A Second World War D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar, A.F.C. group of ten to Group Captain A.H.Donaldson, Royal Air Force,
Lot 25
A Second World War D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar, A.F.C. group of ten to Group Captain A.H.Donaldson, Royal Air Force,
Sold for £ 29,375 (US$ 39,629) inc. premium

For Valour

29 Sep 2010, 10:30 BST

London, Knightsbridge

Lot Details
A Second World War D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar, A.F.C. group of ten to Group Captain A.H.Donaldson, Royal Air Force,
A Second World War D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar, A.F.C. group of ten to Group Captain A.H.Donaldson, Royal Air Force,
Distinguished Service Order, G.VI.R., dated 1942; Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., dated 1941, with second award bar, dated 1942; Air Force Cross, G.VI.R., dated 1941; 1939-1945 Star; Air Crew Europe Star with Atlantic bar; Africa Star with North Africa 1942-43 bar; Burma Star; Defence Medal; War Medal; Coronation 1953. Mounted as worn. Lightly polished, very fine. (10)


  • D.S.O. London Gazette 3.11.1942.

    During the period 11th to 14th October, 1942, this officer participated in engagements against enemy aircraft attempting to attack Malta. Brilliantly leading his formation in attacks on bombers, regardless of the the fighters which escorted them, Wing Commander Donaldson played a large part in the success achieved. Attacks on the island were frustrated and several enemy bombers and fighters were shot down. On the 14th October he received wounds in the foot and head and 2 of his fingers were shot away. Despite this, he flew to base and skilfully landed his aircraft. Wing Commander Donaldson displayed leadership, courage and fighting qualities in keeping with the highest traditions of the Royal Air Force. He destroyed 3 enemy aircraft, bringing his victories to 5.

    During the recent battle Wing Commander Donaldson has shown the greatest determination in engaging enemy bombers, on one occasion leading three aircraft in a head on attack on eight enemy bombers, quite regardless of their heavy fighter escort. Another time he led his wing when it smashed up a formation of eight Ju88's and 30 to 40 fighters many miles from the coast of Malta. Four bombers and four fighters were destroyed and many more damaged. The next day he went alone straight through an enemy fighter screen and attacked the bombers and was responsible for the fact that no bombs fell on their target. He was twice shot up and exhibited the greatest skill in regaining base. On the second occasion he lost two fingers on his left hand and had head and foot injuries, yet by ***** led determination he brought his aircraft home. A large portion of the success achieved in breaking up 6 destroying enemy formations had been due to the magnificent offensive spirit displayed by this officer, and to his outstanding and inspiring leadership. His courage and desire to fight are an example to all.

    D.F.C. London Gazette 2.9.1941.

    This officer has shown himself to be an excellent leader and has carried out seven offensive operations against the enemy over Northern France and Belgium. During these operations he has destroyed and damaged a number of aircraft on the ground and inflicted considerable damage to buildings and dispersal pens. Once while returning to base with his squadron, he attacked six anti-aircraft barges, one of which was sunk and three damaged. Squadron Leader Donaldson has by his leadership, gallantry and initiative in action, set an excellent example and is largely responsible for the successful operations carried out by his squadron.

    Bar to the D.F.C. London Gazette 4.12.1942.

    Since his arrival in Malta at the beginning of August, this officer has taken part in 14 operational sorties. On August 27th he was responsible for the briefing and leading of a highly successful low flying attack on three Sicilian Aerodromes. Throughout the preparation and execution of the whole operation, his leadership, careful planning, and personal courage were an inspiration to all. On this occasion at least 10 enemy aircraft were destroyed and probably a further 9 over Sicily. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in November, 1942.

    Another recommendation sheds further light to the award: Since his arrival in Malta on August 8th this officer has taken part in six patrols, two convoy patrols, one dusk patrol and five sweeps. On August 27th he was responsible for the briefing and leading of the Ta Kali Wing and 185 Squadron which carried out a highly successful low flying attack on three Sicilian aerodromes. He personally chased and successfully attacked a Dornier 127 and caused other damage to military objectives by ground straffing. Throughout the preparation and execution of the whole operation his leadership, careful planning and personal courage were an inspiration to all and greatly contributed to the success of the operation which resulted in the destruction of at least 10 enemy aircraft and the probable destruction of a further 9 aircraft over Sicily.

    A.F.C. London Gazette 1.7.1941.

    Since 1938 this Officer has performed valuable work as a Flying Instructor, and has recently been in comman of a Flight fro 9 months. He has shown marked energy and devotion to duty and has attained a high standard with the considerable number of pupils and instructors he has trained.

    Group Captain A.H.Donaldson was born at Weymouth on 9th January 1915, he was educated at King's School, Rochester and Christ's Hospital, Horsham. He joined Metropolitan-Vickers in 1932 for an apprenticeship and he then joined the Royal Air Force in March 1934 and began flight training in April 1934. He flew regularly up until the start of WW2, and when war was declared was serving as a Flying Instructor, this continued until December 1940 when he was then posted to 56 O.T.U. at Sutton Bridge. He began flying Hurricanes and was posted to 242 Squadron in January 1941, then commanded by Sir Douglas Bader. He commenced with various convoy patrols and several interceptions, but was soon posted to 263 Squadron to command it. On 1st April he claims a Do.215 as probably destroyed. He has his first Warhead Operation on the 14th June when he attacks Querqueville airfield and notes in the logbook attacks on the dispersal pens, barrack blocks and lighthouse, he was hit by A/A fire. He was presented his Air Force Cross on the 29th July by the King. The second Warhead Operation took place on the 2nd August, he notes mowing down various troops and attacking oil tanks etc. On an attack of Morlaix airfield flak hit his aircraft in three places the shells burst the into the cockpit and ripped his flying helmet open and knocked him unconscious. He recovered over the English Channel and despite his serious wounds got his plane back to Cornwall. He remained in the hospital for several weeks.

    In April 1942 he was posted to command the Spitfire Wing at Fairwood Common in Wales and in August was reassigned to command the Spitfire Wing at Takali, Malta. On the 23rd he took part in the first offensive sweep over Sicily. He shared in the destruction of a Do 217 and a Macchi 202 during September, and in early October destroyed a Ju 88. On the 11th he was credited with a Me 109 and another Ju 88, and on the 14th destroyed yet another Ju 88.

    On October 15th he was again shot down, he was separated from his unit, he had pushed on through a screen of fighters to set fire to an enemy bomber, when he was jumped by two Me109's. He lost two fingers of his left hand and suffered both head and foot wounds. On the 31st October he was being flown out of Malta as a wounded stretcher case when the B-24 that he was in crashed into the sea off Gibraltar. He was only one of three survivors. After additional recuperation he was posted to command the Ibsley Fighter Station in March 1943. In December 1943 he was promoted to Group Captain and posted to command Coltishal Fighter Sector in Norfolk.

    He became heavily involved with raids on V2 rocket sights in that he trained Spitfire crews in precision bombing when carrying out power-dives, on launch sites and communication lines in Holland. He had watched the Luftwaffe attack the airfields in Malta and repeated this using Spitfires, tending to dive from 8,000ft with rockets or bombs and releasing at about 2,000ft, after this they would go in and sweep the area with a low-level strafing assault. The attacks were originally based from the UK but later the airfields in Belgium, as time progressed they carried out attacks at certain sites every 15 minutes. He finished with a brief stint in the Far East leaving in June 1945 with a view to taking command of a fighter wing near Rangoon, but was back four months later having had malaria and another tropical illness, but he did "beat up a Jap-held village" before he got too ill.

    In his post-war years he became actively involved with fast jets and continued his approach to attacks with high accuracy bombing with aircraft such as the Vampire. After six months at the RAF Staff College in Bracknell in 1946 he joined the Air Staff at Leighton Buzzard from October 1946 until June 1948. From there he went onto Leconfield until the end of August 1950. He was Station Commander at Biggin Hill from September 1950 until January 1952, then Station Commander at Waterbeach until January 1954, and later H.Q. 2 Group 2nd T.A.F. in Germany. From 1956 until his retirement in 1959 he was Deputy director of Air Defence at the Air Ministry. In later life he managed a Village shop and sub-post office in Melbury Osmond near Dorchester. He died on 5th October 1980.

    The lot includes an assortment of items including log books from April 1934 to October 1942. The later entries after September 1941 are later additions as he makes a special note "Owing to loss of Log Book a detailed account of flying in Malta cannot be given.

    The lot also includes his infamous B type flying helmet which has been damaged in action, this helmet features in various newspaper cuttings which have been stuck to a logbook that he used as a scrap book this contains a multitude of newspaper cuttings, letters including one's from Sir Keith Park, Viscount Trenchard, Sir Basil Embry, invitations etc; additional items comprise a copy of Aces Full by Robert Grinsell; a photocopy of his autobiography, although never published, this gives a very deep and interesting coverage of his life with much detil on his RAF service; Flying Review October 1953; 3 photographs and 3 records which are recordings of Winston Churchill's speech when he visited Biggin Hill when Donaldson was Station Commander.
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