3 Squadron IMAGES

3 Squadron POEMS

3 Squadron RAAF HOME / Search

Fred and Meg McKay Peace Garden

This tranquil garden at St Philip's College in Alice Springs, Central Australia, commemorates the life of our beloved Padre, the Rev. Fred McKay, who died on 31 March 2000. 
By its very name, the garden also pays deserved tribute to his extraordinary wife, Meg, who herself sacrificed so much to help others. 


Fred and Meg McKay Peace Garden

Fred is also commemorated in the Fred McKay Museum at St Philip's College and the historic chapels at Richmond RAAF Base have been named in his honour.

"OUR FRED...85"

Poem by Tom Russell.

OUR FRED HAS BEEN A-MINISTERING
FOR ALMOST SIXTY YEARS.
HE'S HELPED MANY WITH THEIR PROBLEMS;
SHARED THEIR LAUGHTER AND THEIR TEARS.

WE FIRST MET HIM IN THE DESERT,
WITH TWO OTHERS OF HIS KIND,
WHEN WE NEEDED A TALK, OR A COMFORTING WORD,
THEY WERE NEVER FAR BEHIND.

MANY TIMES HE HAS BEEN HONOURED,
BY HIS NATION AND HIS PEERS.
AND MEG HAS BEEN HIS PARTNER,
THROUGH ALL THOSE SHARING YEARS.

NOW TIME IS PASSING BY,
MEG'S STILL THERE AT HIS SIDE.
AND HE KNOWS HE'S STILL "OUR PADRE"
EVEN THOUGH HE'S...

EIGHTY FIVE!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FRED.

 


The Rev. Fred McKay using a pedal-powered radio in 1937. 
(See our Flying Doctor story.)

Fred was one of the Three Padres who served the Squadron during WW2. 
His very interesting story is told in detail in his Australian War Memorial Interview.

Fred's biographer, Maisie McKenzie, wrote of him:
It was a daunting prospect to write the life story of Fred McKay.  His achievements were well-documented, but what about the man behind the achievements?  His vocational career and his World War 2 experiences revealed his strong character, outstanding leadership qualities (a perfectionist down to the last dotted "i", a superb diplomat, a man who took careful time to make a difficult decision but then committed himself fully to carrying it out, a man who believed he was right, who had an incredibly high energy level); his capacity to work successfully with Government departments and leaders of industry, to minister to some of Australia's prominent political and social decision-makers, yet someone who was equally at home in a miners' camp, a shearing shed, a cattle muster.

Some more notable tributes:

"We are grateful to think that we have been so fortunate as to make such a great and understanding friend."
- Sir Robert Menzies
, P.C., K.T., C.H., Q.C.  Australia's longest-serving Prime Minister.

"There are some people one meets in the course of a lifetime who make an indelible impression on you.  Such a person was Fred McKay."
- Sir Charles Court, A.K., K.C.M.G., O.B.E.  former Premier of Western Australia.

"The Rev. I most admire in Australia."
- Sir James Balderstone, former Chairman, Broken Hill Pty. Ltd.

"If you do [my funeral], for goodness sake be down to earth.  However there's no need to advise you, your own example is enough."
- Sir Hudson Fysh, K.B.E., D.F.C.  Founder and Chairman of Qantas.
 

Click here for an example of one of Fred's much-appreciated letters from the war front to the "home folks".

Testimonial given to returning servicemen:

 
"The bearer has served in the Middle East with the RAAF and we are glad to introduce him to his church at home."
- With Signatures of the Three Padres

1913 - “THE COVENANT”

 The pain was too much for the small boy.  He ran into the farm dairy to hide.  He had done this before when the pain had come on, because he didn't want anyone to see him crying.  But this time was different.  He could hide it no longer.  His limbs and body were swollen, the pain excruciating.  He cried out.  

His mother took one look at him and laid him down.  This was no ordinary childish sickness that she could cure with her farm remedies.  She called her cane-farming husband.  He too knew at once that this was serious, but the nearest doctor and hospital were 12 miles away, in the town of Mackay, Queensland.

Wasting no time, he harnessed the horse to the family spring cart, got out his wife's ironing board, strapped the child on it so that he could lie flat, lifted it onto the vehicle, and off they went - mother, father and sick child.

At the hospital, Dr. Williams examined the boy and shook his head.  “The appendix has burst,” he said, “He now has peritonitis.  I'm afraid it's too late for surgery...”

The mother and father were devastated and pleaded with the doctor to do what he could.  Reluctantly he agreed, more to appease the parents than with any confidence in a successful outcome.  Complicated surgery in 1913 was pretty much a risky and rugged affair.

The child was aware of the quick preparations and of the Matron rushing to and fro.  Then, through it all, he felt his mother lean over his bed and say, “God, if you let my boy live, I will make him a Minister for you.”  

To the amazement of all, except the mother, the operation was an ungainly success.  The boy managed to pull through with deep draining tubes and an awesome, stitched-up wound.

Forever after that day, the mother lived with the certainty that she would carry out her part of the Covenant that she had made with God.  As for the boy, although he was only six years old at the time, he knew without any doubt, that one day he would be a Minister.

His name was Fred McKay

Extract from the book “Fred McKay : Successor to Flynn of the Inland” by Maisie McKenzie. 

3 Squadron IMAGES

3 Squadron POEMS

3 Squadron RAAF HOME / Search