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Keith Hope MACKAY

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Lieut 6212 21y4m 4 Jan 1916 23 Sep 1919 1

Lieutenant Keith Hope Mackay (1894 - 1979)


Family and early life

Keith Hope Mackay was born at Armidale, New South Wales in September 1894, the second son of John Mackay and Marion (née McLennon).  His father, Captain John Mackay was an explorer, sailor and harbourmaster, best known for founding the coastal city of Mackay in Queensland.  From 1892 to 1902 he was harbourmaster at Brisbane.  He died in 1914 at St Helen’s Hospital, South Brisbane.  A prominent memorial marking Captain Mackay’s grave also bears an inscription in memory of Keith’s older brother, Rainey Hugh Mackay at Balmoral Cemetery.

Enlistment and service

The Mackay brothers and their widowed mother were living at Wharf Street, Kangaroo Point when Keith enlisted on 4 January 1916 to serve in the Australian Infantry Force.  Private Keith Mackay was given service number 6212 and allotted to 15th Battalion, 20th Reinforcements. He attended a Corporals’ School from 8 to 13 June and was promoted to Sergeant before embarking from Brisbane on HMAT Clan MacGillivray for Plymouth, England, arriving on 2 November.

He marched in to the 4th Training Battalion Depot at Lark Hill and reverted to the rank of Private in December.  His unit proceeded overseas to France via Folkestone per SS Princess Clementine on 6 January 1917.  

Keith was appointed Lance Corporal on 16 March.  It was at this time that the Germans were retreating to the Hindenburg Line and the Allies were advancing through villages in a line from Arras in the north to Soissons in the south.  He was again promoted to Corporal in April and serving as Temporary Sergeant when he returned to England in July 1917 to join the Officers Cadet Battalion at Cambridge.

He became Second Lieutenant K. H. Mackay, 15th Battalion on 3 November 1917 and was promoted in the field of battle to the rank of Lieutenant on 14 April 1918.  In March and April 1918, the battalion helped stop the German spring offensive. Fighting took place near Hamel in July and the battalion participated in the great allied offensive of 1918, fighting near Amiens on 8 August.  This advance by British and empire troops was the greatest success in a single day on the Western Front, one that German General Erich Ludendorff called “der schwarze Tag1 - the black day of the German Army.  Lieutenant Mackay’s right hand was injured on 15 October 1918.

The guns fell silent on 11 November 1918.  Lieutenant Mackay remained in France till April 1919 when he crossed from Le Havre to Hurdcott for RTA2.  He waited till 19 June 1919 when the troopship Miltiades set sail from Plymouth to Sydney.  His appointment was terminated on 23 September 1919.

Post war - marriage, family and work

In 1923, Keith Mackay married Blanche Evelyn White, second daughter of Mr and Mrs C. F. White of a property called Molominda in the Stanthorpe district where they were well known. At the time of Mr White’s death in 1940, four of his children were settled on the land including Mrs Blanche Mackay at Mountain Park, Dalveen.

Keith Mackay’s wool clip was noted for its good quality.  In 1929 he obtained 22 pence per pound for “a super wether wool of useful quality, good length, sound, soft condition and free3” 

Dingoes were causing concern to sheep owners on the Granite Belt in 1938 and a successful drive was conducted on Mr Keith Mackay’s land.  In 1945, Keith Mackay was dealing with Polled Hereford heifers and herd bulls on his property at Mountain Park.

In the year 1949, Keith and Blanche Mackay were listed on the electoral roll of McPherson. Mrs Blanche Mackay died on 4 April 1958 aged 63 years.  Keith returned to the Darling Downs in 1968 and died in 1979 at the age of 85.

1. L. Carlyon P663
2  Return to Australia
3  The Brisbane Courier, 10 April 1929. P14

Select Bibliography
• Bean C. E.W., Anzac to Amiens, Penguin Books, Melbourne, 2014
• Carlyon L., The Great War, Macmillan, Sydney, 2006
• Nilsson J.A., ‘John Mackay (1839 – 1914)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, Melbourne University Press, 1974
• National Archives of Australia, military records and papers
The Brisbane Courier, 14 March 1914, 30 December 1922, 10 April 1929
The Queenslander, Brisbane, 4 July 1914
• National Library of Australia, portrait of Lieutenant Keith Mackay
• Commonwealth of Australia Electoral Rolls
• Queensland Register of Births, Deaths, Marriages on line
• First World War Embarkation Rolls
Queensland Country Life, 12 September 1940, 6 September 1945
The Courier-Mail, Brisbane, 26 January 1938

Compiled by Noel E. Adsett, Brisbane.  February 2015 ©



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