Rank: Second Lieutenant
Frederick was born in Wellington on 25 July 1892. His parents were Arthur McKee and Martha Gore McKee. The family moved to Riwaka, by Motueka in 1903. Arthur McKee had opened up the “Apple-lands” in the Tasman area which became the heart of the apple growing horticultural industry in the Tasman District. The McKee Memorial Reserve at Ruby Bay is named after Arthur McKee.
Fred attended Motueka High School then finished his secondary education at Wellington College.
Frederick enlisted on 15 August. He was unmarried and worked for his father as a fruit farmer.
Fred commenced with an initial rank of sergeant, and his army serial number was 6/308. He served in the 12th (Nelson) Company, with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion, NZEF. He departed on the troopship Athenic on 16 October.
He saw action in the Dardanelles campaign, at Gallipoli, and The Nelson Mail recently printed extracts from his diary.
“Sunday April 25th. A perfect morning. Weighed anchor at 6.15am and moved out…One unending roar of guns is quite distinct now and fairly shakes the ship. The day is very warm and quite calm.”
He was in action on 7 May:
“It was a brilliant charge but costs us a lot of casualties, more than the landing did…It was here I got three bullets through my clothing and equipment”.
He was to suffer from dysentery on Gallipoli, as did many others. He was initially sent to hospital in May 1915 then returned before being fully fit, and finally on 20 July, he left for medical treatment in Egypt.
Fred served next on the Western Front in France in 1916. He wrote to his family on August 2, telling them that he was still in the land of the living. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant 1 March 1916.
He died at the First Battle of the Somme on 20 September 1916 attempting to take a strong German position. He is commemorated in the New Zealand memorial at Caterpillar Valley, by the village of Longueval, Somme, France. His grave remains unknown.
The McKee family eventually had three boys at war, Fred, Frank and Artie. Frank was wounded on the same day that Fred died. Both Frank and Artie survived the war.