Edinburgh Police, RAF pilot, Traveller. Violinist. Now crofter. No sheep; only cattle at West Badarach, near Culrain, Ross-Shire.
Severe chronic alcoholic. Lazy. Drifter. His marriage ended in a divorce.
A few weeks ago, Margaret motored into Strath Oykell from the Kyle of Sutherland, a beautiful valley running into the West.
We stopped the car on the road a bit above Donald's house, and went slowly down the path towards his garden. He advanced slowly but confidently towards us. I said my name was Mackay. He said he guessed it. "Come in".
The house was a pleasant little croft, the front garden was in the process of being well set up. He had only been in occupation a very short time, following the death of Donald the 11th.
Inside, his 83? year old mother welcomed us, a gracious lady, not Highland, but born in Edinburgh district, a Miss Milroy. She remembered old Ben Reay and his pony and trap. Did not think much of him. He was too dominant. He used sometimes to call by, in her late husband's time.
Donald the 12th is an active medium built lad of 51 years, lately made a widower. Quite a talker.
Donald the 11th, his father, had been born at Badarach, and gone south to join the Edinburgh police. There he became a Lieutenant and retired on pension to Badarach to work as a sheep farmer. He became an expert, but it was very hard work. He died 19/3/68.
So Donald the 12th, who was also in the Edinburgh police, like his father (but rank not stated) had resigned or retired on pension to take over the old croft, and two adjoining ones, and his intention was to raise cattle. "No more in the sheep" said his mother firmly. So Donald was full of plans for his new venture. He had swotted up all the provisions of the crofters acts, and knew all that the crofters commission should do for him, and the grants he ought to get for draining, road work, fencing, etc.
Donald had gone to George Heriots, a fine old Edinburgh school. He played scrum half at rugger, and was also in the cricket team. In the late war, he with difficulty at last got leave to join the R.A.F., training in Arizona as a fighter pilot. He enjoyed the life, but the only action he saw was a German plane near him at a moment when he had no ammunition in his own guns - a wind-up moment, he said to us. After leaving the Police, he worked as a traveller for electrical goods for ten years. Now he has the croft.
He plays the violin with ease.
We invited him to join us for a meal at the hotel that evening, and had a delightful time. We all enjoyed the pleasures of the table. I would like to meet him again. I expect he will soon get a new wife.
He wrote me a very good orderly letter, but it takes a long time to get a reply from him. His son is Donald Rose the 13th. a shop manager, due to be married next year.
Donald the 12th is the only Rose I have met, so far.
RLM October 1968
Still at Badarach in 1972 and his mother still alive.