Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

McKeddie, John Edwin (Jack) (1902–1980)

by Jolyon Horner

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

Jack McKeddie, c.1942

Jack McKeddie, c.1942

photo supplied by David Dunstan

John Edwin (Jack) McKeddie (1902-1980), army officer and stockbroker, was born on 25 November 1902 at Meeniyan, Victoria, youngest of six children of John McKeddie, a storekeeper who came from Scotland, and his Victorian-born wife Margaret Jane, née Witherden. Educated at Melbourne High School, Jack obtained employment in the Bank of New South Wales. In 1929 he entered the stockbroking firm of Eric J. Morgan. Having served in the Militia, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 25 May 1940 as a gunner. He was commissioned lieutenant on 15 October. Next day at the Cairns Memorial Church, East Melbourne, he married with Presbyterian forms Doris Muriel McFadyen (1896-1988), a saleswoman; they were to remain childless. For many years Doris was in charge of the fashion department of the Myer Emporium Ltd, travelling regularly to Paris, Berlin, Rome and New York.

In November 1940 McKeddie sailed for the Middle East with the 2/12th Field Regiment. Detached to headquarters, 9th Division, in January 1941, he was appointed aide-de-camp to Major General (Sir) Leslie Morshead in March and served with him during the siege of Tobruk, Libya, in April-October. McKeddie advised Morshead that the 2/12th Field Regiment was more suitable than the 2/7th to be sent to Tobruk as it had experience on the 60-pounder (27 kg) guns available there, and so the 2/12th became the only Australian field regiment to take part in the siege. Rejoining his unit in October 1941, McKeddie saw action at Tel el Eisa, Egypt, in July 1942 and at El Alamein in October-November, returning to Australia in February 1943.

After training in Queensland, the 2/12th reached Papua in August and from September was involved in the battles for Lae and Finschhafen, New Guinea. On 1 October McKeddie was forward observation officer with a company of the 2/13th Battalion during an attack near Kakakog. He won the Military Cross for 'coolness and devotion to duty' in bringing accurate fire on the enemy despite being under heavy fire from three sides. Next month he was with the 26th Brigade as it advanced towards Sattelberg. On the night of 2/3 December he was forward observation officer with the 2/23rd Battalion when it was heavily counter-attacked near Kuanko village. He occupied his observation post while under enfilade machine-gun fire and 'his efficient direction of fire was largely responsible for breaking up the enemy attack'. He was awarded a Bar to his M.C.

Following the pursuit of the Japanese to Sio, the 2/12th Field Regiment sailed to Australia in February 1944. McKeddie had been promoted captain that month. Having twice been in hospital with malaria, he was attached to headquarters, Royal Australian Artillery, 9th Division, from November to January 1945. He was posted to the Land Headquarters Tactical School, Beenleigh, Queensland, in February. Rejoining his unit in April, he reached Morotai in May. In May-August the 2/12th supported the 24th Brigade in operations on Labuan and in British North Borneo. He returned to Australia in September, transferring to the Reserve of Officers on the 19th.

On 8 November 1945 McKeddie bought a seat on the Stock Exchange of Melbourne and became a partner (senior partner 1952) of Eric J. Morgan & Co. Vice-president of his regimental association in 1947-51, he became a trustee of the association's Patriotic Relief Fund, a position he held until his death. He was a member of the Legacy Club of Melbourne from 1953 (president 1959), a member and trustee of the Rats of Tobruk Association and president of the Nurses Memorial Centre in 1966-71. In March 1971 he sold his seat on the stock exchange and retired.

Having rowed with Banks Rowing Club as a young man, McKeddie was patron of the Old Oarsmen's Association of Victoria, and a member of the Victorian Club and Amateur Sports Club. He belonged to the Atheneum and Naval and Military clubs; a Freemason, he was a foundation member of Lodge Henley. Survived by his wife, McKeddie died on 3 November 1980 at Prahran and was cremated. His estate was sworn for probate at $207,206.

Select Bibliography

  • D. Dexter, The New Guinea Offensives (Canb, 1961)
  • M. Parsons, Gunfire! (Melb, 1991)
  • B883, item VX17668 (National Archives of Australia)
  • PR84/122 (Australian War Memorial)
  • private information.

Citation details

Jolyon Horner, 'McKeddie, John Edwin (Jack) (1902–1980)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mckeddie-john-edwin-jack-13067/text23633, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 12 December 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

View the front pages for the Supplementary Volume

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2018

Jack McKeddie, c.1942

Jack McKeddie, c.1942

photo supplied by David Dunstan