Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (26 March 2009)

Date of Auction: 26th March 2009


Estimate: £300 - £400

The medals and journals of Lieutenant Roderick William Macdonald, Royal Navy, who went missing from the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Courageous on 15 February 1937

H.M.S. Ramilles Prize Medal, 26mm., silver, reverse inscribed, ‘H.M.S. Ramillies inter part Marathon Race Nov. 1930 3rd Prize Mid. R. W. McDonald’, in Phillips, Aldershot case of issue; Naval Prize Medal, 32mm., silver, hallmarks for Birmingham 1931, obverse inscribed, ‘1st B.S. Med. Fleet 1931’, reverse inscribed, ‘H.M.S. Ramillies Marathon Winners’; H.M.S. Excellent Sports Medal, 32mm., bronze, reverse inscribed, ‘Inter-Block Marathon 1933’; Malta Amateur Athletic Association Medal, 51mm., silvered bronze, reverse inscribed, ‘1935 One Mile 1st Lieut. Macdonald’, in Phillips, Aldershot case of issue; Sports Medal, 40mm., silvered bronze, obverse inscribed, ‘1st B.S. 1935 3 Mile 1st’, very fine and better (lot) £300-400


Lieutenant Roderick (Rory) William Macdonald was the younger son of Major Donald Ramsay Macdonald, D.S.O., M.C., Royal Field Artillery.

Sold with the recipient’s Journals (2) as a Midshipman; Vol. I, for the period 1929-30; Vol. II, for the period 1930-31-32 (Each volume of 170+ pages and inserts). The journals contain a fascinating and skilful array of hand-drawn maps, drawings, sketches, watercolours, together with a day by day account of his duties and other activities. During this period, Macdonald was serving aboard H.M. Ships Ramillies, Eagle, Glorious and Vanquisher. Also with a framed commission document appointing him Sub-Lieutenant, dated 25 October 1933; four naval group photographs and one of the recipient and his brother; an H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth cap tally, and a newspaper cutting in which Admiral Sir William Fisher wrote:

‘Anyone who has known Rory Macdonald, however slightly, will have felt a bitter pang to hear of his premature end on service in the Fleet Air Arm. But those, like myself, who had been in the same ship with him (and he was my flag lieutenant for a period) know that the Navy has suffered a really grievous loss. In all sincerity I believe that we officers and men of H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth that in him we had the most exceptional young officer of his time. Personally I have never known a better. Added to a most attractive appearance and manner, he had all the solid qualities of character that are most admired in our Service. Humour, gaiety, vivid and radiant there was, continually breaking through a strict sense of duty, while a quiet manner of authority yet sympathy - very rare in an officer of his age - evoke little short of devotion in the men under him. He was outstanding in all forms of sport, but chiefly as a long distance runner. It is very hard to lose Rory Macdonald. ....’

On a Memorial to Major Donald Ramsay Macdonald, D.S.O., M.C., R.F.A., and his two sons, the inscription for Lieutenant Roderick William Macdonald, Royal Navy, reads - ‘who was missing from H.M.S. Courageous west of Alexandria on 15th February 1937, aged 24’.

For his father’s medals, see lot 752; for his brother’s medals, see lot 711.