The Croix de Guerre, a Military Medal & a Seaforth Highlander

 Highlander, Serjeant John MacKenzie MM was born on the 20th April 1896 in the of Muir of Ord, Ross-shire.   The youngest of 6 children to Donald & Isabella MacKenzie, he would tragically become the third son from this Scottish family to lay down his life in the Great War.   His two older brothers; Donald and Kenneth died in 1914 and 1915 respectively whilst serving with the Cameron Highlanders.

John volunteered for service early in the war and joined the 6th Seaforth Highlanders as a Private.   Arriving in France on the 1st May 1915, his outstanding qualities would result in  him being promoted through the ranks – before his ultimate death.   In November 1916, the Battalion  took part in the Battle of Beaumont Hamel; recapturing this town from the Germans – as one of the last acts in the Battle of the Somme.  According to the Inverness Courier published some time after John’s death; it was in this battle that his gallantry saw him promoted to Sergeant.  It would also result in him being awarded both the Military Medal and the Croix de Guerre – which was presented by the French Government for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.

IMAGE RIGHT:  The cap badge of the Seaforth Highlanders.

On the 9th April 1917, the Seaforth Highlanders provided support on the right flank of the main Canadian attack on Vimy Ridge.   This action resulted in the capture of a series of German trenches, east of Roclincourt with the loss of 148 officers and men killed or missing.  Here, John MacKenzie was Mentioned in Despatches for his gallantry.

However, before 1917 had drawn to an end, the Battalion was thrown into yet another major action – taking part in the Battle of Cambrai at Flesquieres and Bourlon Wood in November of that year.  The Battalion War Diaries show that the Seaforths were involved in fierce fighting between the 20th and the 24th November 1917;  with many officers being killed and more junior staff taking over and leading the attacks forward.  It is believed that  John may have been one of these junior leaders,  since he is certainly also recorded in the Diaries as receiving a Bar to his Military Medal – during this time.

The War Diaries show that the Battalion was fighting on the Beaumetz – Morchies Line in March 1918.  This was a particularly unsuccessful period for the Allied Armies, the Germans cutting deep into their lines.  On the 25th March 1918, the last day of heavy fighting – John MacKenzie was reported missing and later presumed to have been killed in action on that day.
IMAGE LEFT:  The photograph of John MacKENZIE which accompanied an article featured in the Inverness Courier.

Just after Armistice Day, the Inverness Courier newspaper printed a brief article – featuring John MacKenzie.  The words contained in the story may be rather flowery by modern standards,  but I think they give us some indication of the quality of this young man:–

“Popular in the regiment, familiar owing to his long service, the famous 51st Division had few more intrepid fighters that this fine, manly youth from the heart of the Highlands.  His comrades will not forget him today when peace lightens the field of battle.”

Sadly, all of his comrades have faded away.   With the passing of these men – has gone the memory of his deeds.  So it is now up to our generation,  to  ensure that heroes – such as John MacKenzie are never forgotten.   Please assist his ancestors, to keep the torch burning.   His medals are somewhere in the hands of a private collector and his family would dearly like them returned.  Kath MacDonald would certainly be very appreciative if you could help to recover these medals for her husband, who is the great nephew of Serjeant John MacKenzie.   Please contact the Medals Gone Missing Administrator if you have these medals, or know anything about their whereabouts.

IMAGE RIGHT:  The Military Medal plus WW1 trio (1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal – alongside the Croix de Guerre; similar to what was posthumously awarded to Serjeant John MacKENZIE.

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About gary

Gary Traynor is Administrator of the Militaria based website MEDALSGONEMISSING. The aim of this "NOT FOR PROFIT" website is to reunite families, with lost War Medals and other items of militaria which may have been awarded or issued to their ancestors. What Gary refers to as their "lost heritage". He has been actively involved in the preservation of Militaria and the researching of Military History for well over 29 years. During his travels, he has conducted numerous study trips to Gallipoli, The Western Front, Kokoda and many other major battle sites around the world. He was a member of the Australian Army Reserve (UNSWR & 4/3 RNSWR) and served for 23 years with the New South Wales Police Force. He was also priveleged to have served as a Volunteer Guide at the Australian War Memorial for a number of years. Gary now conducts tours of the Gallipoli Battlefields and the Kokoda Track in New Guinea. He leads the field in his knowledge of the beach head battlefields encompassing Buna, Gona & Sanananda. Medalsgonemissing is a website that will assist you in locating your family's lost war medals and other awards. If you have an ancestor who served in any of the British Commonwealth Armed Services at any time - and whose medals are lost/stolen or simply missing....then so long as the medals are out there - this site will help you to locate them. However the site also contains articles of interest in relation to Military History, War Memorials & Uniforms / kit. Please explore our website as there is sure to be something of interest to you.
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2 Responses to The Croix de Guerre, a Military Medal & a Seaforth Highlander

  1. W.R. LITZINGER says:

    I AM LOOKING FOR A CROIX DE GUERRE WITH 1914 – 1918 ON IT TO COMPLETE MY WIFES GRANDFATHERS DISPLAY CASE WHICH I AM IN THE PROCESS OF MAKING. DO YOU HAPPEN TO HAVE ONE AND IF SO ARE YOU WILLING TO SELL IT?

  2. gary says:

    Hello there. Please contact me on our email:- customerservice@medalsgonemissing.com and I will be able to assist you in acquiring your Croix De Guerre. Kind regards. Gary Traynor (Administrator)

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