The Superhuman

Lieutenant Colonel A. E. G. McKenzie, D.S.O. †
26th (New Brunswick) BattalionMcKenzie

…he followed the immediate centre of his Battalion, and seeing his men held up by most destructive fire of all kinds, he pushed forward to personally lead them and was killed while so doing. On the way, prior to his death, he showed an extreme coolness and an almost superhuman courage.

(Capt. McGillivray to 5th Brigade O.C., 26th Bn. War Diary, Aug 1918, 32)

Archibald Ernest Graham McKenzie was a New Brunswick lawyer, Liberal Party campaigner and militia officer. He was born 21 January 1878 in Campbellton, McKenzie served as second-in-command with the 26th Battalion when it arrived in France in September 1915. By May 1916, he had replaced an ill Lieutenant Colonel James L. McAvity as commander of the battalion.

McKenzie led the 26th through the Somme and Vimy Ridge. He attended a senior officers’ course in England during the summer of 1917 and resumed command during the battle of the Passchendaele in October. He was killed in action on 28 August 1918 while leading an attack during the battle of the Scarpe. According to Captain McGillivray, the colonel “calmly walked through the barrage and by his cool demeanor encouraged those men to advance.” He was temporarily succeeded by Major C. G. Porter until Major W. R. Brown returned to the battalion in early September.

On learning of the death notice, New Brunswick Premier Walter Edward Foster paid tribute: “no soldier ever did better service for his country, and none will be more greatly missed.” In recognition of his heroism, McKenzie received a posthumous Bar to his Distinguished Service Order. Although Brigadier General Alexander Ross also nominated the late 26th commander for a Victoria Cross, the award was denied.


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