Diary of George Davidson Mackie, December 1940 - October 1942


Diary relating to the Second World War service of NX22559 Gunner George Davidson Mackie, 2/1 Anti-Aircraft Regiment (Composite), 10 December 1940 - 11 October 1942.

In the first of two diaries, Mackie begins to document his active service during December 1940, six months after enlisting. He opens the diary by providing some background information on his family and their immigration to Australia, and briefly refers to the circumstances surrounding his enlistment and subsequent training. Ensuing diary entries document his active service in earnest, detailing camp life in Sydney and training activities with the 2/1 Anti-Aircraft Regiment (Composite) up to June 1941. During this period he also comments on domestic defence duties including manning anti-aircraft guns at Fort Wallace near Newcastle and machine guns mounted on the Sydney Harbour Bridge as well as periods of leave and preparations leading up to his posting overseas.

Following his embarkation from Sydney on 28 June 1941, Mackie documents his voyage to the Middle East. He comments on cramped conditions and changing routines on board the ship, distinctions in the treatment of officers and enlisted ranks, simmering tensions and skirmishes amongst the men, and stopping at several ports of call. After disembarking at Suez, he offers a descriptive account of a port littered with ruined vehicles and vessels but bristling with military activity and local residents. He goes on to record his train journey to Gaza with great interest including a colourful exchange with a large group of Italian prisoners. From late July 1941 to early February 1942 Mackie records his service in Palestine, Syria and Egypt, reporting on training activities and day-to-day duties with anti-aircraft crews, camp life and periods of leave typically spent socialising, sightseeing and exploring the surrounding region.

After embarking from a port in Egypt on 3 February 1942, Mackie pens a detailed account of his voyage to Australia. Whilst anchored at Kochi in India during a week of leave, he writes about the city and its inhabitants in descriptive and complimentary terms, but shares some choice comments for a small contingent of ill-behaved Australian troops. After disembarking at Adelaide, he documents his deployment to the Northern Territory through to September 1942. During this period he provides an insight into his role as a gunner with anti-aircraft crews set against the broader air campaign in the South Pacific. During an initial posting to an anti-aircraft position near Darwin, and subsequently whilst stationed at Livingstone and Batchelor Airfields, he writes at length about air raids, dog fights, downed planes and Allied air operations in addition to camaraderie with Allied troops, camp life and day-to-day duties on the "drome". Closing diary entries cover his long road and rail journey to Sydney for a period of leave.