Charles (Buga) was commissioned Lieutenant 1 Mar 1941. He was an original member of the unit, embarking aboard “S.S. ZEALANDIA” on 8 Dec 1941 for Timor as a Lieutenant, Officer Commanding, No 2 Section, “A” Platoon.
No 2 Section were detailed to defend the DILI Airstrip at the initial Japanese landing, for which he was awarded a Military Cross, London Gazette, 2 Feb 1943, Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No 337-31 Dec 1941.
He was promoted to Temporary Captain on 4 Jul 1942 and Captain 1 Sept 1942. After the campaign on Timor, he embarked with the unit, for Australia aboard the Royal Dutch destroyer “Tjerk Hiddes” on 16 Dec 1942.
Awarded a Commander in Chief's, Commendation Card, date unknown, for services on Timor.
Awarded a Netherlands Bronze Cross, for services in Timor, Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No 233-23 Nov 1944.
After leave and reorganization, he embarked with the unit for New Guinea aboard S.S. “DUNTROON” on 17 Jun 1943 as a Captain, Officer Commanding, “C” Troop. He enplaned at Moresby for Australia on 2 Mar 1944 and transferred to 1st Australian Commando Training Squadron as an Instructor on 28 May 1944.
On 7 Aug 1944 transferred to Land Headquarters, 2nd echelon and embarked for INDIA aboard "REYNELLA" as a Member of the Australian Officers Mission to India, Aug 1944 to Apr 1945. Saw service with 51st Indian Brigade, at ARAKAN, "C" Company, 8/19th Hyderabad Regiment, at AKYAB, Headquarters, 11th East African Division, at CHINDWIN, No 11 Special Light boat Section (British Marine Commandos), engaged in night operations against enemy held positions and light craft on the CHINDWIN River.
This service entitled him to a “BURMA” Clasp for his “PACIFIC STAR”, this is very rare to an Australian Soldier.
He returned to Australia aboard "MADURA" on 13 Mar 1945, was promoted Major and Commanding Officer of 2/12th Commando Squadron on 4 Apr 1945 and embarked for MOROTAI aboard "CHARLES LUMMIS" on 28 Apr 1945. He embarked for British North Borneo aboard "LCI (Landing Craft Troops) 1075" on 31 May 1945, then embarked for MOROTAI aboard "LST 408"on 3 Nov 1945 and posted as Second in Command of 66th Infantry Battalion. He embarked for Japan with them aboard "PACHANG VICTORY" on 17 Feb 1946 as British Commonwealth Occupation Force, Japan, 1946-1949. He was discharged from the A.I.F. on 15 Jul 1949 and enlisted in the Regular Army with Service No 57542 and served with 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, 1949-1953.
Charles served as Commanding Officer, Southern Command Personnel Depot, 1953-1962.
He was discharged on 17 May 1962 as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Gerry's wife Mary was made a Life Member of the Association in 1986.
McKenzie, Charles Francis Gerald Lieutenant WX5369
Dutch Bronze Cross
“Lieut. McKenzie was in charge of a section at the Dilli Aerodrome on the night of 19/20 Feb. 1942, when a Japanese force landed and later occupied the aerodrome at Dilli. The orders for the demolition of the aerodrome were to have been given by the Dutch Headquarters, but as the lines of communication had been cut, Lieut. McKenzie summed up the position and acting on his own initiative, gave the necessary orders to demolish the aerodrome. About this time the enemy pressure on the aerodrome was considerable, and Lieut. McKenzie’s force was being surrounded. Lieut. McKenzie with great coolness, ordered an attack on a small bridge which the Japanese were using to approach the aerodrome, to synchronise with the demolition of the aerodrome. Fierce fighting ensured, resulting in a large number of enemy casualties. The dust caused by the demolition of the runways of the aerodrome permitted McKenzie’s party to withdraw under cover of this screen. The resolute action of Lieut. McKenzie and his sound, capable and determined leadership resulted in the very effective destruction of the runways of the aerodrome”.
“Lieut. McKenzie was in charge of a section of 18 men and 2 attached personnel at the Dili Aerodrome on the night of 19/20 Feb. 1942, when an enemy attack was expected. Communication with headquarters being cut, he acted on his own initiative and gave orders for the demolition of the aerodrome. As the attack developed and his force was in danger of being surrounded, he carried out an attack on a small bridge which was providing the enemy with access to the aerodrome. Fierce fighting took place, but the resolute action of Lieut. McKenzie and his men, and his capable and determined leadership, resulted in the destruction of the runways of the aerodrome”.
He received the Military Cross, 1939-45 Star, Pacific Star with Burma bar, Defence Medal, War Medal and Australian Service Medal, also the Netherlands Bronze Cross.
He is now entitled to an Australian Service Medal 1945-75 with "JAPAN" Clasp.