Monday, May 30, 2005

The Story of Sgt. MacKenzie


Seaforth Highlanders

Gaelic motto CUIDICH'N RIGH (Help the King)


I have wanted to watch "We Were Soldiers" for some time, and finally got the chance. It is a great movie that shows what our soldiers in Vietnam were like, at least before they started drafting dope smoking hippies because LBJ could bring himself to do what needed to be done to win the war, and could bring himself to bring our troops out if he wasn't going to win the war. Our soldiers never lost a single battle in Vietnam, including the Tet offensive, and it was only due to the traitors like John Kerry that South Vietnam was abandon to her enemies.

In this movie there was a song that sounded like the Scottish version of English, the tongue of my Whiteford ancestors. I looked up the words I could make out, and found an interesting story along with the lyrics of the song. It seems fitting to post this as we remember the bravery of our soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for love of kin and country:


The Story of Sgt. MacKenzie

Charles Stuart MacKenzie was a Sergeant in the Seaforth Highlanders.

He went to fight in France during World War One and was shot in the shoulder, the military sent him home to Scotland for treatment, where the surgeon wanted to amputate his arm. He immediately refused, stating that he had to get back to his men.

During his time in hospital he was asked what it was like to kill 'the hun' (as the Germans where called then). He replied what a waste of a fine body of men. On the steps of the hospital, the last picture of him was taken in his uniform. This picture hung in his home above the fireplace.

On his return to battle, he and his men were engaged in fixed bayonet combat. To the best of my knowledge, and taken from reports of the returning soldiers - one of his close friends fell, badly wounded. Charles stood his ground and fought until he was overcome and died from bayonet wounds.

On that day, my Great Grandmother and my Grandmother where sitting at the fire when the picture fell from the wall. My Great Grandmother looked, and said to my Grandmother "oh, my bonnie Charlie's dead." Sure enough a few days passed, then the local policeman brought the news - that Sgt. Charles Stuart MacKenzie had been killed in action.

This same picture now hangs above my fireplace. A few years back my wife Christine died of cancer, and in my grief I looked at his picture to ask what gave him the strength to go on. It was then, in my mind, that I saw him lying on the field and wondered what his final thoughts were. The words and music just appeared into my head.

I believe the men and woman like yourself who are prepared to stand their ground for their family - for their friends - and for their country; deserve to be remembered, respected and honoured. Sgt. MacKenzie, is my very small tribute to them.

After Sgt. Mackenzie was first released on our Tried and True CD Album in 2000, a copy of the song made it's way to the hands of Hollywood director, Randall Wallace and actor Mel Gibson. Immediately they both agreed that Sgt. MacKenzie should feature prominently in their upcoming movie "We Were Soldiers."

The rest, as they say - is history !

Joe Kilna MacKenzie


Click here for a web page with the audio of the first part of this song, as it was used in the movie, "We were Soldiers".

Lyrics

Scots Tongue

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun
Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

When they come a wull staun ma groon
Staun ma groon al nae be afraid

Thoughts awe hame tak awa ma fear
Sweat an bluid hide ma veil awe tears

Ains a year say a prayer faur me
Close yir een an remember me

Nair mair shall a see the sun
For a fell tae a Germans gun

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun
Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

English Translation

Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone

When they come I will stand my ground
Stand my ground I'll not be afraid

Thoughts of home take away my fear
Sweat and blood hide my veil of tears

Once a year say a prayer for me
Close your eyes and remember me

Never more shall I see the sun
For I fell to a Germans gun

Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Where before many more have gone