Northern Territory Government

Roll of Honour

MacKAY, William

Hospital Ship Manunda

Hospital ship Manunda immediately before the bombing on 19 February 1942. A lifeboat from sinking SS Zealandia approaches Manunda.


William MacKay was a member of the Australian Merchant Navy and worked as a Greaser on the Australian Hospital Ship Manunda. He was born in 1881 in Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland and was married to Marion Cunningham Mackay of Strathfield, New South Wales.

HMAHS Manunda was anchored in Darwin Harbour near the merchant ship Zealandia and the oil tanker British Motorist when it was first hit by shrapnel and then a bomb during the first Japanese air attack on Darwin, 19 February 1942. Twelve members of the crew and hospital staff were killed and forty-seven others were wounded, including William MacKay. The medical and nursing staff quarters were destroyed, B and C decks were severely damaged and fires started on board. Despite the chaos, Manunda continued to treat incoming wounded and staff manned the life-boats rescuing injured men from the sea.

William MacKay was sixty years old and died at sea four days after sustaining injuries during the Japanese air attack. He died at 17:15 on 23 February 1942 aboard the Hospital ship Manunda, and was buried at sea at 10:00 am the following day at lat. 21°30’ S. Long 113° 26’ E.

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