The Man The ANZACS Revered
Salvation Army Officer and First World War (WWI) Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) army chaplain, William “Fighting Mac” McKenzie was the man the ANZAC’s revered. Unknown today, but a legend amongst his contemporaries during and after the war, “Fighting Mac” never lost his appeal from both ANZAC officers and enlisted men, always drawing large crowds to listen to “Fighting Mac” speak and conduct concerts of both secular and Christian music. “Mac” kept them laughing with his great sense of humour.
In Egypt “Fighting Mac” initially gained the respect of the Aussie men he served through doing everything that the enlisted men did during their training, including carrying heavy packs whilst on long marches. “Mac” was always there beside his men, ready to carry someones pack or rifle if need be, to relieve a weary soldier. Afterwards, back at camp, “Mac” would be busy organising uplifting entertainment for the troops. “Mac” was not impressed with the sordid ‘Red Light’ district in the town nearby, and would ‘rescue’ wayward men from the clutches of disease ridden harlots. “Mac” said to the men, “Remember your wives, girlfriends, mothers and sisters and don’t go near these places.” The men respected “Mac” and gave the brothels a wide berth. Good thing too, seeing that VD (venereal disease) had no effective cure at that time and it might be said the ‘cure’ was often worse than the disease. In response, the ANZACs started a riot and burned down the brothels, chopping the firemen’s hoses, so the brothels would burn to the ground.
Gallipoli, 25th April, 1915, was a day of reckoning for Australia. “Fighting Mac” wanted to disembark with the men, as they stormed the beach at ANZAC Cove, but he was ordered by his superior to stay with the ship and be of assistance when the wounded started arriving. Not long, and ‘Mac’ was busy alright, up to his elbows in blood as he did what he could for his men. A couple of days after ANZAC Day, Mac was allowed to land at Gallipoli. “Mac” straight way made a bee-line to the front line armed with the Holy Bible and a shovel in hand, which remained his standard battle equipment during the rest of the war, both in Gallipoli and France.
“Fighting Mac” was no wilting violet and came ‘over the top’ with the best of them. He gave aid to the wounded and buried the dead where they fell. He didn’t have regard for his own safety as he gave the fallen Diggers a Christian burial. After the battle of Lone Pine, ‘Mac’ found four fallen Diggers on their knees. Each realised he had been mortally wounded and had struggled to their knees to pray to their God. (p.115) This was a moving testimony to “Mac”. These young men were from a deep Christian culture both Roman Catholic and Protestant. All the Diggers appreciated “Fighting Mac’s” sermons, his main purpose being the conversion to Christ of the young men as “Fighting Mac” encouraged them to give their lives to Christ, the only hope of glory, which up to three thousand did at “Mac’s” meetings.
“Fighting Mac” came to appreciate the moral value of his Diggers. They may have liked a beer and a smoke, enjoyed a game of Two-up and let out a few choice words now and then, but when it came to the crunch they were loyal, displaying honesty, integrity, unselfishness, courage and sacrifice with utter disregard for denominational distinctions. “Mac” was always amazed at the majority of Roman Catholics who favoured him at compulsory church parades on Sundays as ‘their’ chaplain over the RC Chaplain in the same battalion.
In France “Mac” wrote home to ask if the women folk could write to the lonely Diggers in the trenches. The response was overwhelming! “Mac” would pass on the letters to the Diggers as well as writing letters to next of kin of fallen Diggers. But “Fighting Mac’s” main job was burying the dead. Again armed with the Holy Bible and a shovel he ventured alone into ‘no-man’s land’ to accomplish this grim task. “Fighting Mac” on more than a half-dozen occasions in one week alone, experienced the astonishing act of an angel warning him to move swiftly 25 yards away from where he was standing to some other place left, right or ahead, only to witness a shell landing where he had been standing a moment before. He believed that was his guardian angel. (p.156)
At one stage, driven mad by the awful carnage, he stood up on a little raised mound and sang at the top of his voice a song he wrote (Sunshine Song) and that was popular with the Diggers. He was hoping to end it all, but God had other plans for “Fighting Mac”.
During a rest in London “Mac” was called by the king to receive the Military Cross. The king said he had heard a lot about “Fighting Mac” and wished him and his family well.
“Mac” and his fellow chaplains, believed that after the war was over and all were back in Australia, a revival amongst the people was needed to overcome the negative effects of the war. This hoped for revival never came. The bitterness of the war lingered in the minds of the people and the clergy, which had drained away the spiritual life-blood of the nation. Even “Mac” harboured vengeful thoughts for the Germans, wishing that many of their cities and villages be destroyed and laid waste and up to a million Germans be killed. (p.160)
In post-war Germany, the Germans were starving from the effects of the unjust Treaty of Versailles. Hitler rose to power as a result and WWII became a reality in 1939 as part two of the same horrid war. Unfinished business!
Now we live on the precipice of World War Three. Syria may be the location in which this war starts as Turkey issues warnings to Russia not to invade her airspace. In any event, we now have Cold War II!
We are not the nation of faith we once were. The nation hasn’t had that longed hoped for spiritual revival. God miraculously led us to triumph in the First and Second World Wars. (This triumphant history has been suppressed by the secularists.) Immediately after WWII, we dropped our bundle and have been working to implement the stated goals of Hitler, to establish a New World Order. Unbelievable!!! See www.britishfortress.com .
“Fighting Mac” would be sad to see the state of affairs today as we embrace unbelief and all manner of moral perversions. It’s just as well he is no longer with us.
This Armistice Day, as I attend the service, I will be prayerfully contemplating upon all that has transpired. I will be thanking God for the lives, sacrifice and Christian witness of the Diggers as they courageously fought to defend the freedom we enjoy and are so foolishly casting aside, in this Great South Land Of The Holy Spirit – Australia.
Here’s the book: The Man The Anzacs Revered by Daniel Reynaud. Published in 2015 by Signs Publishing.