Percy Alec MacKenzie
October 05, 1918, Canterbury, Kent
January 01, 1989, Rye, Sussex, (aged 70y 88d)
Right hand Bat
Born in Canterbury in 1918, Percy Alec Mackenzie was a member of the Hampshire groundstaff at the close of the 1939 season. By February 1943 he was a twice-decorated squadron leader in the RAF, almost certainly the first professional cricketer to be awarded the Distinguished Service Order.
Educated at the Cathedral Choir School, he was coached by Miss Felicity Hardcastle, a member of the Kent ladies' team. He was taken onto the groundstaff on the recommendation of C. S. Marriott, who had seen him bowling on the St Lawrence ground with a tennis ball. Played mainly as a legspin bowler, he was not re-engaged at the end of the 1935 season. The following year he joined Hampshire, becoming fully qualified for them towards the end of the 1938 season, on one occasion batting stubbornly for over two hours for 11 and almost saving the match. In 1939 he scored nearly 600 runs, with innings of 76 against Lancashire and 58 in a second-wicket partnership of 157 against Notts at Trent Bridge with D. F. Walker (who later became a war casualty). Undoubtedly his best innings was 51, out of 116, against Yorkshire with Verity at his best.
Joining the RAFVR, he obtained his pilot's wings as a sergeant late in 1940. Commissioned as a pilot officer, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in May 1942. "Pilot Officer Mackenzie, who is in the RAFVR, has completed many sorties first as a navigator and later as captain against heavily defended targets which have included Hamburg, Kiel and Essen. On all occasions, often in very bad weather with intense enemy opposition, by his determined efforts and skilful airmanship he has located and bombed all his targets successfully" (London Gazette May 26, 1942).
Promoted to flight lieutenant in October, he was awarded an immediate DSO early in 1943 for bringing home a disabled Lancaster after a raid on Berlin. "Since being awarded the DFC, Acting Flight Lieutenant Mackenzie has participated in numerous successful sorties. One night in Jan 1943 he piloted an aircraft detailed to attack Berlin. Whilst crossing the coast on his homeward flight his aircraft was subjected to heavy and accurate anti-aircraft fire. Two of his aircraft's engines were damaged and rendered unserviceable. Height was lost but, although faced with a 300-mile flight over the sea, Flight Lieutenant Mackenzie continued his homeward journey. When halfway across the water a third engine became overheated. The aircraft was now down to 600 feet and the situation appeared hopeless, but Flight Lieutenant Mackenzie, displaying grim determination, flew on at this height and eventually reached this country where he landed his damaged aircraft. By his high courage and superb skill, this officer was undoubtedly responsible for the safe return of his aircraft and its crew" (LG Feb 23, 1943). Shortly afterwards, having completed two operational tours, he was promoted to squadron leader and posted to instructor duties.
The war over, he did not return to Hampshire but took up other employment,
flying civilian aircraft, although he did turn out for Berkshire. During his brief first-class career he scored 652 runs and took 17 wickets. He went on to become a flight director with British Caledonian, retiring in 1985.
Wisden Cricket Monthly
Batting & Fielding