This article was originally published as:
Reynaud, D. (2016). Lest we forget: Fighting Mac, the army and contemporary Australia. The Australasian Journal of Salvation Army History, 1(2), 43-52.
One of the jewels in the crown of The Salvation Army in Australia is the life and ministry of Commissioner William McKenzie. Once almost universally known across the country as ‘Fighting Mac,’ McKenzie’s work at Corps, Divisional and Territorial level had a huge impact, and yet was dwarfed by the extraordinary legacy of his three and a half years in the AIF. It was during these years that McKenzie reached many tens of thousands of Australians serving overseas, as well as civilians at home in Australia, touching their lives in ways that they would never forget, and forging a platform from which he was able to advance the cause of Christ through the agency of The Salvation Army for twenty years after World War One.
Adding to his actual achievements, his reputation was subjected to mythological inflation, both during his lifetime and afterwards. Sadly, despite the incredible work that he accomplished, since his death, his profile has simultaneously diminished to the point where one of the most recognisable figures of inter-war Australia is now almost completely forgotten – most tragically by a good number of Salvationists. But McKenzie’s story is at its most powerful when it is both fully and accurately remembered.
At a time when The Salvation Army has taken perhaps the most significant hit to its public reputation, McKenzie still holds the potential to act as a positive bridge to Australian society through his connection to Australia’s national unifying myth – the story of Anzac. The history of William McKenzie offers a wake-up call for the Army of the 21st Century.
Reynaud, Daniel, "Lest We Forget: Fighting Mac, the Army and Contemporary Australia" (2016). Arts Papers and Journal Articles. 52.