Service and Sacrifice: Vaughan’s Contribution to Two World Wars cont…

Commemorating those who served and sacrificed
In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War, the City of Vaughan Archives will be releasing an online exhibit in honour of the men and women from Vaughan who served and sacrificed in two of history’s greatest conflicts.

The exhibit will be unveiled on Remembrance Day.

Share your family’s proud story
If you have any family stories, photographs or documents from either of these wars, we want to hear from you!

Vaughan Archives is looking for material from Vaughan residents to showcase. This will not only help to enhance the exhibit, but it will also help tell Vaughan’s story.

Back in time: remembering and retelling
In anticipation of this exhibition, here is a sneak peek of some of our records from the First World War:

WWI Sgt. Donald Ross Mackenzie
Donald Ross Mackenzie (1887-1918) was born and raised in Woodbridge on a family farm located on Lot 5, Concession 7. He was the youngest of five children. His father was a farmer and merchant, and Mackenzie worked as a drover prior to pursuing a military career.

At 18, Mackenzie joined the Governor General’s Body Guard as a private, and in 1915 he enlisted in the Great War with the 127th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.

After arriving in England for duty, Mackenzie was assigned to the Second Battalion of the Canadian Railway Troops and was sent to France. His new battalion specialized in building light railway lines close to the battlefront, and assisted with moving troops and supplies throughout the front lines.

Little is known about Mackenzie’s war experiences other than his fate on the front at Villers-Bretonneu in Somme, France in 1918. While in a front-line trench, Mackenzie was severely wounded by shrapnel from an enemy shell and eventually succumbed to his injuries.

Mackenzie was honoured with a British War Medal, the Canadian Memorial Cross, and a Service Medal from the people of Woodbridge for his service and sacrifice.

Donald Ross Mackenzie in training before going overseas, 1916

Donald Ross Mackenzie in training before going overseas, 1916

Pre-war training
Donald Ross Mackenzie is pictured at a training base with what appears to be a Ross rifle before going overseas. The Canadian-made Ross was issued to Canadian military personnel between 1914 and 1915. While highly accurate, the firearm soon proved ill-suited for the conditions of trench warfare because of its length, excessive weight, low rate of fire and tendency to jam in muddy conditions. Throughout the war, it became common practice for Canadian troops to abandon the Ross in favour of the British Lee Enfield, and by 1916 the firearm was largely withdrawn from front-line service.

Sgt. Donald Ross Mackenzie

Sgt. Donald Ross Mackenzie

Sgt. Donald Ross Mackenzie
Donald Ross Mackenzie is photographed in full military dress, complete with a swagger stick, ca. 1916. Swagger sticks or “canes” were standard issue for Canadian officers and non-commissioned officers between 1860 and 1940. The sticks were carried as a symbol of authority and were largely discontinued as a standard military dress during the mid-20th century.

First World War soldiers pointing rifles and bayonets at Donald Ross Mackenzie

First World War soldiers pointing rifles and bayonets at Donald Ross Mackenzie

Soldiers of the 127th Battalion “horsing around”
Donald Ross Mackenzie (pictured front and centre) is “horsing around” with his fellow soldiers from the 127th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, ca. 1916.

First World War trench map from Mackenzie front

First World War trench map from Mackenzie front

Mackenzie trench map
This confidential First World War trench map ca. 1916 was sent by Donald Ross Mackenzie’s brother, Maj. Addison Alexander ‘Lex’ Mackenzie, to his family during the war.

The map shows enemy lines in Villers-Bretonneux, Somme, Picardy, France and the location where Donald was last seen. The back of the map reads, “Please keep this confidential as it is of military importance. X at S.P. eleven is where [Don] was last seen. This Line has all been retaken.”

Vaughan: committed to remembering
At the City of Vaughan, we remember the service and sacrifice made by many individuals and families, and are fortunate to be able to preserve some of these memories in our Vaughan Archives.

For more information about this upcoming exhibition or to contribute personal stories, records or documents, please contact the City of Vaughan Archives, City Clerk’s Office, at 905-832-8585 ext. 8793 or archives@vaughan.ca. The deadline for exhibit submissions is Oct. 31.

 

 

Visit the City of Vaughan’s website at www.vaughan.ca.

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