Obituary: Gp Capt Stuart Wilson-MacDonald
Thursday 28 March 1996
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.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Germany sees 'visible rise' in support for far-right extremism in response to perceived 'Islamisation' of the West
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...
£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...