WWII: A/LT CDR George James (Mac) Macdonald DSO, DSC and Two Bars, MID (2), RNZNVR.
A/LT CDR Macdonald, born in 1921, joined the Wellington Division of the Naval Reserve in 1938. When he went to the United Kingdom in 1940 he was an Able Seaman who had already served as a Gunner in TRIENZA, a phosphate carrier trading to Nauru Island. In England he trained in HMS KING ALFRED, and as a Sub-Lieutenant became Second-in-Command of MTB31. When that ship was attacked by three German E-boats and set on fire, Macdonald not only fought the fires, but also dived overboard to save the life of the Chief Motor Mechanic. He helped in the salvage of the ship. For these actions he was awarded his first Distinguished Service Cross (DSC).
Later, in Command of MTB241, he fought nine actions in four months and was awarded a Bar to his DSC. In September 1943 he was promoted Lieutenant, and at the age of 22 became the youngest officer to command a flotilla of MTBs.
Macdonald was awarded a second Bar to his DSC in July 1944 for his performance in two actions, and in seven successful mine-laying operations. As Flotilla Leader, when his own ship was sunk he transferred to another and continued the action.
In July 1944, he attempted to sink a heavily armed German transport with three MTBs until it made safety of harbour. Whilst returning to his base, he discovered a second convoy and pressed home a successful attack. Remarkably, he sank two ships, despite the risk of enemy air attack during an action fought in broad daylight. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for this action.
He was twice mentioned in despatches and as one of the most highly decorated New Zealanders, Macdonald was regarded as an 'Ace' of coastal forces.
A/LT CDR Macdonald was employed by Wellington City Council, where he became City Engineer.