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Rainey Hugh MACKAY

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Gunner 33755 25y10m 6 Nov 1916 24 Dec 1918 1

Gunner Rainey Hugh Mackay (1890 - 1964) 


Family background and early life

Rainey Hugh Mackay was born in Brisbane on 31 December 1890, elder son of Captain John Mackay (explorer, sailor and harbourmaster) and Marion (née McLennan).

Hugh worked as a clerk at the Bank of Queensland in Brisbane.  When Hugh’s father died in 1914, his funeral at Balmoral Cemetery was conducted by Rev. Dr Merrington.  A few weeks later Rev Dr Merrington officiated at the marriage in Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Brisbane of Hugh’s elder sister, Annie to Lieutenant Frank Armstrong Hugh Mackay, then aged 23 years, attended both these ceremonies.

Enlistment and service

He enlisted to serve in the Australian Infantry Force on 6 November 1916.  He named his widowed mother at Wharf Street, Kangaroo Point as next-of-kin.  Gunner Mackay with regimental number 33755 was allotted to the Field Artillery Brigade.

His unit embarked from Sydney aboard HMAT A74 Marathon on 19 May 1917 and arrived at Devonport, England on 20 July.  After training exercises at Larkhill on the Salisbury Plain in Southern England, Hugh’s unit proceeded from Southampton to Rouelles, France in September.

Military discipline was strict, even cruel.  While in France in March 1918, he committed (in military terms) a crime – “ill using an animal used in the Public Service”.  He was awarded 7 days “Field Punishment No. 2” which meant the convicted man had to be shackled in irons for up to two hours in twenty-four, and not more than three days in four.

Gunner Mackay was transferred to 11th Field Artillery Brigade on 8 April 1918 and posted to the 43rd Battalion.  He was wounded in action on 24 April, shrapnel causing injury to his left shoulder.  When he was admitted to Kings Heath Section of Birmingham Hospital on 28 April the wounds were described as “severe”.  He was transferred to the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital at Dartford on 19 June and was granted furlough from 9 July to 23 July when he reported to No. 2 Command Depot at Weymouth.  He remained at Weymouth till he returned to Australia per D22 Arawa, disembarking at Melbourne on 17 November 1918.  He travelled overland to Brisbane where he was discharged from the AIF on Christmas Eve, 1918.  He was discharged as medically unfit with GSW2 left shoulder with fractured scapular.

In recognition of his war service at the Western Front, Gunner Hugh Mackay was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Post war

Hugh married Ida Anna Moore in Brisbane on 17 June 1920.  She had been an army nurse though they met only after the war. Their eldest child John died in infancy and their two daughters were Margaret3 and Christina.

The war had a huge impact on the family who had settled in Toowoomba as Hugh was forced to retire from a managerial position in the National Bank because of his injuries.  The Mackay family took up farming at Pimpama and then dairying at Kilcoy.  His last farming property was Balnafoy, a 60 hectare block in the Salisbury area in Brisbane, named after a leasehold property at Loch Ness which the Mackay family ran before immigrating to Australia.


Towards the end of his life, Hugh’s health failed rapidly while he was involved in court cases over his efforts to sell parts of Balnafoy to leave a legacy for his children.  His death occurred on 22 July 1964.  He was buried at Balmoral Cemetery at the prominent memorial honouring his father who had died 50 years before him.

1  Gunshot wound
2. Margaret Ida Mackay BEM (British Empire Medal)

Select Bibliography
• National Archives of Australia, military records
The Brisbane Courier, 14 March 1914, page 5
• Nilsson, J. A., Mackay, John (1839 – 1914), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, MUP, 1974
The Queenslander, 4 July 1914, page 15
• Australian War Memorial, Embarkation Rolls
The Courier-Mail, 2 February 2012
• Brisbane City Council, cemetery records
• National Library of Australia, Canberra
• State Library of Queensland

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



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