- RAFBF StoryLines

1939 - 1945

World War Two

Mum and dad

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Posted by Rosemary Parry on

Dad was in coastal command and spent two years on Malta during the siege. He sadly died 2003.


Mum is nearly 96 here’s a brief history of their time during the war...


Mr Frederick Duncan MacDonald.
Born 13 March 1918.  Died 2 March 2003. Joined the RAF at 21 years old just before the start of WW2 in 1939. ​Was encouraged to join up with a promise that all that did would be trained in a trade once the war was over.


First posting was as wireless operator ground crew RAF on Malta and was there until the siege of Malta ended which lasted for 2 years and 5 months, finishing in November 1942. Malta suffered 3000 bombing raids, mainly on RAF defences and the ports, and was one of the most intensely bombed areas in the war. The Allied victory in Malta played a major role in the eventual Allied success in North Africa. Dad only weighed 5 stone when he was eventually repatriated back to the UK to Brize Norton.


In Nov 1942, he was posted to Brize Norton as ground crew wireless operator and met Ruth. Then on to Cranwell for training as air crew, which included a wireless maintenance course so that the equipment could be maintained by the operator. All air crew were trained to be rear gunners.


Final posting was around February 1943 until May 1945, when the war ended. Coastal command on Catalina’s, the Battle of the Atlantic based on Shetland. Task was to keep the coast clear of U-boats and protect the Russian food convoys.


Dad had nightmares about the German he shot as short range, who was trying to get to safety as his U-boat was about to submerge out of reach. They got it, but he always reminded us that he was some mother’s son, the date was 3rd August 1944.


The day before the war was officially announced as being over, all aircrew were grounded to save any unnecessary lives. However, Dad wanted to be with his new wife and she was in London .He and the rest of the crew scoured the island to find a pilot in charge of a plane that for any reason, was going south. They found a pilot and his co-pilot with a large 2 man aircraft. Dad and his crew talked him into letting them accompany him. This made 7 men, plus a dog and a bicycle with them. It took off, but due to the weight crashed on landing. Dad and another member of the Catalina crew had to escort the pilot to be charged for flying while all aircraft were banned.


Ruth Mary MacDonald.
Born 21st November 1922. In early 1940, joined the RAF. After initial training at Morcombe was sent on a Signals posting, No 1 Bomber command, Australian air force, as a clerk. She typed out instructions for pilots on rice paper. Morse code for an emergency in the early years of the war was the letter Q. There was a Q message received, but plane crash landed and all 5 crew were killed.


1942 RAF Cranwell to be trained in telecommunications. 1942 RAF Brize Norton extensive wireless operator and telecommunications course, and also where Ruth met Mac. Encouraged to apply for a posting in London, Air Ministry, Bomber command with HQ being Bletchley Park. Trained on the new systems as they were developed to enable instructions to be sent around the world in Morse code by air, wireless, as the LAN line system was easily broken in to. Posted to Air Ministry London. Billeted in Thurloe Court London where a direct hit and 15 girls were killed, many more injured. Whenever we needed training from Bletchley house on new procedures or systems, this was given at the Science museum on the top floor. The Air Ministry offices were under the Thames, we were 2nd floor down, Mr Churchill was on the floor below us. Just before the end of the war was declared Mr Churchill ordered the destruction of all information held at Bletchley Park about the systems we had used.

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