Harry Henry Tawse MacKay
Service number 1695

Private Harry MacKay was 45 years old when he survived a severe gunshot wound to the thigh while serving with the 47th Battalion in France.

A timbergetter, Harry had enlisted on December 3, 1915 and was wounded in action almost a year later, on December 1, 1916.

Although Harry had been born in Brisbane, his attestation papers state that he had previously served one year with the Irish Volunteers. Formed in 1913, the Irish Volunteers had split at the outbreak of war, with one group, the National Volunteers, opting to fight in the Great War while the other, which remained in Ireland, formed what would become the Irish Republican Army.

Harry was unmarried and had named his sister, Mrs Maggie Fennick, of Milton as his next of kin when he embarked for overseas service on the SS Hawkes Bay from Sydney on April 20, 1916, with the 2nd reinforcements of the 47th Battalion.

The battalion, comprising mostly men from Queensland and Tasmania, had been formed in Egypt in 1916 and was a mix of Gallipoli veterans and new recruits, like Harry, from Australia.

Harry went first to Egypt and then on June 6 left Alexandria on the Franconia bound for England. He arrived at Plymouth 10 days later and continued to train before heading to France, and the trenches of the Western Front, on September 22.

Harry finally joined his unit on October 2 but two months later suffered the gunshot wound to the right thigh that put him out of the war.

AIF troops at the railway station at Weymouth.

(Image: Australian War Memorial; Public Domain.)

“Had previously served with the Irish Volunteers.”

A gunshot wound to the thigh put him out of the war.

He was taken to the 36th casualty clearing station which, in December 1916, was operating at Heilly, 19 kilometres north-east of Amiens.

From there, Harry was taken to the 5th General Hospital at Rouen and then transferred to Havre where he was taken on board the Wandilla to be evacuated to England.

Harry was admitted to the 2nd Southern General Hospital, Bristol, on December 7 and remained there until February 16 when he was transferred to the 2nd Auxiliary Hospital at Dartford. Ten days later, he was sent to the depot at Weymouth, which accommodated soldiers whose recovery was expected to be prolonged.

On April 6, Harry was marked for return to Australia and he left England the following month on the HT Themistocles from Devonport.

He arrived in Sydney on July 4, 1917 and, although his service record indicates he was being returned to Australia for a ‘change’, was discharged from the Army as wounded in Brisbane on August 25.

HMAT Themistocles.

(Image: Public Domain.)

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