Tributes and Remembrances  - Mac Gregory Mackenzie J. Gregory
(9 February 1922 - 27 August 2014)

Click here to see the index to Mac's tributes 

I am honoured to have known you a little Mac

Dear Sirs 

I am almost a year in cognisance of the passing of Mac in August of last year

I came across his website about a decade ago and have helped him and spoken with him on a few (too few) occasions over the years 

I am the second cousin (removed) of Mac's old boss - Commander and later Captain John Malet Armstrong (Jock or Black Jack) the XO and later Captain of HMAS Australia 

Mac spoke fondly of Jock and recounted to me several tales of daring do on board 

I am honoured to have known you a little Mac, and I am thinking of you and your family 

RIP with your fellow shipmates. I salute you Mac

your truly indeed



EF Malet de Carteret


Condolences from a baby Bracegirdle

I am so sorry that this consummate gentleman has died and Mac was an inspiration to my late Father, to myself and many more. His erudite website has been a magnificent example to all naval historians and shipmates. It was a huge pleasure to meet Mac and his wife in Canberra at the launch of an exhibition at AWM entitled "FIFTY AUSTRALIANS".

RAN history is made all the more accessible by this wonderful gentleman and even in our sorrow, we hope that his family are strengthened by the many tributes from all over the globe.

God Bless you Mac,





Condolences - Pattie Wright

I am so very sorry to hear that this gentle, and clever man has left this world.

I met Mac back in 2009 when I was doing the early research prep on work for a biography of CPO Ray Parkin - HMAS Perth.

I had found Mac's website, Ahoy, and called him. We became email buddies and when, one day, I asked him if he could come over to my house for a cuppa and cake and try to give a land lubba' some idea of how Perth's final battle played out, he was happy to do so.

Thank you for your service Mac. I am honoured to have met you. Fair winds and smooth seas.

Pattie Wright


Mac Was My Inspiration - Bruce M. Petty New Zealand

I met Mac in Melbourne over ten years ago on my way to New Zealand, where I now live.

Even before I met Mac I interviewed him long distance for a book I was writing about naval officers in the Pacific War. The book is titled, At War in The Pacific, and as a result of that interview I made up my mind that if ever I had the chance I would write a book about what I came to call Our Forgotten Allies in The Pacific War.

As fate dictated, I ended up moving to New Zealand in 2004; but instead of writing a book about Australia's role in the Pacific War, I ended up writing one about New Zealand in the Pacific War, but Mac was my inspiration. However, my publisher didn't like my title, which I wanted to be, New Zealand: One of Our Forgotten Allies in The Pacific War. Instead, it was titled, New Zealand in The Pacific War: Personnel Accounts of World War II. I still think my title was better.

I'm sure glad I had a chance to know Mac. There aren't too many like him around.

Bruce M. Petty--

New Zealand


Mac's Library December 2003 with Bruce

Mac in Mac's Library, December 2003 with Bruce Petty
(picture taken by Peter Flahavin)


Rest in Peace Sailor - Ron Riml USA

[Image]I haven’t checked Mac’s ‘Log’ in much too long – and will miss him. We ‘chatted’ occasionally through email – and I know he’s all to blame for my old ship’s bell winding up “Down Under” in Australia (see "Canberra Ships Bell and visiting Washington"). Reckon that’s a much better fate than being forgotten in some warehouse here in the States.

I served aboard USS Canberra from 1966 through 1968, and was lucky enough to visit Melbourne on her cruise there. Best ship I was ever assigned! (see "Ships Bell and visiting Washington")

Reckon I’ll catch up with Mac on Fiddler’s Green when my ‘Watch’ is relieved.

Ron Riml

Senior Chief Petty Officer, USNR-Ret

East Boothbay, ME

United States of America


Rest In Peace Dear Friend Mac - Matthias J. Maurer Germany

Today I had to learn that Mac has deceased in August this year!

What sad news indeed!

Mac was one of those to support our society during the time after having established, and he helped us by organising a website.

Together with Terry Kearns we in the first month had an English site, later on the German translation too.

We will never forget your help, unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet personally.

Rest in peace, dear friend Mac.

Matthias J. Maurer

President Felix Count von Luckner Society



Condolences - John Magee

Dear Raymond,

Sorry to here of your father’s passing.

He had an interest in HMS Pathfinder and had contacted the Queensferry History Group.

Pathfinder was the first ship in history to be sunk by a powered torpedo fired from U 21 5th September 1914 the e-mails sent were from the 100th anniversary of her sinking, we exchanged e-mail, my Grandfather was Master at Arms Richard E Magee, killed that day.

With kind regards

John Magee


Condolences - Francie Mendelsohn USA


Thank you so much for getting back to me.

I am very sorry for your loss.

I will try and find a Holocaust or WWII museum in Canada and see if I have any luck.

Francie Mendelsohn

United States of America


Condolences - Catherine Forrester

Dear Raymond,

I am sorry to hear that - my condolences to you and all your family.

Thank you for your work in keeping the website accessible.

Best wishes,

Catherine Forrester



Condolences - Michael Burton Finland

Dear Sir/ Madam,

So sorry to hear Mac passed away he was very helpful when I wrote and asked him about the convoy RB1 which sailed from USA and England, he published the article I sent (see Convoy RB1 first published 22 April 2006).

Again, my condolences.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Burton


PS Keep up the good work


Condolences - LCDR Henry Hall MBE OAM RAN (Rtd)

I am saddened by the news of the death of MacKenzie Gregory.

As an Ord.Sea. Second Class I served with him on HMAS Australia in 1939. We also served on HMAS Canberra at Savo Island 1942.

When MacKenzie left the Compass Platform he joined me in the Fore Control when at Action Stations. I was the Inclinometer Operator.

LCDR Henry Hall MBE OAM RAN (Rtd)



Top Bloke - David Angwin

Hello Raymond,

Sorry to hear the news.

Mac was a top bloke.

I can't believe it.

Best Regards.

David Angwin

HMAS Sydney II



Fantastically Impressive Website - Ken Muhr

Dear Raymond,

I am very sorry to learn that your father has died.

I knew him only in electronic communication, but I was struck by his kindness, friendliness and enthusiasm.

His website was/ is fantastically impressive and I am pleased that you are going to keep it going.

I know that it is a difficult time for your family, but you will be fortified by memories of a great man.

Best wishes,

Ken Muhr

United Kingdom


Condolences - Heather Hamer

Further to my previous email, I note that "Mac" has died last month, my condolences to his family.

I am grateful for having found this website.

Again, best wishes,

Heather Hamer



Remarkable Career - Orjan Lindroth

Dear Raymond,

Thank you for your reply and sorry to hear that he has passed away.

He clearly had a remarkable career and was part of a tumultuous history which he must of contributed much good to.

Best regards,

Orjan Lindroth


Great Inspiration - Anne McCulloch

To Mac's family,

I wish to express my condolences on his passing.

I knew Mac when he was a Cub Leader at 2nd Macleod Scout Group and I was an assistant.

He was a great inspiration to the Cubs and also to the other leaders who were in the group. I hope the happy memories of times spent with him will comfort you all at this time of parting.

He certainly led a full and adventurous life.

What an amazing man!


Anne McCulloch



Condolences David Lloyd

Hi Raymond….

Firstly, my condolences to you and your family.

Secondly, I am very impressed that you went to the effort to contact me. A BIG thank you.

David Lloyd

New Zealand


True Gentleman - Lance McDermott

Unfortunately, I only met Mac twice. The first time was last August when I attended my first meeting of the Canberra/Shropshire Association and again on Anzac day this year. Mac struck me as a true gentleman and I am saddened that I won’t have the opportunity to get to know him better.

I’ve recently taken over as the editor of the Victorian Division of the Canberra/Shropshire Association newsletter and it would be my privilege if you would allow me to reproduce your obituary for Mac that you posted on his website.

Kind Regards

Lance McDermott



Educational Website - John Shaw UK

Hi Raymond,

I’m really sorry for your loss. Sad times, but I’m sure you’re all very proud of your Dad’s achievements. His website and contacts are still educational.

All the best for the future, thank you for replying.

Kindest regards,

John Shaw

United Kingdom


Not Forgotten Thanks To Website - Anne Warnes

Dear Raymond,

Thank you for the E-mail.

I’m very sorry to hear about your father. Thanks to his website neither he, nor his knowledge will be forgotten.

Sincere condolences,

Anne Warnes


Knowledgeable Gentleman - Joshua Phelps

Hello Raymond,

I'm very sorry to hear that.

I can tell he was a very knowledgeable gentleman from the interesting articles on the web page.

Thank you for responding so quickly.

Best wishes

Joshua Phelps


Knowledge Will Be Missed - Kathy Rockwell

Thank you for your email.

Best wishes to you at this sad time. His knowledge will indeed be missed.


Kathy Rockwell



The Final ‘Passage’ - David Davies United Kingdom

Congratulations Mac and Farewell

Congratulations Mac on a job exceedingly well done, you will be missed by your loved ones, those closest to you.

I hope your loved ones do not mind if the Millions of Log readers who know the SEA and Mac through this medium past and in the future, remember him with affection and respect for his vast knowledge of ships the sea and the people who served in and on the unpredictable unforgiving sea.

My contact with Mac was after the death of my Master Mariner father in 2001. He lost both his brothers during the Second World War and I became interested in the loss of these two ships.

The brothers Brynley (27) and Edward (26) were engineer officers. Brynley served aboard the King Lud which was lost on the 8th June 1942 with all hands to JIN10 submarine in the Mozambique Channel heading to Trincomalee details of which I found on the "Web Log". Edward served aboard the Lylepark she was heading for Cape Town and was attacked by the German surface raider ship No 28 "Michel" in the Southern Atlantic on 11th June 1942 with the loss of 18 hands. My father had read the book "loss of a German surface raider" which describes this incident.

So without Mac we would not have known what fate befell the "King Lud" My Father believed that this ship was heading to South Africa from Trincomalee, which is what he told me, and that was all he knew about that loss.

Farewell Mac.

Peace be with you and your loved ones.


David Davies

United Kingdom


Terrific Work - Dennis Whitehead USA

Dear Raymond,

My sympathies to you and your family

Your father did terrific work and it is most appreciated.

I'm not sure whether your father's full name was associated with the website. I have finished the book and did credit his website but I would like to name him, in particular, if you would like.

Best Wishes,

Dennis Whitehead

United States of America


Remarkable In His Career - Cameron Smyth

Hi Raymond,

Thank you for your reply.

It is sad to hear of your Father's passing. I read some of his Naval service details on the website. He was certainly remarkable in his career.

I always lament the passing of one of his generation. I think perhaps that they were the most talented generation we have yet produced, and looking at the direction our country is taking of late, we desperately need more of his and his generation’s calibre.

Once again, thank you for your reply.  I was glad to be able to contact some of the family of Nestor crew through your Father’s site. Many thanks for that opportunity.

Cameron Smyth



September 2014


Patron of the Victorian Artificial Reef Society - John Lawler

Mac was also an Honorary Member of the Victorian Sub Aqua Group (VSAG) Australia’s longest established non-commercial private scuba diving club.

I am a past President of that club. Mac came to this club and did his excellent presentation on his time on the first Canberra lost at the Battle of Savo Island 1942.

Mac visited the EX-HMAS Canberra FFG-02 whilst she was being prepared for scuttling as an artificial reef of Ocean Grove. Here is a picture of that visit.

Mac visited the EX-HMAS Canberra FFG-02 whilst she was being prepared for scuttling as an artificial reef of Ocean Grove. Here is a picture of that visit.


John Lawler

Past President VARS



Tremendous Legacy From An Amazing Man - Duncan Matthews

Dear Raymond,

First of all, please accept my deepest condolences at your sad loss.  Your father has (in his web-page) left a tremendous legacy for so many seafarers/genealogists/historians, and I trust that this will sustain you and the family at this time. What an amazing man.

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my enquiry…I quite understand; and I have no doubt the website will still assist my researches, and I am grateful to your dear father for that.

Kindest regards,

Yours aye

Duncan Matthews

(Highland Piper - Royal Naval Pipers' Society)

United Kingdom


Hi Jayne,

Sincere sympathies to you and the family.

Mac was a great contributor to our Advisory Committee and also a wonderful friend.

We have had a suggestion that a Gallipoli Oak tree could be planted next year in honour of Mac, ideally at a primary school with which Mac may have had some connection.

Please let me know if this idea would be acceptable to the family.

Best regards

Peter Whitelaw

Chairman – Gallipoli Oaks Project Committee



The Legacy of Mac Gregory - An Officer and a Gentleman - Rex Williams

Extracted in part from The Three Headed Dog, the Newsletter of the Naval Historical Society of Australia Inc. Victoria Chapter September 2014

During August 2014 [one] of our WW11 Veterans ‘Passed Over the Bar’. On 27 August 2014, we lost our Vice President/Historian LCDC Mac Gregory.

Mac Gregory was my close friend and colleague. Truly an Officer and a Gentleman, always anxious to help in any way he could. Generous to a fault, he happily spent hours researching families’ requests for information on a loved one’s Naval service. He was an excellent speaker and author ever ready to promote our Navy and her people. Fiercely loyal to the concepts and objectives of our Naval Historical Society, he was a past President and served as one of my Vice Presidents, offering advice and support where requested.

His ‘Ahoy Website’ is testament to his dedication to Navy and her people. We are delighted that it will continue.

Another legacy left to us by Mac is the ‘Answering the Call’ project which is so near to coming to fruition, and which will be located on the foreshore at Port Melbourne. Mac signed the contract with the sculptor shortly before he died and we look forward to its completion early next year. This 7’6” (230cm) bronze state of a sailor in ‘round rig’ is being erected to symbolize the man thousands of naval servicemen and women who left our shores to serve their country, particularly remembering those with the PM prefix before their service number who left from this site. The statue will be situated almost opposite the exact site of the former HMAS LONSDALE and will be set on a one metre granite block. This project was begun over 10 years ago by Mac and his friend, Don Boyle, and it is being brought into being by the Naval Heritage Foundation of Australia Inc. of which Mac was the President.

Mac’s story is available on his Web log. Please visit it.

He was a brave and resourceful sailor who served his country with distinction both in war and peace. Tribute articles to our Mac Gregory are in the course of being prepared and will be available in due course. His was a fascinating Naval career.

Rex Williams

The Naval Historical Society of Australia Inc.


A Legacy of Scholarship and Information - Ian Pfennigwerth

I think we should bear in mind that Mac had a good, long life, his health was pretty good and his mind was sound. From what I saw of him he enjoyed what he was doing, and he had something enjoyable to do.

He will, of course, be missed - an irreplaceable loss. But I also think we should give thanks that we had him amongst us for so long and were privileged to have the benefit of his friendship and his enthusiasm for the Navy and for the NHSA. He leaves a legacy of scholarship and information that could not have been assembled otherwise.

It is a shame that he left us without giving us a chance to say goodbye and to record our appreciation for his presence and contribution to our lives. But I got the impression that he was used to getting his own way on most things and in this last act he showed that too. If that was what he wanted, he had certainly earned the right to have his wishes respected.

Farewell Mac: we were glad to have you as part of our lives for so long.

Ian Pfennigwerth



Grand Legacy - Tom Sanger

Dear Mac,

We never met except by email. My interest in the British passenger liner Athenia brought me to your pages as I began to research my forthcoming historical novel, Without Warning. What an invaluable resource you provided! I was able to share on your website the recollections of my grandmother, Rhoda Thomas, who was a passenger on Athenia and survived the Sept. 3, 1939 torpedoing. (see Rhonda Thomas' personal account - "Experiences of an Athenia Survivor") You and Terry were most welcoming and made it easy to share her story. Many months later, as a result of some additional research, I was able to provide the identity of the author of a letter, posted on your Athenia pages, that vividly described the capsizing of a lifeboat during rescue operations by the yacht, Southern Cross. The letter was signed by “Ruth” and mentioned someone named “Hal” and a boy named “Geoff.” Through contemporary newspaper articles I was able to determine the letter writer was Ruth Etherington; Harold was her husband and Geoff their 10-year-old son. A year ago I connected with Geoff Etherington in Florida and he gave me a great deal of information about the family’s Athenia experiences. None of this would have happened were it not for “Ahoy.”

Your vision and your energy propelled your website, which undoubtedly has helped to connect hundreds of people. More importantly, “Ahoy” shares its many vivid historical memories with millions of other people. These are personal memories that would have been lost forever but for your efforts. What a grand legacy you created.

Rest in peace, Mac.

Tom Sanger


Amazing Legacy Supporting The World Over - Linda

Hello Raymond

I am so very sorry to hear the sad news about your father. He has left an amazing legacy which has, and is supporting people the world over. They were a truly remarkable generation for us to look up to. I greatly appreciate you taking the trouble to respond to this request at such a difficult time.

I did not know any of my grandparents - all gone before my arrival. In one of the articles on your dad's website there is an image of someone from the back and I believe it to be my mother's father. We only have one tiny image of him in the family and none of the other three, so even this back image is hugely important to us - thanks to your father.

With Kindest Regards,


Remembering Mac - Ron Strachan

I have had a lot to do with Mac over the years personally and on committees.

Mac was President of the H.M.A.S. Shropshire and H.M.A.S. Canberra Association and I am the Treasurer.

Mac was such a dedicated navy man after many years in the Royal Australian Navy, with many a story to tell.

Mac was a great historian which is evident with articles written in his Ahoy Page which had many hits.

Mac was a navy man through and through, he will be sadly missed.

On behalf of the H.M.A.S. Shropshire and the H.M.A.S. Canberra Association our deepest sympathy to Denise and Mac’s Families

Ron Strachan


A Fine Historian Who Will Be Missed Around The World For His Wit And Wisdom

I never met Mac, although I feel as though I did as I had quite a few email exchanges with him over the years.

He was a fine historian and a great help to me when writing my book LOST—Ships of the RAN.

Mac’s experiences in HMAS Canberra formed part of the chapter on that ship—with his permission of course.

During one of the last conversations I had with him I said that I’d drop in and see him in Melbourne some time.  He replied that I better not leave it too long.  Unfortunately I did.

Mac’s blog was a terrific resource and a great read.

I know that he will be missed by a great many people around the world for his wit and wisdom.

My condolences to his family.

Allen Lyne



A Tribute to our Friend and Colleague 'Mac' - Rex Williams

LCDR Mackenzie Gregory RAN Rtd  'Passes over the Bar'  


Mackenzie Gregory was a compassionate, giving man with a passion for Naval History.

He was a very committed member of the Naval Historical Society of Australia, always seeking to further the aims and objectives of the society at any opportunity. 

A highly intelligent man he was a former Chapter President and currently fulfilled the role of Chapter Historian and Vice President.

Through his web site and role as Chapter Historian he was ever ready to assist members of the public seeking information.

Mac was an excellent communicator and spoke extremely well. He told things as they were and was able to reach out to all ages, young and small.

Mac was a prolific contributor to his website: Mac’s web log ahoy which featured 28324 articles on naval, maritime Australian historical subjects and more.

With his passing Australia is all the poorer.

We may never see his like again! 

Rex Williams


Our Committee was deeply saddened to learn of Mac’s recent passing - Military History & Heritage Victoria

4 September 2014

Our Committee was deeply saddened to learn of Mac’s recent passing. We would like to express our condolences to you and your family.

His life was rich in experiences and his wisdom and grace were widely respected within our military history circles.

As our Vice-President, Mac was a tremendous supporter and magnificent ambassador for our organisation.

Our Committee agreed that we would like to maintain his memory by sponsoring Mac’s Ahoy web site through Military History and Heritage Victoria. The wealth of historical material he collated is a valuable asset and we would like to see it remain available to the public. When and if you would like to discuss this prospect please feel free to contact me directly.

Again, our deepest sympathies for your loss.

Colonel Marcus Fielding

Patron: Major General Jim Barry, AM, MBE, RFD, ED (Rtd)

Vice Patrons: Professor Bruce Scates and Dr. Jim Wood RFD, ED (Col. Rtd)

President: Colonel Marcus Fielding


Sadly Missed by the Naval Community - David Blazey, Naval Officers Club Committee

Dear Jayne,

Thank you for your recent message advising the Naval Officers Club of the death of your father, Lieutenant Commander Mac Gregory. Though the Committee was made aware of this, the sad news only filtered through to Sydney after distribution of the recent Newsletter.

Mac was a wonderful supporter of the Victorian Division activities, and especially to the Victorian Chapter of he Naval Historical Society.

He will be sadly missed by the Naval community.

Please pass on our sincere condolences to his family.

David Blazey
Membership Secretary
on behalf of the Naval Officers Club Committee


A Wonderful Gentleman - Peter Whitelaw, Chairman – Gallipoli Oaks Project Committee

Dear Family,

My condolences on the loss of Mac.

He was an active member of our Advisory Committee and we appreciated his insight and enthusiasm.

Also a wonderful gentleman.

Best regards

Peter Whitelaw

Chairman – Gallipoli Oaks Project Committee



Great Man RIP - Marcus Fielding

I have just been made aware that our esteemed Vice-President Mackenzie Jesse Gregory died on 27 August.

May this great man rest in peace.

Regards,Marcus Fielding

President Military History & Heritage Australia


Farewell good and trusted friend - Rex Williams

CDR Mackenzie Gregory RAN Rtd was my colleague, trusted friend and mentor.

To say that I will miss him in the years ahead is an understatement!

Jenny and I enjoyed Denise and Mac's company very much and extend our sincere sympathy to Denise upon the loss of her beloved husband.

We had the pleasure of meeting Mac's beautiful daughters and their families when we celebrated Mac's 89th birthday 3 years ago and felt privileged to be part of that special occasion.

To Denise, his son Raymond and daughters Jayne, Anne, Sue, and their families, we extend our heartfelt sympathy upon their loss.

On behalf of the Naval Historical Society of Australia I extend condolences to Mac's family.

We may never see his like again!              


Rex Williams


My tribute to Mac - John Shannon

As a 13 year old Mac Gregory left home and travelled to distant Jervis Bay to join the Royal Australian Navy...he did more than join the Navy...he gave his body and soul to the his distinguished Service and later his dedication to researching its history.

He became passionate about the idea of a permanent memorial to honour the Navy's role in of his lasts tasks was to commission a sculptor to create the monument....that will proceed  and it is planned to dedicate it in April 2015. 

It will not only honour the Navy, it will be a lasting legacy of a most inspiring RAN Lieutenant Commander (Retd).

I am ex RAAF and know little of the Navy. I met Mac when he was ADC to Governor General McKell.... I was Secretary of a Canberra Hockey Club and Mac approached me about joining the club.

My wife, Dorothy, and I became good friends of Mac and his wife, Gladys.

Mac and I had very different occupations, which kept us apart geographically and socially for years at a time. When we returned after five years in London, Mac and Gladys and two daughters were at Station Pier to greet us. Our relationship was immediately restored...the years apart were no more than a blink of an eye.

Many years passed without meeting...I had spent several more years overseas...but in 1995 Mac came to Canberra for our Golden Wedding.

In 2001 we moved to Sale in Victoria. Ever since, I watched Mac march with real pride, at the head of the Canberra/Shropshire contingent on Anzac Day. In more recent years he rode head of the contingent...for me the most striking aspect was when he waved to the crowds his face lit up with the enthusiasm and excitement of a dedicated 13 year old Cadet Midshipman...Mac's successor on Anzac Day has been set a high standard to follow.

Many of us in our lifetime meet outstanding gentlemen...Mac set the highest standard as a gentleman.

It has been an HONOUR and PLEASURE to be his friend,


John Shannon


Tribute: Vale - Lieutenant Commander Mackenzie ‘Mac’ Jesse Gregory, Royal Australian Navy (Retired)

Mac Gregory was born in Geelong on 9 February1922. His father was a member of the RAN based at Osborne House in Geelong and working with the J-Class Submarines. Mac joined the Royal Australian Naval College at HMAS Cerberus in January 1936 as a 13 year old Cadet Midshipman.

As World War II approached, in August 1939 he was sent to sea aboard HMAS Canberra and then HMAS Australia – the RAN’s County Class 8 inch cruisers. He served in Australia in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans as well as the Mediterranean Sea.

On board HMAS Australia – 12 October 1939

On leave in Melbourne in late 1941, at the age of 19 and following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour that brought the United States of America into the war, Mac became engaged to Gladys – a childhood friend.

In 1942 Mac witnessed the Japanese submarine attacks on Sydney Harbour. Later that year he was serving on board HMAS Canberra which formed part of a combined task group for the US - led recapture of Guadalcanal. He was Officer of the Watch when Canberra was attacked by Japanese warships in the opening salvos of the Battle of Savo Island on 9 August 1942.

He later relayed that “It was 1.43 a.m. when it all started. I could see six Japanese cruisers plus a destroyer 3,000 yards away blasting away at us with 8 inch guns and torpedos.” He remembers saying – “My God, this is bloody awful.” More than 80 Australian sailors died or were mortally wounded as Japanese shells slammed into the ship, which caught fire and was later scuttled. Clutching his Officer of the Watch issued binoculars he would lucidly tell the story some 70 years later and conclude with the reflection “I was very fortunate.”

Mac also witnessed more than 200 kamikaze attacks during World War II, but on 6 January 1945, one of the Japanese suicide planes was headed right for his ship. “I looked up into the sun and there was this plane flying toward us”, he later recalled. “We all flattened down on the deck and there was this big explosion. I was splashed and I thought it was fuel, but then I smelt it and realised it was saltwater. The kamikaze had been shot in half [by one of the ship's anti-aircraft gunners]; one half fell starboard and the other half fell portside. Once again we were very lucky.”

Mac was serving in HMAS Shropshire from where he witnessed the Japanese surrender at Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. Anchored off Yokohama, and with Shropshire assigned to ‘occupation duties’, Mac revelled in surviving the War by touring Tokyo and surrounds in a jeep he had acquired in exchange for two bottles of whiskey.

Mac and Gladys married in December 1945.

HMAS Shropshire Ship’s Company circa 1945

It was the German U-Boat menace that almost brought Britain to her knees in two world wars and immediately after the War, Mac completed the first combined Torpedo Anti-Submarine Specialist course in the UK with the Royal Navy.

Mac would later relate that:

“We spent time learning the tricks of our enemy, submerged in a submarine, back on the surface in an Escort ship, we learned how to hunt and kill them. It went on by day and on by night, we became very clever at finding contact with the supposed enemy sub, maintaining that contact as she tried to slip away, then to move in and sink the quarry with our ahead throwing weapons. We tried out tactics for convoy protection with a game on the tactical floor that went on over a week. You had to take all positions on, one day commanding an Escort, the next as the Convoy Commodore etc. The devastating arrival of a smiling WREN with the news ‘You are sunk, Sir! You will take no further part in this exercise’ was to be studiously avoided.”

With this new specialist qualification he served in the destroyers HMAS Warramunga and HMAS Bataan, as well as at Navy Office.

From 1950 to 1953 Mac was appointed Aide-de-Camp to His Excellency the Governor General of Australia – The Right Honourable William John McKell, GCMG – at Government House in Canberra.

Aide-de-Camp to His Excellency the Governor General of Australia, Canberra 1952

In his final posting, Mac served as the Fleet Torpedo Anti-Submarine Officer on the staff of the Flag Officer Commanding the Australian Fleet, in the aircraft carrier HMAS Vengeance. Vengeance escorted the Queen’s visit around Australia in 1954 and as part of that responsibility produced a Queen’s guard for ceremonial occasions. Mac commanded the Queen’s guard when she visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. In September 1954, after 20 years of service and at age 33, he resigned his commission.

After retirement from the RAN, Mac worked in the private sector for Rheem, Luxaflex and W.R. Grace. He then became a hospital administrator and later worked in the family business – Moorcroft Australia Pty Ltd.

He and Gladys raised their four children and Mac retained a keen interest in naval and military history. His wealth of naval knowledge and his network of contacts in the naval world were remarkable. His website – Ahoy – Mac’s Weblog – contains a wealth of valuable historical information. It is dedicated to all “Who went down to the sea in ships” in World War II in whatever capacity they may have served the cause of freedom, but especially to the 84 Officers and Men who died on board HMAS Canberra at the Battle of Savo Island on the 9th of August, 1942.

In 2001 Mac was invited to attend the ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the ANZUS Treaty in Washington D.C. On 10 September 2001 Mac was mentioned in both George W. Bush’s and John Howard’s speeches. After the ceremony John Howard invited the Mac and his second wife Denise to join him the next day to visit the grave of the only Australian serviceman buried in Arlington Cemetery.

Mac and Denise accepted the invitation and amended their travel arrangements. But the visit never went ahead as the al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington D.C. unfolded on the morning of 11 September 2001. Instead of going to the cemetery, Mr Howard was taking shelter in a cellar under the Australian embassy, while Mac and Denise were stuck in their hotel. “It was very frightening. Washington just went mad. There were fire trucks, police cars everywhere, FBI, CIA, helicopters chopping around overhead. It was mayhem.” Mac would later relay to a reporter.

The next day the Mac and Denise learned that the flight that they would have left Washington D.C. on was American Airlines Flight 77 which was crashed into the Pentagon without any survivors. “By inviting us to visit Arlington, John Howard had caused us to be pulled off that flight and he thus saved our lives.” Mac recalled. “It was an incredible experience. You couldn’t have any more luck than that.” Read more in "Ship's Bell and visiting Washington."

Mac’s life was rich in experiences, and his wisdom and grace were widely respected within many circles. As the Vice-President of Military History and Heritage Victoria, Mac was a tremendous supporter and magnificent ambassador for the organisation.

Mac Gregory died on 27 August 2014. In accordance with his express wishes there was no funeral and no memorial service. Mac was cremated on 1 September and his ashes were scattered from the end of Station Pier, Port Melbourne at high tide on 3 September in the presence of his immediate family.

Station Pier was a very special place for Mac as it was from there that he sailed out of Melbourne as a 17 year old Cadet Midshipman in 1939 to begin his seafaring adventures. After 20 years of effort Mac had also recently received news that a project he initiated to erect a statue of a sailor with his kitbag at the end of Station Pier in memory of the thousands of naval personnel who embarked there for service in WWII will be fully funded and would be realised.

Mac is now forever in his beloved sea, sailing with the tide. He is survived by his second wife, Denise and his children from his first marriage to Gladys, Jayne, Anne, Sue and Raymond as well as his grandchildren, Amelia, Rupert and Alexander.


Tribute: "Rewarding Friendship" from Terry Kearns, USA

Hello Raymond,

Thanks so much for writing.

I'm so sorry to hear about Mac. Working with him for the last 13 years has been one of the most rewarding things in my life. Though we never in person except via two phone calls, I consider him a close friend. I think we've published over a million words, I've read every one.

I've always intended to keep Ahoy going. I'm behind on my postings so I have more to publish. I've been a bit worried about not getting emails lately. But when I've been behind over the years, Mac always slowed it down a little, gave some breathing room. Very considerate I thought.

I want to publish anything y'all send, any obituaries, and I'm sure he'll get many emails from readers. He made so many remarkable connections through Ahoy. It's overwhelming.

Our friends the Janney's visited Mac a few years ago. Syd Janney come to my house today to tell me about meeting him in person.

I hope you and the family will stay in touch with me. I think Ahoy is still a living thing and that Mac is "in there," a legacy that still has much to give.

Some years ago, one of the Australian Museums or Libraries archived Ahoy - put it in their digital collections. I can't find it right now. We've added many articles since then. I hope that perhaps in a year or so, they can archive it one more.

(Update: Ahoy - Mac's web log: naval, maritime, australian history and more was selected for preservation by the Australian War Memorial. - TK)

My condolences to all of Mac's family and friends. I look forward to hearing from you.


Terry Kearns
Webmaster since 2001


A Tribute to Mackenzie Gregory from Sandy Nelson, Aotearoa, New Zealand

Mac helped me a tremendous amount with the research for my children’s book about HMAS Canberra and the Battle of Savo Island, entitled ‘The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound,’ and for the story I am currently working on entitled ‘The Lucky Ship,’ which is about HMAS Shropshire and the kamikazes. It was Mac who taught me that sailors live in ships, not on them, and so much more.

It was very special to me that I was able to dedicate my story to Mac, and to meet him and his wife Denise when my family and I visited Melbourne in 2011.

I have tremendous respect for Mac, for his career, his meticulous research, his dedication to ensuring the sacrifice of those who gave their lives is not forgotten, and for the help he has given so many, through his website, to put the lost pieces of their family jigsaws into place.

Mac once shared an old sailor’s saying “I wouldn’t be dead for quids.”

Some people should live forever.

Float free Mac, the horizon in the distance, there to ponder upon.

Sandy Nelson

Aotearoa New Zealand


Mac Gregory’s long held dream to erect a naval memorial to eventuate

Visitors to Ahoy will recall that many years ago Mac announced that he had founded the Naval Heritage Foundation of Australia Inc. with one of its purposes being to commission artists to create a statue to commemorate and symbolize all Naval personnel in Victoria. (See "Naval Heritage Foundation of Australia Inc. plans to erect a 7 foot six inch bronze statue off a WW2 Sailor in round rig."

Mac worked tirelessly for over twelve years to make his dream happen, incorporating the Foundation, setting up an Advisory Board with representatives from ex Naval personnel, the Shrine of Remembrance, local business and the legal profession, lobbying for support from all levels of government and industry, and applying for and being granted a planning permit to erect a bronze statue of a World War II sailor facing the water on the foreshore at Port Melbourne. Port Melbourne has long had a connection to the Royal Australian Navy and it is where HMAS Lonsdale had been situated, a fitting place as many Naval personnel departed from this point for war service. The statue is to be named ‘Answering the Call’.

Mac gained much community support for the concept, and received helpful financial contributions from private donors, and from some government and non-government bodies, but the Foundation had difficulty raising the total funds without it being granted Donor Gift Recipient status, which successive Federal Governments refused to do. Mac was not to be deterred and in November 2013 he applied to the present Federal Government for a Major Commemorative Grant. The grant was approved by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator Michael Ronaldson in March 2014.

Passionate about all things Naval right up to the end of his long and wonderful life, on 8 August 2014 Mac commissioned the renowned sculptor, Louis Laumen, to make the statue.

Louis Laumen has commenced work on the clay model and it is anticipated that the bronze statue will take approximately eight months to complete. Mac had hoped to unveil it in mid April 2015, prior to the Centenary of ANZAC.

The statue will not only be a legacy for the Navy, but it will also be a fitting legacy to a wonderful and inspirational individual.

Model for "Answering The Call " statue.
Model for "Answering The Call " statue.

15 inch bronze model of " Answering The Call " statue.
15 inch bronze model of " Answering The Call " statue.


Goodbye Mac - Mackenzie J. Gregory (9 February 1922  - 27 August 2014)

Mac Gregory’s family wishes to advise his many friends and legion of Ahoy followers that Mac died on August 27th, 2014. In accordance with Mac’s final wishes, he was cremated on September 1st and his ashes were scattered from the end of Station Pier, Port Melbourne at high tide on September 3rd in the presence of his immediate family.

In a coincidence that would not be lost on Mac and many of his loyal readers, September 1st marked the 75th Anniversary of the invasion of Poland by Germany and September 3rd, 1939 was the date that Britain and her Allies declared war.

From that moment, Station Pier was a very special place for Mac as it was from there that he sailed out of Melbourne as a 17 year old Cadet Midshipman in 1939 to begin his seafaring adventures and it was there that he wished to be scattered at the end of his long and wonderful life.

He is now forever in his beloved sea, sailing with the tide.

With the generous support of Mac’s webmaster Terry, it is the family’s intention to keep Ahoy open indefinitely so we can all continue to celebrate Mac’s extraordinary life and his website can continue to be enjoyed by all visitors.

Mac on his 92nd birthday, 9 February 2014

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