit — the 98th Regiment.

Harry and his brother Monty both enlisted in the spring of 1915 as Kenora’s militia unit had been authorized to enlist 110 volunteers for overseas duty for the Manitoba Military District as part of Canada’s Third Contingent for overseas duty. Harry enlisted June 7, 1915, along with his good friend  Harold Hilliard. Monty MacKenzie, and Harolds’ brother  Charles were also good friend, with  Charles enlisting  in December 1914 when the initial call went out.

After training in Kenora  and Port Arthur with troops that would form Northwestern Ontario’s 52nd Battalion, Harry and Monty transferred to the 78th battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers). Monty had served two years with their militia unit, the 100th Regiment, while training to be an accountant in Winnipeg. Both would later be commissioned as Lieutenants with the 78th.

Harry joined the 78th as a Private, and was approved for a commission as an officer effective Nov. 1, 1915 receiving his commission with the 78th on Dec. 1, 1915. In January 1916 he was transferred to the newly created 101st overseas battalion and trained with them at Camp Sewell. He shipped to England with the battalion on June 29, 1916 aboard the SS Olympic while Monty remained with the 78th Battalion.

In England, Harry was rotated through several re-enforcement training units until being assigned to the field in France in the spring of 1917. Arriving in France on April 24, 1917, he joined the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) in the field on April 30, as part of the reinforcements sent to replace battle losses from the Vimy Ridge campaign.

Lt MacKenzie served in the front line with the battalion until being wounded Aug. 18, 1917 during the final days of the Battle for Hill 70, part of the Canadian Corps attempt to re-take the city of Lens from the Germans. Lt. Harry MacKenzie was one of 252 casualties the battalion suffered during the two weeks of fighting including 37 killed in action and 9 missing. Overall, the Canadians lost 1,505 men killed in action among 5,800 in total casualties. Suffering from a gun shot wound to the left leg, Lt. MacKenzie was evacuated to England on Aug. 20 for treatment.

After treatment in hospital he was released Sept. 13 and returned to the Manitoba Training Depot and reassigned to the 11th reserve battalion in October.

His medical file notes he was not deemed fit for general service and spent the winter recuperating in England with the Training Depot. His return to France was further delayed with recurring bouts of tonsillitis. He’d suffered several attacks while in France the previous year, including one that had required a week’s stay in field hospital. In April of 1918 Lt. MacKenzie underwent a tonsillectomy to finally resolve the problem. The operation was successful and he returned to the Manitoba Training Depot in May.  By the summer of 1918 the medical board finally deemed him fit for active duty.

In August of 1918 he returned to France, this time with his original unit, the 78th battalion. Joining them in the field on Aug. 19, he would serve less than a week before being killed in an aerial bombing raid Aug. 24, 1918 while the battalion was moving from one location to another.

From the CEF burial register for Lt. Harry MacKenzie: ‘Killed in Action’ While with the Battalion marching from Caix Wood to Gentelles Wood, on the night of August 24th 1918, he was instantly killed when in the vicinity of Beaufort Wood, by a bomb dropped from hostile aircraft.

From the War Diary for the 78th Battalion:

19 August 1918, in Reserve, ‘Training continued. Physical training, Lewis Gun training. 35 ORs taken on strength. Lt. H. McKenzie and Lt. Harris taken on strength.’

24 August 1918, ‘Morning spent in cleaning of equipment, inspection – Battalion moved to Gentelles Wood. Bombing raid on way – Major F.S. Hesson & Lt. H.S. McKenzie killed also 20 OR’s, wounded – 23 OR’s.’

Lt. Harry Stuart MacKenzie is buried at the Hillside British Cemetery, northeast of Moreuil, France, Plot 2, Row A, Grave 9.  He is commemorated on page 460 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the Kenora Cenotaph, the Kenora Legion War Memorial, the Kenora Keewatin High Schools plaque, and the St Alban’s Pro Cathedral plaque.

by Bob Stewart

photographs of Harry: courtesy of the Lake of the Woods Museum and Fred Betton
St Alban’s Pro Cathedral plaque: courtesy of the church

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