Hermes' Wings

History, Writing and Personal Musings


One of three brothers who served in the RAF during the war, Arthur Hay Donaldson (Jan 1915-Oct 1980), was commissioned in March 1934 as a Pilot Officer and spent the pre-war years in relative idyllic circumstances, flying biplane fighters. By when war broke out, he was a Flying instructor, and largely missed the Battle of Britain. In January 1941, however, he joined 242 Squadron, under the famed legless ace, Douglas Bader and obtained some valuable combat experience. But the lessons came at no mean cost. On June 14, by now commanding his own squadron (No. 263), he and other pilots raided Querqueville airfield in Nazi-occupied France. Donaldson’s fighter was hit by flak and he was nearly killed, but he returned to England and despite the gravity of his wounds, made a swift recovery. On 13 October 1942, he was wounded again, this time over Sicily. His cockpit splotched with blood, he just managed to return to Malta and crash-landed. The severity of injuries to his hands earmarked him for evacuation — his command of the Takali Wing on Malta concluded; his total tally standing at five victories. He later commanded a fighter station in England and trained Spitfire pilots to attack V-2 launch sites in Europe. Later commands included a stint in the Far East in 1945 — an episode cut short after he contracted Malaria and had to be repatriated to England. He retired from the RAF in 1959 and in his later years, managed a village shop and a sub-post office in Melbury Osmond near Dorchester.

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