Gunner Donald McKay ~
 Royal Artillery

Early in 2005 I received an eMail from Mr. Paul Saxton, a gentleman from Western Australia who was looking for any information which would link the journey his father took following the war from Japan to the U.S., possibly on on the Rangitiki.  It is known that the elder Mr. Saxton arrived back in Britain from New York on a vessel other than the 'Tiki, but the 'Tiki connection had not yet been made.

During his research, Mr. Saxton came across a package of documents regarding one Gunner D. McKay of Britain's Royal Artillery ~ a package including a photograph of the Rangitiki, a letter from the Publicity Department, a couple of menus and a wartime postcard from Japan.

Presented below are copies of these documents from which Gunner McKay's story can be deduced. 


The card shown above, dated 9 August 1944,  is Red Cross postcard that Gunner McKay was able to send home from Japan where, apparently, he was a Prisoner of War, to his mother  in September 1944 about a year before he sailed home aboard the Rangitiki.

My records show that this voyage had started from Liverpool late in July 1945, arrived in Wellington on VJ day (2 September), left the following day for Sydney, Australia and returned to Wellington on 16 September.  The ship finally left Wellington on 28 September 1945, and returned to England (London's Victoria Docks) on or around the 6 or 7 November 1945.

How and when Gunner McKay found his way to either New Zealand or Australia is not known to this writer at this time (late November 2005), but I shall most assuredly post such information on this aspect of Gunner McKay's story, or any other relevant information as it becomes available.

The card and Red Cross postcard and the other postcard showing the same picture as below are shown mounted on what appears to be a page from a photograph or philatelic album, with period handwritten notes.

Not shown here is a copy of the NZSCo Publicity Department's letter.



The daily menus from the first two days of the Voyage home for Gunner McKay.
Interesting to note that the ship is referred to S.S. Rangitiki, a common error in the years leading up to the war.


This is the photograph that was sent to Mr. William McKay, perhaps Gunner McKay's son, by the New Zealand Shipping Company's Leadenhall Street offices, presumably in response to Mr. McKay's request for a photograph of the ship that brought his father home from the war.
Upon close examination, it becomes clear that this is actually a photograph of a painting ~ perhaps itself copied from a photograph ~ depicting RMS Rangitiki in its later configuration in the English Channel.  Although the US Coastguard photograph from 1944 would be as the ship appeared when Gunner McKay sailed home, I'm sure that in his family's eyes, it was as elegant a vessel as appears in this picture.