Macdonald, Roderick Daniel (Flight Sergeant, b.1908-d.1942)


Collection relating to the Second World War service of 405080 Flight Sergeant Roderick Daniel Macdonald, No. 37 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Australia, at sea, England, and North Africa, 1941-1942.

Folder 1: Consists of one diary, with entries dated between 6 October 1941 and 5 September 1942.

In his diary, Flight Sergeant Macdonald records his daily experiences of service as a wireless radio operator. Some of these experiences include preparing for embarkation at Bradfield Park, Sydney, embarking on the SS Ceramic from Sydney Harbour, and travelling to England via New Zealand, Panama, and Canada. While on board the ship, he records his impressions of the locations they stopped at, activities he took part in, and events such as being inspected by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, sightseeing while ashore, playing bridge, being in charge of one of the gun crews, attending a concert, feeling homesick, observing Armistice Day, hearing that the HMAS Sydney was sunk, being short on drinking water, forgetting his roll during parade, being caught in a severe storm, and hearing the Japan and America had entered the war.

After disembarking in England, Macdonald goes on to record his experiences of training in England. Some of these experiences include settling at the Royal Air Force station at Bournemouth, feeling lonely because he didn’t receive any mail from home, missing his wife, receiving an Australian Comforts Fund hamper on Christmas Day, feeling anxious about the state of the war in the East, being on leave, going to lectures and completing exams, having a bad cold, being posted to Cranwell Wireless School, hearing about the Fall of Singapore in February 1942, spending the night in a police station, having a lack of hot water and soap for bathing, being posted to Moreton-in-Marsh, being so cold he couldn’t properly operate the equipment while in flight, being assigned to a crew, celebrating Anzac Day in London, getting frustrated with the lack of organisation within the Royal Air Force, seeing several fatal training accidents, doing many training flights, taking messages for wives and sweethearts of men about to fly out on operations, air raids, and preparing to be posted to North Africa.

On 15 July 1942, Macdonald left England, flying to Egypt via Gibraltar. In his diary, he records details of the journey, arriving at the base of 37 Squadron, going on an unsanctioned visit to Tel Aviv, a fatal take-off accident involving members of his crew, doing regular bombing runs to Tobruk to disrupt shipping, flying amidst large quantities of flak, missing his wife, a serious runway accident involving several aircraft, parading for Winston Churchill, and taking an excellent photo of Tobruk from the air. In his last entry, dated 5 September 1942, he mentions seeing an artillery duel between enemy artillery and their own, with spectacular shell-bursts, and having a rest day in which he read and wrote to his wife.

Flight Sergeant Macdonald died in a flying battle on 7 September 1942.

Folder 2: Consists of two letters from Flight Sergeant Macdonald to his brother, Hector Neil Macdonald.

In his letter dated 15 April 1941, Macdonald shares about his training at Parkes, exams in radio theory, compulsory sport, regular personal training, and a challenging upcoming test.

In his letter dated 12 November 1941, Macdonald discusses his experiences of being at sea, censorship, ill-feelings towards officers (who had better food and living arrangements), and his companions. He also sends his regards to his family in Australia.