Flight Lieutenant James Neil McDONALD DFM

Service No: 407529
Born: Melbourne VIC, 28 April 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 9 November 1940 (at Adelaide SA)
Unit: No. 156 Squadron (RAF), RAF Upwood, Cambridgeshire
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM), 22 January 1943 (Citation Title: No. 148 Squadron RAF)
Died: Air Operations (No. 156 Squadron Lancaster aircraft PB209), Germany, 13 August 1944, Aged 28 Years
Buried: Rheinberg War Cemetery, Kamp Lintfort, Nordrhein-Westfal, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of James Malcolm and Elizabeth Augusta McDonald; husband of Joan McDonald, of Clarence Park, South Australia.
Roll of Honour: Adelaide SA
Remembered: Panel 126, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

DFM Citation: “Since joining 148 Squadron RAF in January 1942 Flight Sergeant McDonald has completed a total of 140 operations involving a total of 265 flying hours. He went with a detachment of the Squadron to Malta when the island was being blitzed and carried out a number of successful operations from there as second pilot. His aircraft was caught in a barrage over Comiso and badly damaged but the aircraft was brought safely back to Malta and a successful landing made in the middle of an air raid. Shortly afterwards a Captain of an aircraft, he was flying over Benghazi when the petrol flap opened. The aircraft went out of control at 11,000 feet and it was only at 4,000 feet that Flight Sergeant McDonald finally managed to bring the aircraft under control again. He flew the aircraft himself for five hours due to difficulty of handling it and finally made a safe landing at Sidi Berani where he adjusted the flap and flew the aircraft back to base. This NCO has always shown the highest standard of determination in attacking his target and has had some very good results. During the recent critical period, he continually asked to be allowed to fly on consecutive nights and did so on several occasions. He has displayed the highest qualities during his operational tour and has set a fine example to the other members of this Squadron and is most strongly recommended for the non-immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal. 14th December 1942.”

Lancaster PB209 took off from RAF Upwood at 2201 hours on the night of 12/13th August 1944, detailed to bomb Russelsheim, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. It was later determined that all the crew members had been killed.

The crew members of PB209 were:

Warrant Officer William Thomas Alsbury (977330) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Leonard Lawrence Deed DFC (403983) (Air Bomber)
Flight Lieutenant Stewart Leigh Dennis DFC (403914) (Navigator)
Flying Officer Donald William Dunham (406522) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Sergeant Ernest William Hunter (1825464) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Lieutenant James Neil McDonald DFM (407529) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Robert Henry Valencia (1814417) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/26/544

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