Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthNovember 13, 1893
Place of BirthStornoway
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMr.A.MacKenzie, 23 Upper Bayble, Stornoway
Trade / Callinglabourer
Service Details
Regimental Number439407
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion52nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentJune 7, 1915
Age at Enlistment21
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 17, 1917
Age at Death24
Buried AtEtaples Military Cemetery, France
PlotXXX. L. 22.

McKenzie, Donald

Donald MacKenzie was born on 13 November 1893 in Upper Bayble, Stornoway, County of Ross, Scotland. His father Alexander MacKenzie and mother Flora MacRae had married 22 January 1884 in Stornoway, Alexander’s occupation listed as fisherman. By the 1901 Scotland census household members were parents Alexander and Flora, and children Angus (16), Isabella (14), Roderick (12), Mary (10), Donald (8), Alexander (6), and Neil (2). For the 1911 Scotland census Alexander was working as a cottar-fisherman, Angus was listed as a fisherman, Isabella, Mary, and Alexander  were doing ‘fish work’, and Donald was listed as doing crofter’s work. A new member to the family, another child also named Roderick, age 9, was attending school along with Neil.

At some point after the 1911 census, Donald McKenzie (spelling of surname used in military service record) immigrated to Canada as on 7 June 1915 he signed his attestation papers in Port Arthur, Ontario. He had previously served with the 3rd Gordon Highlanders in Aberdeen. Just 21 years old, his occupation was given as labourer. With the 52nd Battalion, he embarked from St John, New Brunswick aboard the SS California on 23 November 1915. ‘The Battalion arrived at Plymouth, England  on 3 December 1915.  From Plymouth the Battalion moved directly to Witley Camp  for 6 weeks of training under British instructors. The Battalion joined the 9th Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division on February 23, 1916 and thus began the trial by fire for the men of the north in the trenches of France and Belgium.’

Once in France, on 19 September 1916 Private Donald McKenzie was promoted to Corporal, but by his own request, reverted to Private on 31 January 1917. On 5 September 1917, he was granted an 18 day leave to the UK. Just two short months later on 1 November 1917, he was admitted to the #18 General Hospital in Camiers with gunshot wounds to the chest. The 7 November 1917 edition of a Port Arthur newspaper listed Donald McKenzie as wounded, followed by another article on 23 November reporting his death.

According to the Canada, War Graves Registers, Private Donald McKenzie ‘Died of Wounds’ (Gunshot wound chest) on 17 November 1917  at the No. 18 General Hospital, Camiers. He is interred in the Etapes Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.  Notification was sent to his father at 23 Upper Bayble, Stornoway.

Donald MacKenzie is commemorated on page 284 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, and on the Lewis War Memorial in Stornoway.

Lewis Memorial photo courtesy of Chris McLean, Creative Commons Licence, names photo courtesy of Alex MacLennan, Scottish War Memorials

by Judy Stockham

Research notes:

A Donald J MacKenzie, age 19,  of Scotland was found on the passenger list of the Saturnia that arrived in Quebec on 03 Jun 1913. Occupation given as farm labourer, his destination was Keewatin, Ontario. However, the record states that he had previously lived in Canada for 5 years in 1907. The Kenora Miner and News listed the name of D J McKenzie of Kenora in two articles about the 52nd Battalion (16 Jun 1915, 08 Dec 1915), presumably the same man. In the one article the men were on their way to Port Arthur for training and the other was that they had arrived in England.

The birth record of the Donald in this tribute showed the surname spelled as MacKenzie which was used interchangeably  with McKenzie on various censuses. No middle name could be found on any of the documents and a researcher in Stornoway could not confirm a middle name or initial (J) for him. The researcher explained the prefix: ‘the prefix Mac is used by highlanders and islanders in Scotland. Ireland and lowland Scots use Mc.’ He stated that  Donald could have had a middle name that  would likely have been  John. It is very unlikely that he had previously lived in Canada.

Although no other possibilities could be found for a D J McKenzie (MacKenzie) that served with the 52nd Battalion, and that the Donald in this tribute was indeed the Donald that lived in Kenora, no proof could be found for 100% confirmation.

MacKenzie-Donald-1 MacKenzie-Donald-2 MacKenzie-Donald-4

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