Loss of F/O Henry “Harry” Hector MacKenzie (RCAF) – 3rd January 1944
No.198 Sqn Typhoon JR523 piloted by F/O Henry “Harry” Hector MacKenzie (RCAF) took off from Manston at 1143hrs as “Blue 3” in a formation of four Typhoons with F/Lt R.O. Curtis (63456), F/Lt R.J. Dall (NZ41535) and F/O R. Armstrong on a Ranger operation to Juvincourt Airfield.
In low cloud when they arrived at Compaigne, five Messerschmitt Bf109s were encountered at the same fight, and a dogfight ensued. One Bf109G was destroyed by Curtis, with and another two damaged by Dall and Armstrong, but the fight had split the formation in cloud and all aircraft returned to base individually.
During that return trip, F/L Dall as Blue 1 checked the formation by radio telephone and received an OK from all including F/O MacKenzie, but when the formation reformed he was missing. The rest of the section landed back at Manston at 1315hrs. MacKenzie was posted as missing presumed killed and found at the controls of Typhoon JR523 by local witnesses M. Doré and M. Picard who saw black smoke coming from the engine, followed by engine stopping and plunging into the swamp. The aircraft was claimed by Unteroffizier Willibald Reimer of 6./JG2.
F/O MacKenzie’s body was recovered the next day by German soldiers but he was buried as an unknown pilot until identification in 1946. The aircraft was recovered in 2009.
Part of the aircraft is being using during the restoration of Typhoon RB396.
F/O Curtis would later be killed on the 20th January 1944, Sq Ldr (at that time) Dall on 4th July 1945, F/O Armstrong taken as POW on 18th June 1944.
Following text courtesy of and with permission from Association des Sauveteurs d’Aviateurs Alliés.
“Harry” was born on 17th April 1920, at Anyox, British Columbia, Canada. He enlisted in the RCAF on 13th August 1941 in Vancouver. After his training period he was sent to England on 18th August 1942 and was assigned to the 198 Squadron on 15th December 1942. This Squadron was equipped with Hawker Typhoon Mk IB since December 1942 and participated with the famous 609 Squadron in numerous invasive missions over occupied Europe.
In 2009, the remains of the wreck of the Hawker Typhoon # JR 523 were uncovered from the marshes of Sacy-le-Grand by a research team including notably the Napier Sabre engine which equipped this aircraft. After many days of effort, it was cleared and taken out from the marshes along with several parts of the plane and personal items of the airman.
The village of Sacy-le-Grand decided in 2011 to name a street after the pilot and to put up a memorial, consisting of the restored engine, in the town hall park.
The ceremony took place on 25th June 2011 in the presence of many French and Canadian authorities, villagers and members of the MacKenzie family who made the trip from Canada. Now the story of the sacrifice of the young Canadian is known to all the inhabitants of the village and his memory is commemorated every year during official ceremonies.
You can see details and photos of the recovery at this link: http://asaapicardie3945.fr/index.php/english/events/143-april-2009-looking-for-and-finding-the-hawker-typhoon-mk-ib-n-jr523-sacy-le-grand-oise
We would like to thank the Association des Sauveteurs d’Aviateurs Alliés (ASAA) http://asaapicardie3945.fr/ for their kind permission to reproduce text from their article and their photos.