Joseph Mackenzie was born in Lairg, eldest son of John and Henrietta Mackenzie of “Woodlands”, Lairg, Sutherland. He emigrated to New Zealand with his two brothers Donald and James; they lived and worked in the Waikaito district of Auckland. He enlisted alongside his brothers into the New Zealand Armed Forces at the outbreak of the war, joining the local district Regiment, the 2 Battalion, Auckland “Waikaito” Regiment.
The 2 Auckland Regiment fought at Gallipoli in 1915, landing on the beaches and entering into the heavy fighting against the fierce Turkish Army. The New Zealanders took heavy casualties as they made repeated frontal attacks on the Turkish lines, trying in vain to break through.
In December 1915, the 2 Auckland Regiment was withdrawn from A.N.Z.A.C. Cove, Gallipoli to Lemnos Island in Greece, then via Egypt they arrived in France. The New Zealand Division took part in the great offensive on the Somme, which the British Generals hoped would end the war.
On the 7 of June 1917, the 2 Auckland Regiment fought at Messines Ridge to the South of Ypres, then becoming involved in the Third Battle of Ypres in October. On the 4 of October, the ANZAC’s attacked the village of Broodseide along side the 3 Australian Division.
On the 28 of March 1918, the New Zealand Division helped to stem the German attacks on Arras, as the enemy launched its final assaults of the war. In April, they fought on the old Somme Battlefield near the river Ancre close to Beaumont Hamel as the British Army with its back to the wall, fought to hold the massive German attacks that were taking place. The British Army launched a counter-attack over the old Somme battlefields on the 21st of August 1918, which proved to be the beginning of the end for the German Forces on the Western Front. The Germans could sustain heavy losses no longer and were forced to retreat; the Allies now pressed home the attack sweeping the enemy before them. Private Joseph Mackenzie was killed in action on the 1 of September 1918, aged thirty-six, as his Battalion attacked the German held village of Bancourt to the East of Bapaume. He was the third son from the Mackenzie family to be killed in the First World War, his sister Isabella also died, his brother Donald was seriously wounded, but survived.