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Remembering Albert McKenzie VC

17 September 2015

Memorial collection on Saturday for 1st World War hero

On Saturday, when The Lions entertain Southend United at The Den (kick-off 3pm), we will celebrate the life of a local First World War hero Albert McKenzie VC.

The Royal Navy will be present, holding a collection to help pay for a memorial to Albert which will be unveiled on the corner of Tower Bridge Road and Bermondsey Street at 12 noon on Friday 23rd October.

Albert Edward McKenzie was born on 23rd October 1898 and lived with his family in Shorncliffe Road, Southwark. The family were known to be regular followers of Millwall.

He joined the Royal Navy as an Able Seaman during the First World War (1914-18).

On 23rd April 1918 (St George’s Day) sailors from the Royal Navy (including Albert), led a raid to recapture the port of Zeebrugge.

Despite being severely wounded, McKenzie’s bravery, courage and fortitude, along with other comrades, ensured the success of the mission.

After the raid had been completed, sailors from HMS Vindictive and HMS Daffodil held a ballot (the first occasion this had occurred) and chose the courageous and critically wounded McKenzie to receive the Victoria Cross.

On 31st July 1918, he went in full uniform and on crutches to Buckingham Palace, accompanied by his mother and sister, to receive his VC from King George V. 

Late in 1918 Albert was still recovering from his wounds at Chatham Naval Hospital despite septic poisoning to his injured foot. Sadly he then caught the flu which developed into pneumonia and he died on 3rd November, one week before the Armistice was signed.

Albert McKenzie’s funeral in London was attended by thousands and he was buried in Camberwell Old Cemetery in a plot donated by the local council.

The Captain of HMS Vindictive, Albert’s ship, said at his funeral; “Mrs McKenzie has lost a son, but the nation has found a hero.”

Through the efforts of many people, including Lord West and Sir Simon Hughes, the fitting memorial, designed by a local artist is set to be unveiled next month.

Lord Simon Hughes says: "Paul Keefe and members of Albert’s old club have been raising money for a lasting memorial to Albert, and with the special help of Admiral Lord West, Albert’s family and many others, this memorial will be unveiled on Albert’s birthday next month.

"Millwall has very generously agreed to support the appeal for this lasting memorial at Saturday’s game.

"I hope all Millwall supporters will take pride in Albert’s memory and his valour, celebrate his links with our club, and give generously."

If you are unable to attend Saturday's game you can also make a donation in either of the following two ways:

Albert McKenzie VC Memorial Fund - Charity No 1154086
Stansfeld, Oxford and Bermondsey Club, Webb St, London SE1 5RJ

Bank Account
TSB
Albert McKenzie VC Memorial Fund
Sort Code: 77-91-40
Bank Account No. 15628460
253/255 Southwark Park Road, London SE1 3TS.

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