Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

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Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

CART Web Monitor
Administrator
Hi there,

We are looking into Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE connected with the Auxiliary Units or Coleshill and possible training later in the war in Sussex.

I have had a call from his daughter Pamela Pleydell-Bouverie who spent most of her life in Coleshill and lived in Coleshill House just before it burnt down. Bill Mac Donald is her father and he was awarded a knighthood which he refused. To this day she does not know what he was awarded it for.

We need to dig deep and see if we can help her learn more about her late father....I have checked the his name on Google, in the back of "The Last Ditch" and also our Aux database and have come up with nothing....

She is posting me more info on him that might help us dig deeper.
Kind Regards,

CART Team
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

CART Web Monitor
Administrator
Matthew Gibbs has responded with this info

Lt.Col. from the letters after his name, was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire. This was easy enough to trace as its a high-ish empire award and I am interested in these things anyway. His CIE is listed as a Police Honour, so I suspect after his army career he went out to India and joined the Colonial Police. He must have had quite a high rank. His CIE is from the Kings Birthday Honours list for 1927. Actually I have just realised from some acronyms in the list he was Inspector General of Police in Burma. This was a Quasi-Military role in pre 1937 Burma, which was directly controlled at that time from the Indian Government and seperated in 1937. There were 9 Battalions of Burma Military Police controlled by the IGP to crack down on crime, border raiders, headhunting tribes etc.
 
He is NOT listed as an active British Army officer in my July 1939 Army List of officers so he must have retired before then, and either been on the reserve of officers, or possibly on the Indian Army Reserve, which is a different, and much rarer publication. I am trying to get one at the moment. If she knows her father was in India or Burma in the pre-war years when you get in touch with her would check, because this will help me immensely with the research. I have found a promotion list for the 36th Sikh Regiment [which would have had all white senior officers] and there is a Roderick William MacDonald listed as being promoted from Lt to Capt. in 1909. This seems a little early, but maybe not depending on when she was born, since her husband was born in 1914 it might not be way out.
Kind Regards,

CART Team
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

CART Web Monitor
Administrator
Martin Kender and Tim Wray offered this info

He was offered the Knight Commander of the Indian Empire for his services to Burma but declined it.  He was already a companion.  As India (and presumably Burma) had recieved independence lots of people refused to accept Indian orders! Her husband is the Earl of Radnor and his father did command the Wiltshire Hussars under Allenby.  Her mother was Evelyn Crighton who was herself a wellesley and the great or great great grand daughter of the Duke of Wellington!....She is also related to Darwin, Tennison, Watts, wedgewood, Bulwat lytton and just about anyone who might have heard of from the 19th century glitterati.  None of which finds her father.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Necrothesp/Honours_Lists/Police_Honours Found this...still looking for more
Kind Regards,

CART Team
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

CART Web Monitor
Administrator
Bill Ashby suggests that Pamela trys to obtain her fathers service record. She will need to provide her father’s - Service Number, Rank, Full name, Date of birth and Regiment.
More information and an application form can be found at
http://www.veterans-uk.info/service_records/army.html 

If she needs any more help with this Bill is pleased to help.
Kind Regards,

CART Team
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

Bill A
Another thought - if we know when the Colonel died we could search for an Obituary - that should help fill in a  few unknowns.
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

Matt Gibbs
Good one Bill. If anyone has a subscription to the Times Archive Online then they could search for it, but I don't anymore. Its actually a very useful tool but as all these things have a cost one has to pick and choose!

Might I ask where the info came from that he turned down the KCIE..? If the suspiscion is that he turned it down after the independance of India then it must be pre 1948. Burma also became the Union of Myanmar on 1st January 1948.

I hopefully will have an answer on his DSO tomorrow. [If I am lucky!] - Interesting chap and career path. There is a mention in 'The Rotarian' that he was a founder member of the Rangoon Rotary club in 1929 as well, just to add to the biog.

More when I have it...

Matt



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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

Matt Gibbs
Indeed, there is more. [probably lots but here is some for now]

His entry in the Indian Army Jan 1930 War Services list:

MacDonald, R. W., Lt-Col Supernumery List
The War of 1914-21 - Despatches and DSO.

Also:
Appointed to the Burma Police 23rd Dec 1904 and permantly transferred to the Supernumery List for civil employment (ie the Burma police) 23rd Dec 1914. He temporaily reverted to military service durung WW1 - at the end of 1918 he was serving with 2/70th Burma Rifles.

His DSO was gazetted in 1916 when he was a Captain, serving as Temporary Major with a Sikh Regiment Indian Army. [I have a copy of the Gazette page now] His award is under the heading of "War Office, 22nd December, 1916.
His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the undermentioned Honours and Rewards for distinguished service in the Field in Mesopotamia, with effect from 3rd June, 1916, inclusive". I had a hunch it would be for NWF service or Mesopotamia so I was glad my thinking was borne out by the facts.
The fellow research enthusiast I knew would hopefully help dig up the info reasoned that his DSO  might have been the case that he was recommended and approved for the Award for the Birthday Honours List but then someone realised that they had not been mentioned in despatches (which was a pre-requisite for the award of the DSO) so they were held in abeyance till the mention could be announced. As it does not have a specific gallantry citation for an immediate award then I would agree with his thinking.

Hope this helps to add to the picture. Now I shall look into the Sikh Regiments which were sent to Mesopotamia and also the 70th Burma Rifles.

Regards
Matt
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

CART Web Monitor
Administrator
I have just had another chat with Pamela and explained what we have found out so far.

She has also revealed that her father may have lead the Essex Home Guard during the war and he was friends with Andrew Croft the explorer.

They also moved to Sussex for no real reason so there may be a connection with the Aux units there.

She is going to try an obtain ehr fathers service record with the help of Bill Ashby.

I think we should now try and focus on what he did during the war as she seems fairly aware of his role in India.

Lets see if we can fill in the gaps.
Kind Regards,

CART Team
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

Matt Gibbs
Hello Tom;
Buy a copy of the reprint book called Home Guard List 1941 Eastern Command, which contains the list of officers for Essex Home Guard. He will be in there if her hunch about his work with them is correct. You might get it in the library but that information is not available anywhere online and I don't have a copy myself.
Auxunit training was pretty secret as will be obvious to anyone on this forum I should think. Hence we haven't seen in John Warwickers books even a nominal list of the training staff officers at Coleshill.
I'm puzzled as to why having spent most of her life at Coleshill until the fire, as in your first post, she can't remember if her dad was with her - it would seem to me pretty easy to remember!
I assume she didn't tell you about her fathers earlier career in India which she is familiar with in your first contact.
She will have to fill in the relevant paperwork forms as Bill mentions, to the Army Record Office, with proof of his death and testifying she is the official last next of kin in order to get his records. If she asks for it as a "Freedom of Information Act" request she should get a good, if slow response and it costs nothing.
I have no idea, without going to the PRO to look in the various "miscellaneous" paperwork files attributed to the Aux Units, where you will find any more information to help her. Unless someone who already has copies of the various files can help? Perhaps a possible project for CART members will be to pool such resources and maybe start a "library by mail" which members can ask for information from? I'd happily administer such a thing, and make my own Home Guard and Aux Units books available for searching.
Regards
Matt
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

Bill A
In reply to this post by CART Web Monitor
To add to the other replies My findings so far are as follows:

NOTES 

LIEUT.-COL. RODERICK WILLIAM: I.A., C.I.E., 1927; Inspector-General of Police, Burma, since 1923; b. 1881; educ., Inverness College; Commissioner of Police, Rangoon, 1921-23; King's Police Medal.

Royal Military College Sandhurst 1898-1900 Commissioned 28/7/1900
36th Sikh Regiment, Malakand
Seconded to the Burma Police
28 July 1909 – Promoted Captain – 36 Sikhs
1910 returned to UK on “Warwickshire” Departed Rangoon arriving London 6 May 1910
WW1 -1914-1919 Reverted to military duties with 36 Sikhs – Mesopotamia 1916-1919. Despatches and awarded DSO.
1919 Reverted to Burma Police
1919-1923 Commissioner of Police.  Kings Police Medal
1922 returned to UK as Major on board “Dorsetshire” Departed Rangoon arriving on London 17 Sept 1922. Travelling with Mrs Hilda Gertrude MacDonald.
1923-32 Inspector General of Police, Burma, Retired

His full Service Record with the Indian Army is held at the British Library (Asia) and I am arranging to get a copy for the Colonels daughter.

His WW2 Service Record cannot be obtained until I can find his SERVICE No.
This all I know so far:

WW2 - Re-employed H.M. Army
Aug 1939 Group Commander, Pioneer Corps.  [possibly Clacton-on-Sea, Essex Area]
1941 7th Essex Bn Home Guard.
Awarded:
1926 Kings Police Medal
1930-32   Indian General Service Medal (Burma Clasp)
1939-1945 Defence Medal,  &  War Medal.

Lt Col MacDonald died on 7 May 1959 and was cremated at Colchester - No Obituarys found  

At the beginning of WW2  Lt Col MacDonald was a Group Commander with the Pioneer Corps.  It is believed that he was overseeing work at Butlins Holiday Camp, Clacton-on-sea    preparing it to take POW’s.  He requisitioned nearby St Monica’s School (His daughters school) to billet his troops.
In 1941 he was connected to 7th Essex Bn, Home Guard.

The Aux Unit connection may still exist
His daughter recalls that their home near Great Braxted had large large timber huts close by.  She says that they were quite secret, used by the army and her father. Was this the Home Guard connection? Sometime in the early 1940’s he was based in Sussex in a house supplied by the War Office. His daughter spent some time with her father.
What unit was he with here?

HIS WW2 SERVICE RECORD SHOULD ANSWER SOME OF THESE UNKNOWNS -  THE SEARCH GOES ON - HIS SERVICE NUMBER IS THE KEY
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

CART Web Monitor
Administrator
Bill Ashby's final report on this can now be seen on our secret members page.

There is still no link to the Aux Units.
Kind Regards,

CART Team
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

Chris Wright
Hi,
 If at all possible, could you please pass on my interest in Roderick William MacDonald to his daughter. If his parents were Malcolm Neil MacDonald and Louisa Ethel Wright, then I would love to get in touch. My ancestor was Louisa's brother, Alfred Cecil Wright who was a minister and went to New Zealand.

Kindest Regards,
Chris Wright

carlaandchris@xtra.co.nz
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

Bill A
Sorry Chris this may not be what you want to read:

Roderick William MacDonald....

Born 22 April 1881; 3rd son of Malcolm Neil Macdonald of Tormore, Sleat, Isle of Skye;

m 1911, Hilda Gertrude Jones; one d (adopted); he died 7 May 1959

We wish you luck in your search

If we can be of further assistance just ask

Bill
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

Chris Wright
Hi Bill,
Yes it is the right family. Even thought she is adopted could you please pass on my interest if possible. Thank you so much.
Chris
carlaandchris@xtra.co.nz
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

Bill Ashby
Your request has been forwarded and acknowledged by Pru (the Colonels Grandaughter).  She will pass it on to her mother.  
Will post again when I have news.
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

DAVID BLAIR
In reply to this post by Bill A
Hi Bill,
         I had a message from  Norman Brown today, he is editor of the Pioneer Corps Association;
Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald: Army number is 101782

Hope this helps track down his records from Glasgow, be aware there is  some delay in obtaining records at the moment with a high volume of requests being dealt with, you maybe lucky though as i was last month with a quick turnaround in requesting and receiving...

Kind regards,

Dave
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

John Wellborne
In reply to this post by CART Web Monitor
  Hi,                                              
 
 I am unsure wether anyone is still following this topic?

  Lieut. Col. R.W (Bill)   MacDonald was also  as Mac.
  He was the Inspector General of Police, Burma  until March 11,931, when he handed over  
ommand of  the Indian Police Service, Burma- to my Grandfather  Lieut. Col. Cyril de Montfort Wellborne,  IGP, Burma,OBE,Croix de Guerre, KPM,CIE,
I quote from Grandfather's 1931 Diary;

March 11-Handed over to Morris at 2pm, and took over for Mac about 4pm. I have attained my the first ambition of my life, but I am very sorry to loose Mac-he is such a dear.

March 12,-Got up at 6;45 and dressed and went down to the Phayne Jetty and saw the Macs off
by the Egra. Ifeel genuinely sorry to loose Mac-is is an absolute topper.

 My Grandfather remained as the IPG, until February, 1937.


Hopefully this will be of Interest to the family .

John W
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

John Wellborne
In reply to this post by CART Web Monitor
I found your site, while researching names that  appear in my Grandfather's
diaries which we are transcribing. There are many mentions of Mac and Hilda
, both socially and officially
  "Mac", as my Grandfather referrers  to him, was his IGP in  Burma,
Grandfather  took
over as IGP of Burma Police  from Mac in  March,1931.

   There are some interesting, and famous  people either domicile, or
visiting Rangoon that Mac and my Grandfather met officially as IGP and
Deputy IGP respectively.
   Mac would have been  IGP when Athol Blair alias George Orwell
(1984-Animal Farm) was a  Assist. District Superintendent of Police, (ADSP)
stationed in Regional Burma,(1922-1927) ,
    before being invalided home following a bad  bout of Dengue Fever.
    He based his  book 'Burmese Days" on his  short career -Ref;
"Burmese  Days"--Google download-Worth reading.

   So you see Bill, I have no relationship to the MacDonald Family, just
thought that this part of Mac's life would be of interest to the family.

I am sure Mac would be touched by all the attention he is getting
posthumously!

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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

Bill A
Thank you for the update

I did not realise that your grandfather was Mac's deputy for a while.  I thought he had arrived as a new man to take over.  It seems then that he was promoted insitu.

One thing that I know was that Burma was no easy posting.

What did your Grandfather do after IGP?
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Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE -

John Wellborne
   Bill,
 
    Oh yes, Grandfather was Mac's subordinate from 1909 when Grandfather  was "Appointed by the Secretary of State for India"  To India Police Service- Civil Police-Burma.
     (that was the official terminology) Like Mac he too served in Mesopotamia between 1915 and 1919, having trained in the  Indian  Northwest Frontier with the 114th Marathas, just as he had done
     when he  first  arrived in India, as a  Subaltern, having graduated from Sandhurst RMC, a year or two  after Mac in 1902 
    Though he was highly decorated, we are unable to find any record of Grandfather's  involvement accept that he was appointed to Hdg. Staff  the a  DAAG in 1918.
    
    Taking into account accumulated leave he retired on February 11, 1937 (actually due to retire in 1939)  He lived in London most of 1937, with his  3rd wife Mary, but escaped?  to Guernsey, Channel Islands   
     with his "fiancée" Agnes, who sadly died in January, 1938- Grandfather had "Died Young and beautiful" placed on her tombstone. He then met, and lived with a  Beryl, but  following the 1940  Channel
     Islands occupation  by the Nazis, like  many of the Islands residents, he was deported to Bavaria, and there incrassated in Leufen  Internment camp for the duration of WW2. 
      Repatriated by the American 7th Army,  to Salzburg, and  flown home to Croydon, England. He  was married for the 4th time, to his Beryl, whom he had pined for in  the Bavarian Internment camp.
     He died November, 1965 in St Heliers Hospital. Of his wife Beryl we have no records of her life, or death.
 
     No, police service in Burma would not have been easy-Orwell's book "Burmese Days" certainly bears that out!
 
      Cheers
 
           John Wellborne
 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2011 8:17 PM
Subject: Re: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick William (Bill) Mac Donald DSO CIE - Help Needed

Thank you for the update

I did not realise that your grandfather was Mac's deputy for a while.  I thought he had arrived as a new man to take over.  It seems then that he was promoted insitu.

One thing that I know was that Burma was no easy posting.

What did your Grandfather do after IGP?


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