Biography

Birth date: 16 May 1922
Birth place: Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Leichhardt
Death date: 12 May 1945
Death place: Borneo: Tarakan
Final rank: Corporal
Service number: NX20317 - Second World War, 1939-1945
Unit: 2/3rd Pioneer Battalion

John Mackey was born at Leichhardt, Sydney, and until his enlistment worked in his father's bakery. He embarked with the 2/3rd Pioneer Battalion in November 1941, serving in Syria and in the later operations at El Alamein. He also took part in the New Guinea campaign. The landing on Tarakan Island, Borneo, was the battalion's final campaign.

Mackey had already been recognised as an outstanding and brave junior leader. On 12 May 1945 he displayed those qualities again on Tarakan Island, Netherlands East Indies. Together with his lance corporal, Mackey approached a well-defended position along a steep and narrow spur. Reaching a Japanese light machine-gun post, the two men killed four enemy soldiers, but Mackey's companion was wounded. Mackey killed the remaining Japanese, then dealt with a heavy machine-gun crew in an adjacent bunker. Taking up an Owen gun, he moved towards another heavy machine-gun nest, and managed to silence it before he was mortally wounded. Mackey was eventually laid to rest in Labuan War Cemetery.

Mackey was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, and service medals for the Second World War.

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Rolls and Awards

  • Rank: Corporal
  • Date of Death: 12 May 1945
  • Unit: 2/3rd Pioneer Battalion
  • Recommended for: Victoria Cross
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: Victoria Cross
  • Unit: 2/3rd Pioneer Battalion
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Collection Items

Photograph

Timeline

Date of birth 1922-05-16
Date of death 1945-05-12
Date of honour or award 1945-05-12 Awarded Victoria Cross for action at Tarakan Island, East Indies whilst serving with 2/3 Pioneer Battalion, 9 Division as a Corporal.