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Ken McDonald

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

Harold Kennedy MacDonald was born on 24th February 1912 at Murrayfield, Edinburgh, the son of a solicitor. He was educated at St Monicas School, Edinburgh and then at Cargilfield Preparatory School. In 1925 he went to Loretto School and in September 1931 to Peterhouse College, Cambridge. He became a solicitor in his father's law practice and joined 603 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force in early 1935.

Ken MacDonald was called to full-time service on 24th August 1939. On 16th October he shared in the destruction of a Ju88 over the sea in the Firth of Forth. MacDonald left Turnhouse for Methil on 2nd November 1939 on convoy liaison duty and re-joined the squadron on the 7th. He shared He111's on 19th January and 7th March 1940, both east of Aberdeen. During a night patrol off the Firth of Forth on 26th June he saw anti-aircraft fire, flew towards it and shot down a He111 caught in the searchlights.

MacDonald was detached from 603 to RAF Turnhouse on 11th July 1940 for Controller duties. These attachments generally lasted two weeks.

On 27th August 603 Squadron went south to Hornchurch and on the 31st MacDonald claimed a Me109 destroyed. He led the squadron many times in September 1940.

On the 6th he got a probable Me109, on the 7th destroyed a He111, on the 18th destroyed a Me109, probably destroyed another on the 23rd and shot down another on the 27th.

On 28th September 1940 MacDonald was jumped by Me109s over Gillingham and his Spitfire was badly damaged. He dived away and headed for Hornchurch but the aircraft caught fire. MacDonald did not bale out but stayed to steer it away from a densely populated area. When flames got too close at 400 feet, he climbed out on to the port wing and jumped.

Although his parachute began to open, he was too low and he was killed. His Spitfire, L1076, crashed on to the parade ground at Brompton Barracks, Gillingham and MacDonald’s body fell nearby. He was 28. He was cremated at Warriston Crematorium, Edinburgh.

His younger brother, P/O DK MacDonald, was killed on 28th August whilst also serving with 603 Squadron.

Photo and text courtesy of Battle of Britain Monument website

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