Today sees the start of this year’s Poppy Scotland campaign. To mark this occasion we will be sharing a series of blog posts relating to Dundee men who fought during the First World War. Linda Nicoll, one of our volunteers, will be giving a talk about Hugh MacKenzie VC to the Friends of Dundee City Archives on Thursday 2nd November at 1pm at the Glasite Hall by St Andrews Church. The talk, like all of the Lunchtime Lectures, is free and anyone is welcome to attend. Find out more about the FDCA Lunchtime Lectures.
Although not born in Dundee, Hugh spent much of his childhood and youth in the city. He was educated at Rosebank Public School and worked as a carter with the Caledonian Railway Company. In 1911, he emigrated to Canada where, at the outbreak of war, he enlisted in the Princess Patricia Light Infantry. By Christmas 1914, he was fighting at the front.
His military career went from strength to strength. He rapidly gained promotion and the respect of his men. In 1916, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery in the field and this was followed by the Distinguished Conduct Medal. In 1917, he transferred to the 7th Coy. Machine Gun Corps. On 30th October, 1917 he was killed at Passchendaele. The events leading up to his death earned him the highest honour – the Victoria Cross.
Throughout the war years he never lost contact with his family and friends in Dundee, returning whenever he could. His letters home were read to the pupils at Rosebank and his two medals were displayed in the school. His young daughter also attended Rosebank and unveiled a memorial plaque in his memory.