McKenize Headstone Lake Terrace Cemetery

MACKENZIE Alastair Norman

born: 23 August 1917 in Mount Gambier
died:  17 April 1946, Java, Netherland East Indies

Parents: Charles Norman MacKenzie and Ruby May Wheeler.
Sibling:  Ian Collin Kenneth.

Alastair spent his early years growing up in Mount Gambier.  His father, a Barrister was Mayor of Mount Gambier during 1919 but would move his young family and practice to Melbourne sometime after 1925. Alastair’s grandfather also Charles Norman Mackenzie was a well-known businessman in Mount Gambier.

Ian, Alastair’s older brother, a law clerk was killed when the plane he was co-piloting crashed into a paddock at Essendon Victoria in January 1937.  Ian was buried in the family plot in the Mount Gambier Lake Terrace Cemetery

Alastair was 22 years of age and a law clerk when he enlisted on the 27th of October 1939 in South Melbourne and was assigned to the 2/5 Battalion.  Alastair embarked Melbourne on 14 April 1940 and would see service in Palestine, Greece, Ceylon, and New Guinea.

In 1945 Alastair was assigned to the POW (Prisoner of War) Contact and Enquiry unit which saw him carrying out investigations in New Guinea, Manila, Singapore, and Batavia.  It was during his second visit to Batavia, that fate befell Alastair.  As part of the Australian War Crimes unit, Alastair and other members travelled to Glodok Goal to interview Japanese prisoners regarding the fate of 60 missing Australians on nearby Salak Mountain in 1942. On their return trip, the party travelling in two cars were ambushed by Indonesian rebels.  Although the driver of the first car was hit, he managed to speed away to seek assistance from a nearby Japanese post. Within ten minutes help had arrived but it was too late for Alastair who was found lying on the road, his companion Flight Lieutenant MacDonald slumped over the steering wheel. Their boots were missing, and their valuables and documents stolen. The other two officers were missing however Captain Murray Collins had fled into the scrub and although wounded had followed the road in the direction of the Japanese post.  The body of Squadron Leader Birchall was later produced by the republican troops.  Collins reported that the two officers were shot dead from within 5 feet as they boldly stood up in their car and shouted, “Australians, Australians! Don’t shoot.” 

Alastair is buried in the Jakarta War Cemetery, Jakarta Indonesia.  He is also remembered on the Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour as well as on the family headstone in the Mount Gambier Lake Terrace Cemetery together with his brother Ian, mother Ruby and Grandparents Charles and Mary.

National Archives of Australia: B883 VX74
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic : 1848 – 1957), Monday 1 February 1937, Page 9, Two men killed when plane crashes.
Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 -1954), Tuesday 23 April 1946, page 1
Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 -1954), Thursday 25 April 1946, page 16

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