a local hero REMEMBERED

Concrete, metal and determination shaped into an outstanding tribute by George Swinton

the bravery of able seaman Albert McKenzie has finally been publicly memorialised with a stunning statue installed on Tower Bridge Road, near Bermondsey Square.

Made from some of the original concrete and metals from the Zeebrugge dockside, by blacksmith and sculptor Kevin Boys, the sterling efforts of Paul Keefe (Chairman of the Albert McKenzie Fund), Martin Fitzgerald and Ian Yates (Co-Chairmen of the Oxford and Bermondsey Club) have finally been rewarded.

Local Hero Albert McKenzie Statue Tower Bridge Road London
When plans and fundraising for the memorial first got underway, we met with the some of the local people pushing for it and covered the story in our first issue. That was over three years ago, way back in September 2012. Now, the continuous efforts of Paul, Martin and Ian have finally resulted in the unveiling of this thought-provoking tribute.

Albert was born in Bermondsey in 1898 and joined the Boys Service of the Royal Navy in 1913, at just 15 years old. In 1918 he volunteered for a mission to attack the Belgian port of Zeebrugge with the aim of blocking the canal entrance and preventing German ships from leaving.

Just after midnight on the 23 April 1918, St Georges Day, Captain Alfred Carpenter RN brought HMS Vindictive alongside the harbour wall known as ‘The Mole’. Young Albert, carrying a huge Lewis gun and 400 rounds of ammunition, engaged the German positions.

After a vicious battle, the troops were ordered to withdraw and, with his Lewis gun blown from his grasp, Albert fought his way back using his pistol, bayonet and bare hands. Badly wounded in the back and foot, he was eventually pulled to safety. Sadly, while recovering from his wounds in Chatham Naval Hospital, Albert contracted pneumonia and died on 3rd November 1918, aged just 20, one week before the Armistice.

Albert was the first London sailor to be awarded the VC, after being nominated by his comrades. With this permanent tribute now standing in Bermondsey, he will never be forgotten.

Local Hero Albert McKenzie Statue Tower Bridge Road London

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