28.12.1944 No. 33 Squadron Tempest V EJ881 W/O. MacDonald
Operation: Training sortie
Date: 28th December 1944 (Thursday)
Unit: No. 33 Squadron
Type: Tempest V
Base: RAF Predannack
Location: S.S.E Helston, Cornwall
Pilot: W/O. Neil Evan McLeod MacDonald NZ/42427 RNZAF Age 23. Killed
Update: The nephew of the pilot contacted us in July 2017 - further information attached.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at around 10:30 hrs from RAF Predannack on local flying practice. After only 30 minutes into the flight the pilot experienced engine problems followed quickly by total failure. He decided to force land the Tempest in a field 3 miles south south east of Helston.
Sadly the aircraft slid into a stone wall some 80 metres from touch down. The aircraft burst into flames killing the young pilot.
Subsequent investigation showed the engine suffered a con rod fracture.
Above: W/O. Neil Evan McLeod MacDonald. (courtesy Jan Field-Hodgson)
Above: funeral for the pilot (courtesy Scott Beal)
W/O. Neil Evan McLeod MacDonald. Bath Cemetery (Haycombe). Plot 51. Sec. H. Row V. Grave 236. Born on the 4th December 1921, the son of Neil and Victoria MacDonald, of Invercargill, Southland, New Zealand.
Further information: Attended Southland Boys High School, where he passed the Senior Free Place examination. He afterwards furthered his studies by attending night classes in commercial subjects the Southland Technical College. Hie sports were football, Tennis, swimming and long distance running. He was employed as a clerk is the National Mortgage and Agency Company Limited, Invercargill when applying In December 1940 for war service in the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
Warrant Officer MacDonald was enlisted for aircrew training on the 12th January 1942 at the Initial Training Wing, Levin, and moved with this unit to Rotorua in February. Posted on the 9th March to No. 1 Elementary Flying School, Taieri, to commence his flying training and proceeded the 14th June to No. 1 Service Flying Training School, Wigram, where on the 2nd September he was awarded flying badge. Promoted to sergeant on the 28th November, to flight sergeant on the 01st June and Warrant Officer on the 01st June. Meanwhile, on the 6th January 1943 he had embarked for the United Kingdom.
Left: 1 SFTS Wigram 1942 (possibly award of Pilots Badges - all featured presented on 28 November 1942) Back three from left: Fl/Sgt. A.R. Young, Fl/Sgt. John Stuart Selby Fleming, Sgt. Francis Alexander Jack Scott. Centre two: Fl/Sgt R.W. Vaney, W/O. Neil Evan McLeod MacDonald. Front four (seated) three from left: P/O L.J.S Brown, Fl/Sgt D.B. Thomas, P/O. John Cecil Turner NZ/42115, Fl/Sgt Harold Leslie Raymond Richards NZ/42457. (courtesy Jan Field-Hodgson)
Right: - five of these seven men were killed! Wigram 1942 (possibly on award of Pilots Badges - they were all presented their badges on 28 November 1942): Top three: Fl/Sgt. A.R. Young, Fl/Sgt. John Stuart Selby Fleming (1), Fl/Sgt. Graham Braddock (2) Centre two: W/O. Neil Evan McLeod MacDonald (3) Sgt. Francis Alexander Jack Scott (4) Front (seated) Fl/Sgt. D.B. Thomas, Fl/Sgt. Harold Leslie Raymond Richards (5) (courtesy Jan Field-Hodgson)
(1) 27 year old, Fl/Sgt. John Stuart Selby Fleming NZ/421038 - Killed on the 19th November 1943 whilst with 90 Squadron. Buried at Rheinberg War Cemetery.
(2) 24 year old, Fl/Sgt. Graham Braddock NZ/421012 RNZAF - Killed on the 29th August 1943. Buried at Dyce Old Churchyard in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
(3) 23 year old, W/O. Neil Evan McLeod MacDonald NZ/42427 RNZAF - Killed on the 28th December 1944 whilst with 33 Squadron. Buried at Bath Cemetery (Haycombe)
(4) 28 year old, Sgt. Francis Alexander Jack Scott NZ/421105 RNZAF - Killed on the 28th May 1944 whilst with 75 Squadron. Buried at Gilze-En-Rijen R.C Cemetery.
(5) 28 year old, Fl/Sgt. Harold Leslie Raymond Richards NZ/42457 RNZAF - Killed whilst serving with 622 Squadron on the 18th November 1943. Buried at Lachalade Churchyard, Meuse, France.
Warrant Officer MacDonald arrived at No. 11 Personnel Despatch and Reception Centre, Bournemouth, on the 14th February 1943 after a short attachment with the RAF Regiment at Whitley Bay, Northumberland, was posted on the 3rd May to No.15 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit, Newbury, Berkshire. During May he attended a beam approach course at No. 1516 Beam Approach Training Flight, Pershore, Worcestershire.
Right: receiving his wings (courtesy Scott Beal)
At the conclusion of this course, on the 01st June he rejoined No. I5 Advanced Flying Unit. was posted on the 6th June for additional training with No.5 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit Ternhill, Shropshire, and on completion of this training, proceeded on the 10th August to No. 57 Operational Training Unit Eshott, Northumberland for training on the Spitfire Fighter aircraft. He wan posted on the 7th March to No. 1 Tactical Exercise Unit, Tealing, Dundee, Scotland, and on the 7th June to No. 84 Group Support Unit, Tactical Air Force, Aston Down, Gloucestershire. On the 6th August he was then posted to No. 33 Squadron then at Fairwood Common, Glamorgan but later to proceed to France and Belgium in the wake of Invasion of Europe.
With this squadron as pilot of a Spitfire fighter, Warrant Office MacDonald carried out forty-six operational flights comprising of nine low level attacks on enemy objectives, sixteen flights in close support of ground forces, five armed reconnaissance flights, three offensive patrols, two flights affording cover to bombers and one fighter sweep.
On the 17th December 1944 the squadron returned to Predannack, Cornwall.
A very experienced pilot having taken part in some 46 operations with 570 flying hours logged, however only 2 hours on this type.
Researched with great assistance from Jan Field-Hodgson who submitted the photographs from her relative St. Francis Jack Scott. (killed on the 28th May 1944 Lancaster III ND802) Page dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to sources as quoted below as well as Errol Martin for his great publications “For Your Tomorrow". Also to Scott Beal, his nephew who contacted us in July 2017 with detailed information and funeral photographs.