Battle of Britain London Monument – W/Cdr. E M Donaldson

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Privacy Statement The Airmen’s Stories – W/Cdr. E M Donaldson


Edward Mortlock Donaldson, the son of a judge, was born in Negri Sembilan, Federated Malay States on 22nd February 1912. He went to England at the age of six and was educated at King’s School, Rochester, Christ’s Hospital and McGill University, Canada.

He joined the RAF in March 1931 and did his flying training at 2 ITS, Digby. On 20th June 1932 Donaldson was posted to 3 Squadron at Upavon. He won the Brooke-Popham Air Firing Trophy in 1933 and 1934 and led the aerobatic displays at Hendon in 1935 and 1937 and at the International Rally at Zurich in 1937. Donaldson went to No. 1 Squadron at Tangmere on 2nd July 1936 as a Flight Commander. In August 1938 he joined the staff at 7 FTS, Peterborough and on 14th November he took command of 151 Squadron at North Weald.

In May 1940 151 took part in the fighting in France, using Vitry as an advanced landing ground. On the 17th Donaldson destroyed two Ju87’s, the next day a Me110 and on the 22nd another two Ju87’s. Over Dunkirk he shared a probable Me109 on 29th May, damaged a Ju88 on 1st June and destroyed a Me110 on 2nd June. He was awarded the DSO (gazetted 31st May 1940). On 14th July Donaldson claimed a Me109 destroyed.

He was posted away from 151 on 5th August to be CFI at 5 FTS, Sealand. In 1941 he was sent to the USA to help organise gunnery schools and to teach combat techniques. He was awarded the AFC (gazetted 30th September 1941).In 1944, after a period at the Empire Central Flying School, Donaldson was given command of RAF Colerne, the first permanent base for jet fighters in the UK. He later commanded RAF Milfield.

Donaldson took command of the RAF High Speed Flight in early 1946 and on 7th September he gained the World Speed Record in a Meteor at 616 mph. He was awarded the Britannia Trophy and received a Bar to the AFC (gazetted 12th June 1947) and the US Legion of Merit (1948).

He retired from the RAF on 21st March 1961 as an Air Commodore. He was made a CBE (gazetted 1st June 1953) and a CB (gazetted 1st January 1960).

After his retirement he was Air Correspondent for the Daily Telegraph until 1979. Donaldson died on 2nd June 1992 in the Royal Naval Hospital, Haslar and is buried at Tangmere.


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