Tuesday, March 8, 2011

H is for cousin Harry, a hero

I remember my mother's uncle, my Great-Uncle Henry. He was a doctor, and I was very proud of the fact that he delivered me. Probably, when I was small, I thought it was one of the more important things Uncle Henry had done. I never knew, because nobody ever told me, that Uncle Henry was the father of a hero.
For some reason, no one ever talked about Mother's cousin Harry, who "died in the war" as we used to say of anyone who perished in World War II. Mom had a cousin, Jack, on her mother's side, who had "died in the war" and we knew about him. However, although we had met most of Mother's cousins from her father's side, and knew many of them, no one, not even Mom, ever told us about Harry.
H.H. MacKenzie Jr. was a Canadian pilot who was shot down over France in 1944. I believe it was grief that kept the family from talking about him to the younger generation. I don't think they ever really forgot about him. And I know there are people in France who never forgot him at all.
There are wonderful people in France who are still looking for the wreckage of Canadian planes they know were shot down in WW II. They had friends or relatives who saw the planes go down, so they knew the approximate area, and so they keep looking.
A couple of years ago, some of the wreckage from Harry MacKenzie's plane was found by a group of these intrepid searchers. They cleaned up the parts, traced the plane through the serial number on the engine, found out who had flown it, and then got in touch with my MacKenzie relatives in British Columbia.
On June 26 this year, the mayor of the French town of Sacy-le-Grand is going to name a street "Rue MacKenzie" after Cousin Harry. All of my mother's surviving MacKenzie cousins have been invited. Some of them are going to France to attend the ceremony, which will include representation from the Canadian Embassy and the French Air Force. Mom's cousin Ian told me about it, and asked if I would like to attend as well. I would like that, very much, and I will try to go. The cousin I never heard about has become my hero. He is buried in Beauvais, France, north of Paris. He was 24.

Posted for the letter H in ABC Wednesday,
Mrs. Nesbitt's alphabetical meme hosted each week
by her talented team.

To see what others made of the letter H this week, please click HERE!


chubskulit said...

Great choice for letter H. Thanks to those who serve.

Have a peek on my letter H, see you.

Dianne said...

the photos are all treasures
I salute Harry
he is a hero
I hope you do get to make the trip, sounds like it will be an amazing experience

Dina said...

Just a boy, so young and handsome. What a shame to lose him.
But very nice that people in France still search for parts of the planes, something that the family can then see and touch.
Wonderful about the recognition that will be given to Harry.

Carver said...

This was a very moving post. Great tribute.

VioletSky said...

What a lovely story. It is a shame that these men who died so young and so far away in such horrific circumstances were not spoken of by those left behind, though I can understand (sortof, never having experienced anything close to it myself).

Ms. Burrito said...

My Daddy just retired from the Navy and I am proud of him as well as the others who serve in the military!

Hygiene, hearty treats, and a hat

PS. I am your newest follower.

anthonynorth said...

You can be justifiably proud of him.

Leslie said...

Kay, this is just a marvelous story. I hope you get to go for the ceremony!

Reader Wil said...

He was so young! Isn't war sheer hell? Still he was one of the soldiers who helped to liberate France. He certainly was a hero. I can understand that you want to attend the ceremony in France! Later the Canadian army liberated my country as well, though I was still in Indonesia and we were liberated by the British in October 1945, who took us to Singapore..

Mara said...

What a great yet sad story. Such a shame he died so young. But what a wonderful story about those people who kept on looking for the remains of that plane and got in touch with your family! Some closure at least, although the sadness will probably remain.

Leslie: said...

Oh Kay! You simply MUST try to go. He was a very handsome young man and it is wonderful that he will be remembered for eternity in both France and in Canada. Wonderful post.


Sylvia K said...

What an incredible story, Kay! And you do have the right to be proud of him! What a handsome young man he was! And as with all young men and women during war who die way too early, they do so deserve to be remembered and honored! I hope you get to go to the ceremony! Thanks for sharing this with us!

ABC Team

Jane and Chris said...

What a wonderful tribute. God bless Harry and all those served and still serve.
Jane x

Hildred and Charles said...

A very poignant story, Kay, - it is a comfort for those who lost dear ones (Charles lost both his brothers) to know that they are remembered by the people they fought for, and that they continue the search for lost aircraft as well as tending the war cemeteries on the continent so lovingly. I hope you can attend the ceremony.

♥♥ Willa ♥♥ said...

He deserved all the Honor!

ABS Wednesday:H

Jose Ramon Santana Vazquez said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carola Bartz said...

In our family we also talked about those "who died in the war" like my mom's first husband (my sister's dad) or my dad's brother. Many of my dad's classmates "died in the war", none of them older than 21. It is so sad, all the loss of so young lives.
They all are heros, making the ultimate sacrifice.
I hope you can go to France and honor your cousin. He deserves it.

Roger Owen Green said...

never forget.
but, yes, war is hell, even the 'just' wars.
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Kay said...

What an amazing story. He is certainly an uncle to be proud of. It will be fantastic to go and attend that ceremony, not to mention record it.

Tumblewords: said...

Oh! What a story. I can't believe the outcome and do so hope you can attend. What a tribute that is!

Ebie said...

So many great heroes, and never forgotten. It is a great honor he deserved for the Street name.

Annie said...

Visiting here via cbw and her comments, Kay.

Interesting story here. I have a friend whose uncle's remains were identified in France, She was the first person to have a body identified from her DNA. She also was able to go over and attend a very emotional internment in one of their war cemeteries. Amazing what they can do these days, and it is happening more and more, nice to know so many people care.

Shooting Parrots said...

A very moving story. The French people do themselves great credit by demonstrating their gratitude.

Gattina said...

You can imagine as German I have no Heros to show, lol ! Except my poor uncle who was prisoner in Siberia whe he was 15 until he got free when he was 25 !! Imagine what a life for such a young boy ! My father never was a soldier he had the chance to have rheumatisme !

Cezar and Léia said...

Harry a brave man, a hero indeed!Your text is so lovely, you write with passion inside your heart, I have tears in my eyes, it's very beautiful!Thanks for sharing!

helenmac said...

Thank you, Kay, for the story of cousin Harry. So tragic, th many good young men lost in that war. My father's best friend, Danny Farley, his plane was shot down over Germany and never found. Hope that one day we will realize the folly of war and its costs in human life.

Martha Z said...

A beautiful tribute to your lost cousin. I try to remind the younger generations of those in our family who died without leaving behind further generations to remember them.

jabblog said...

What a tremendous story, Kay. I think it's marvellous that people keep looking for aircraft parts and tracing the pilots who flew them and perished. They really are very grateful.
It will be wonderful to attend the ceremony to honour this brave young man - so very young!
By the way, I think you're right about Haig. Of course he wasn't solely responsible for the ill deeds of that terrible war - he was a product of his time and knew no better than to lead from behind.

Cildemer said...

A very sad post for H day but a great tribute to Harry and all the young people who lost their lives in that horrible war!
How I hate the idea of having to make wars!
Hope you can attend the ceremony, Kay! And if lived near Beauvais it would be a pleasure to meet you;o)

Have a nice and happy H day****

SquirrelQueen said...

What a moving tribute to your cousing Harry, he was indeed a real hero. I hope you get to attend the ceremony.

Nanka said...

You have paid rich tributes here to your cousin Harry and thank you for sharing!! It really is an incredible story and hope you can make it to France for the ceremony!!

Vinay said...

a wonderful tribute to your cousin! well said!

Vinay @ I Rhyme Without Reason

Dom said...


I am one of the Frenchmen who had found the plane two years ago.
My friend Eric (our Leader) and the mayor of Sacy-le-Grand are preparing a wonderful ceremony who will take place on 25 June. We are all very proud to pay homage to this young Caznadian pilot who died for our freedom. We will be very glad to meet his family.

FARDEL said...

Bravo pour cet article concernant Harry.
Le 25 juin 2011 sera pour moi et pour toute l'équipe l'aboutissement de nos recherches et de notre devoir de mémoire à l'égarde du Flying Officer H.H MacKenzie.
Son moteur dégagé des marais depuis mai 2009 sera exposé comme monument en sa mémoire et une rue sera également baptisée en son nom.
Ici à Sacy le Grand les habitants n'ont jamais oublié que le 3 janvier 1944 un jeune Canadien tombait pour notre Liberté.
Eric Fardel