b. 06/07/1871 Contin, Ross-shire, Scotland. d. 17/05/1915 Festubert, France.
John Henry MacKenzie (1871-1915) was born on 6th July 1871 in Contin, Grampian, Scotland. He enlisted with the Seaforth Highlanders at the Depot, Fort George, Inverness-shire. On 8th December 1887, he was posted to the 1st Battalion, then stationed at Edinburgh Castle. He was promoted to Corporal in 1891, but on joining the 2nd Battalion, he gave up his stripe and returned to being a Private. He then took part in the Relief of Chitral in the spring of 1895 (Medal and clasp).
He returned to the rank of Corporal in May 1897, and was awarded the DSM. In November that year, he was posted to the Lagos Regiment, on the West Coast of Africa. He was promoted to Sergeant in March 1899. During his service in West Africa he took part in three distinct campaigns. In each of them he was mentioned in despatches. He was badly wounded at the Relief of Kumasi and in the Ashanti Campaign, during which he was awarded the Victoria Cross (London Gazette, 15th January 1901).
On 6th June 1900 at Dompoassi, Ashanti (now Ghana), Sergeant Mackenzie, after working two Maxim guns under heavy fire and being wounded while doing so, volunteered to clear the stockade of the enemy. This he did, most gallantly, leading the charge himself and driving the enemy headlong into the bush.
He was presented with his medal at St James Palace on 12th April 1901 by King Edward VII. John Mackenzie was then commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the Black Watch in 1900 and became a captain in the Royal Scots on 22 January 1904. During this time, he also served on attachment with the Northern Nigeria Regiment. He was mentioned in despatches for his work during the Aro Expedition; also in 1906 when he was staff officer of the Munster Field Force and once more during the Kano-Sokoto Expedition. He was promoted to Major during World War I and was commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment, where at Festubert in the Battle of Loos, on 17th May 1915, when leading his men, he was killed just after he had left the jumping off trench.
MacKenzie was buried in the Guards Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, Ciunchy, France. His medals are held by the Queen’s Own Highlanders Museum, Fort George, Inverness-shire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: QUEENS OWN HIGHLANDERS, FORT GEORGE, INVERNESS-SHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: GUARDS CEMETERY, WINDY CORNER, CIUNCHY, FRANCE.
PLOT VIII, ROW J, GRAVE 10
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map.
Thomas Stewart – Images of the Mackenzie VC Medal Group at the Queens Own Highlanders Museum, and the Garve War Memorial.