Marine Engineer of Sandbank, Argyll. South Carolina.
Donald (Dan) Macdonald. 1893-1965
"As youngsters he and I were very close to each other. We got into mischief together. We got out of trouble together. When the odds were against one of us the other always joined in to help. Perhaps all that developed because none of our elder brothers took any interest in us. Although bigger and stronger than me he seemed to defer to me. We were in a physical training group together, swam and played football together and shared our pennies.
Dan joined the Navy at 16 in Glasgow around 1909. A postcard from H.M.S. Ganges training ship at Harwich, informed the parents. Later he was to box and swim for various ships on which he served. He trained in electrical engineering, and became a leading torpedo operator. He seemed to seek action and volunteered for submarines and "Q ship" services. During War I he served in the Sea of Marmara and his commander (subsequently Admiral) Naismith got a V.C. for taking his ship under the Turks' defence boom and knocking out two or three of their cruisers. Before the actual landing on Gallipoli he was one of the demolition parties who swam ashore during the night and blew up gun emplacements, etc.
Returning from the Dardanelles for a rest at Devonport, Dan joined a "Q ship" commanded by Gordon Campbell who too, got a V.C.
About 1920 he got his discharge from the Navy, got married to Annie Macdonald of Sandbank, and sailed immediately for U.S.A. There he developed a business of his own as an electrical engineer but lost the lot because of the Wall Street crash and the Never/Never System. His debtors could not pay up. He had to sell most of his furniture for - as he put it - candies, but held onto an old jalopy which he used to get work of any kind. Often Annie and he went without a meal because they could only buy enough food for the children. Bye and bye he got back to sea, and in time became chief electrical engineer on a ship of the Grace Line taking tourists to the Bahamas.
When World War II and Lease-Lend came along he transferred to a fast cargo ship of the same line and make several trips to Liverpool and Glasgow. On one of these trips while his ship was at Greenock for repairs he spent a night with us at Aberfeldy. It was interesting that these ships were stripped of everything - even the crew's blankets, and any ship's gear that could be left behind. Then with only enough rations for the voyage, and rocks for ballast they took the shortest route home at top speed. Dan was pleased to feel he was of some help to us.
That was the last I saw of him. He was at Normandy later. He phoned me "Goodbye" from Portsmouth, the evening before he left finally for home.
He had three sons, Jack, Graham and James, and one daughter, Marjorie. Jack and Graham spent a few days with us - not together - during War II, and Marjorie a whole summer after it ended. James and his wife Gene spent a week with us in 1965. They are all very good types. They still write to us occasionally.
Dan died about 1960 and his wife a few years later".
Frank. (? Date).
I have gathered the following in conversations with Frank and Alec Macdonald, and Jessie Petterson during 1965 and 1966, and am liable to correction in details (RLM).
(From Alec Macdonald)
Somewhere around 1966, Alec received a note from the Registrar of Glasgow University asking him if he had a brother Donald or Dan, and also if he was a retired headmaster. Further had he a son Alistair who was a doctor? Alec replied in the affirmative to the University. The Registrar then stated he had received an enquiry from a solicitor somewhere in the U.S.A. on these points, and saying that the solicitor was acting in the estate of Dan Macdonald who had died lately. 1965?
The Registrar replied to the solicitor indicating Alec was alive, etc. The solicitor asked what the University charged for its services in finding Alec, to which the Registrar indicated there was no charge as this was a service the University liked to render to its graduates.
(From the three cousins above)
It appeared that well over 10 years previously Dan, who had continued as an engineer on the Bahamas lines had left his wife, and completely ceased to have any communication with her. On application to the courts he was presumed dead, as many years had now elapsed, and his wife or widow was awarded a widow's pension.
But he had taken up with a lady in one of the Southern States (or else California) but had not married her, only lived with her, for some time.
Tiring in due course of her, he had left her after this quite unofficial union, and had actually married a wealthy (third) lady somewhere also in the South. Soon after, this lady died, leaving Dan a worthwhile estate (Florida).
Then Dan died around 1965.
The second lady to whom he was not married, hearing of his death, probably knowing of the estate being worthwhile, claimed to be his lawful widow, and therefore entitled to a state widow's pension. The Pension Authorities on looking at their records of Dan then found that there were apparently two women claiming pensions on Dan's two deaths (the first a presumed death, and the other the actual death).
Hence the solicitor's enquiry to iron things out.
At this date (March 1967) I do not know how it all ended.