Keith MacKINNON was interviewed by Margaret Dawson for the Busselton Oral History Group (Inc) on the 12th February, 2014. It is one of a series of recorded interviews with ex-service personnel funded by Lotterywest to celebrate the Anzac Centenary.
Keith was born in Perth in 1921. Keith’s father Charles Archibald MacKinnon and mother Rhoda Myrtle settled in Bridgetown.
Keith’s father was musical so Keith learnt to play the saxophone and played in dance bands in Bridgetown. He took his saxophone to North Borneo during World War II.
Keith left school at 16 and went to work for his mother’s brother who was a builder in Bridgetown. He studied book-keeping at night school.
In 1938, aged 17, by putting his age up one year he enlisted the 25th Machine Gun Regiment – A company. Then, in the 44th Battalion, he went to South Australia for officer training.
In June 1941, he got his call up for full time service as a reinforcement officer with the 2/32 Battalion which sailed for North Borneo on the 25thApril, 1945. They went to Moratai in the Philippines for training, then to Labuan Island off the coast near Kota Kinabulu. They took the island with very few casualties.
Keith, although not involved in the Sandakan Death March, talks about it and the number of men who died.
After the Japanese surrendered on the 2nd September, 1945 Keith sailed back to Australia on the Wanaka.
After leaving the army in 1946 Keith returned to live in Bridgetown. He became a registered builder and ran his own business.
Keith’s son Barry was born in October 1944 while Keith was in Queensland. He and wife Beryl (nee Mounsey) had three more children and they became involved in community activities, both in Bridgetown and then Dunsborough where they moved to live in 1974.
Keith has been a member of the RSL since 1946 and a Freemason since 1947.
Keith returned to Labuan Island with his two sons in 2011, as part of a Western Australian parliamentary group, to present computers to a school there.