Obituary: Gp Capt Stuart Wilson-MacDonald

The Battle of Britain was fought nearly 46 years ago and the few who survived become fewer and fewer. Among them was Group Captain Stuart Wilson-MacDonald (he acquired the Wilson when he married his cousin Rosemary after the war).

Stuart Wilson-MacDonald survived not only the battle but a long series of combat tours, thereafter flying and commanding operationally until almost the end of the war. This five-year record was by no means unique among Second World War pilots, indeed it was not even all that unusual.

Initially Stuart MacDonald's prospects of a flying career were diminished by a series of boyhood illnesses, largely respiratory. However a period spent in Kenya probably contributed to his recovery, and by 1935 he was fit enough to win a short service commission in the RAF. Thereafter his time was spent almost exclusively on fighter aircraft and he was particularly associated with number 213 Squadron, which he led during the Battle of Britain, in the Middle East, and later had under overall command in the Balkan Air Force. Such close association with an individual squadron is rarely attained in the RAF, which for that reason has something to envy in the regimental system of the Army.

In September 1940, operating from Tangmere, the most geographically exposed of all front-line airfields, MacDonald led the squadron in the final hectic month of the Battle of Britain and proved himself not only an effective fighter pilot but an inspirational leader whose flew in combat more often than any other of his pilots. He personally destroyed at least three enemy aircraft while his own Hurricane was often severely damaged by enemy fire.

When the battle was complet-ed the squadron briefly moved north; but the demands of this still most critical period of the war led to its early return to intensive operations, this time in the Mediterranean theatre. MacDonald led the squadron to the Middle East by way of a transit aboard the aircraft carrier Furious, with a refuelling stop in beleaguered Malta.

After further action which included joining as a wing leader the unhappy campaign against the Vichy French in Syria and a brief spell on the air staff, he was once again back in the heat of the action as leader of 283 wing, which included his old friends 213 Squadron and also two South African squadrons.

As always he led the wing personally, this time largely in operations over the then Yugo-slavia, and learnt the problems and lessons of flying over that difficult and hostile terrain.

Only when the war in Italy and the Balkans finally ended was he given a rest from active service. He was also given a permanent commission and a number of command appointments in the British Air Forces of Occupation in Germany and senior staff appointments in Fighter Command. He retired in 1963.

Stuart Wilson-MacDonald was a big man in every sense of the word, big but never big-headed. Handsome and powerfully built, he exuded great bonhomie and a quiet charm. After the war he married and was as happy in that marriage as he always had been in the RAF.

Duncan Stuart MacDonald, pilot: born Oban, Scotland 5 March 1912; DFC 1940; DSO 1945; married 1947 Rosemary Wilson (one son, one daughter); died 29 February 1996.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue