MACDONALD, Allan William
(Service number N/N)
|First Rank||Royal Air Force Cadet||Last Rank||2nd Lieutenant|
|Date||9 September 1894||Place of Birth||Geraldine, Canterbury|
|Date||20 September 1917||Age||23|
|Address at Enlistment||Glenlee Station, Blenheim|
|Previous Military Experience||Cadets Christ's College; Ashburton Territorials; Marlborough Mounted Rifles|
|Next of Kin||Mr Donald Macdonald (father), Glenlee Station, Blenheim|
|Medical Information||5 foot 3 inches tall, weight 133 [pounds (60kgs), chest 31-34 inches, fair complexion, blue eyes, black hair|
|Served with||UK Armed Forces||Served in||Royal Flying Corps|
|Body on Embarkation||NZ Expeditionary Force|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||Royal Flying Corps|
|Date||31 December 1917|
|Transport||HMNZT 99 Athenic|
|Embarked From||Wellington, N.Z.||Destination||Glasgow, Scotland|
|Other Units Served With||1TDS Wittering, Stamford, England|
|Last Unit Served With||Royal Air Force|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
|Date||11 November 1918||Age||24 years|
|Place of Death||Stamford, Lincolnshire, England|
|Notices||18 November 1918, Sun|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Stamford Cemetery, Lincolnshire, England|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Allan, second of nine children of Donald and Agnes Margaret (nee Glanville) Macdonald, was born at Geraldine on 9 September 1894. His father Donald was born at Hinds in 1864, and was farming at Woodbury when Allan was born. He later farmed at “New Park Farm”, Allenton, which was a part of the original Longbeach Estate, but in August 1912 exchanged this property for Mr Shipley’s “Glenlee Station” at Blenheim which was running about 10,000 sheep on 14,000 acres of freehold and 16,000 acres of leasehold land. About 1914 he moved to Christchurch, and later sold this property to Mr FG Warring in 1919. Donald died in Christchurch on 14 January 1956, and is buried in the Omaka Cemetery, Blenheim. Allan’s mother Agnes was born at Woodbury near Geraldine on 30 April 1874, and married Donald at Woodbury on 9 January 1893. She died at Christchurch on 10 August 1954, and is also buried in the Omaka Cemetery, Blenheim, next to husband Donald.
Allan was educated at the Elmwood and Saint Albans schools, and attended Christ College Grammar School from 1909 to 1911. He had taken a keen interest in the military, having been bugler at Christ’s College, sergeant in the Ashburton Territorial’s, and sergeant-major in the Marlborough Mounted Rifles. From about April 1915, he managed his father’s “Glenlee Station” after the manager Mr T. Leighton enlisted for war service. Allan first enlisted at Christchurch about May 1917, but had been rejected because of high blood pressure. He was later called up in the ballot, passing as Class A at Blenheim. He immediately applied for a transfer to the Sockburn Aviation School where he was accepted with effect from 20 September 1917. His enlistment papers described him as being aged 23 years, single, 5 foot 3 inches tall, weighing 133 pounds (60kgs), with achest measuring 31-34 inches, having a fair complexion, blue eyes, black hair, and being of the Presbyterian faith. His father Donald of Glenlee Station, Blenheim, was nominated as his next of kin.
The Canterbury (NZ) Aviation Company at Sockburn (ex-Wigram) aerodrome near Christchurch, had been established by the aviation visionary Henry Wigram in 1916. Training took place on Caudron biplanes from August 1917, and 170 pilots had graduated by the Armistice in 1918. 150 of these Sockburn pilots sailed for Britain as cadets temporarily attached to the NZEF, but only a handful got to fly operationally. On 22 November 1917, Allan was the sixteenth pupil to qualify for the Royal Aero Club’s certificate (number 5629), and his examiner Lieutenant-Colonel Sleeman said he had made clever flights in all his tests, and showed sound judgement in all his landings. So, on 31 December 1917, Cadet A.W. Macdonald sailed from Wellington on HMNZT 99 “Athenic”, arriving at Glasgow, Scotland, on 25 February 1918. On board with him was the 25th Reinforcements Maori Contingent.
Immediately on arrival he would have been posted to Number 1 Cadet Wing at Shorncliffe where he would have received basic military training during a two month course. This course included drill, physical training, military law, map reading and signalling using Morse code. During this period on 1 April 1918, the RFC and the Royal Naval Air Service combined to make the Royal Air Force (RAF). About April 1918 Allan moved to the School of Military Aeronautics at Reading where he began a more in-depth three month course on aviation theory, navigation, map reading, wireless signalling, photography and artillery and infantry co-operation. This course also covered the working of aero engines, instruments and basic rigging. On 14 June 1918 Cadet Macdonald was promoted to Second Lieutenant, and was posted to Number 1 Training Depot Station at RAF Wittering. Here he received dual and solo training over the next three months on many different types of aircraft including DH6, BE2E, BE2D, RE8, DH9 and Avro.
As he showed a special aptitude for flying, he was made an instructor, and it was in this capacity that he was fatally injured in an accident on 11 November 1918 (Peace Day). On this day he had flown from 1TDS Wittering, Stamford in the early morning with student pilot Flying Cadet Spurrier, in an Avro E3110 130HP Alargot. After landing at 5TDS Easton Aerodrome, Stamford had to have some mechanical repairs made to this aircraft, they took off again at 1325 hrs. Shortly after take-off and reaching a height of approximately 50 feet, the aircraft made a turn to the left, when the nose suddenly dropped, causing the plane to strike the ground. Second Lieutenant Macdonald was killed instantly and student Spurrier received cuts to the head and a concussion. The accident enquiry verdict was “accident caused by the machine stalling on a climbing turn, dive, wind, and owing to insufficient height, recovery from a resulting nosedive was impossible.”
Allan had been a popular airman, being of a genial and kindly disposition, and his death was mourned by a wide circle of friends. He received a large military funeral, and was buried on 15 November 1918, in the Stamford Cemetery, Lincolnshire, England, grave reference H.N.18.
Three of Allan’s brothers also enlisted for war service: 7/2096 Bdr Donald Leslie Macdonald who served with the New Zealand Field Artillery in France; Second Lieutenant Ronald Glanville Macdonald who also enlisted with the Royal Air Force and served in England; and younger brother Alexander Bruce Macdonald who enlisted on becoming of military age but was not required due to the cessation of hostilities. Two cousins also served: Allan Farquhar Macdonald and Reginald Orton Macdonald.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [July 2019]; New Zealand War Graves Project at https://www.nzwargraves.org.nz/casualties/allan-william-macdonald; "Roll of honour" in Sun 18 November 1918, "Personals" column in Sun 19 November 1918, "Personals" column in Marlborough Express 15 February 1919, "Personal items" in Dominion 14 February 1919, "Roll of Honour" in Press 11 November 1920, and ":A good flying day" Star 10 August 1918, courtesy of Papers Past at https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ ; "New Zealanders in the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Air Force, Royal Naval Air Service and Australian Flying Corps, World War One" and "New Zealand World War One Air War deaths" on https://www.sooty.nz/ (July 2019); NZ Defence Force Personnel Records, Archives NZ (July 2019)
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Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG; Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG
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