Father of Navy communications honoured

Published on FLTOFF Andrew Eastman (author), David Millard (photographer)

A plaque dedicated to the late LEUT Foster McKenzie is unveiled at the Defence Force School of Signals. From left, XO DFSS LCDR Mick Kludass, LEUT McKenzie's grandchildren David Watt and Katrina Chalke, along with his daughter Anne Watt and CO DFSS LTCOL Dean Limmer. (photo: David Millard)
A plaque dedicated to the late LEUT Foster McKenzie is unveiled at the Defence Force School of Signals. From left, XO DFSS LCDR Mick Kludass, LEUT McKenzie's grandchildren David Watt and Katrina Chalke, along with his daughter Anne Watt and CO DFSS LTCOL Dean Limmer.

Known as the ‘Father of Navy communications’, the late Lieutenant Foster McKenzie played a crucial role in developing the capability of Royal Australian Navy communications during the 20th century.
 
On 25 September, three family members of Lieutenant McKenzie were joined by members from all three services at the Australian Defence Force School of Signals for the unveiling of the new Lieutenant Foster McKenzie display.
 
Lieutenant McKenzie’s daughter, Mrs Anne Watt, 84, helped launched the display which will become part of a growing collection of displays commemorating the service of Australian Navy, Army and Air Force communicators who have paved the way for the Australian Defence Force’s current capabilities.
 
Mrs Watt said she was moved to see her father’s original medals on display, on loan to the School of Signals from the family.
 
A brief description of Lieutenant McKenzie’s career, including his Second World War mention in dispatches ‘for skill, resolution and coolness in Royal Australian Navy ships during operations in the Solomon Islands’ is also part of the display.
 
Lieutenant McKenzie had the unusual distinction of being present for the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow (Scotland) at the end of First World War (in HMS Tiger) and in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender at the end of the Second World War (in HMAS Shropshire).
 
Mary ‘May’ McKenzie, Lieutenant McKenzie’s eldest daughter, was unable to be present at the unveiling, however a special presentation will be made to her and the residents of her retirement home in Fitzroy next year.
 
A talented and committed pioneer in his field, Lieutenant McKenzie is more than deserving of his place in Australian naval history and his display in the Defence Force School of Signals.