Royal Australian Navy mourns the passing of Rear Admiral Neil McDonald

Published on Ms Natalie Staples (author)

Location(s): Garden Island Naval Chapel, Sydney

Topic(s): Funeral

Rear Admiral Neil McDonald, AO, RAN (Ret'd) (photo: Unknown)
Rear Admiral Neil McDonald, AO, RAN (Ret'd)

The life and service of Rear Admiral (RADM) Neil McDonald, AO, RAN (Ret’d) was commemorated at his funeral service, held at the Garden Island (Sydney) chapel on Friday, 7 March 2014.

Commander Australia Fleet, Rear Admiral Tim Barrett, AM CSC RAN, represented the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) at the funeral and reflected on the significant contribution RADM McDonald made in his 43 years of service.

“Neil Ewer McDonald was born in 1922 and entered the Royal Australian Naval College at the age of 14, gaining his colours for cricket, rugby and tennis. A keen scholar, he was first in all three groups of subjects, French-History-English, mathematics-physics-chemistry and engineering-seamanship-navigation,” RADM Barrett said.

“Following promotion to midshipman in 1939, McDonald saw war service in HMAS Canberra (I), HMAS Stuart (I), HMS Liverpool, HMAS Norman, and HMAS Barcoo, in which he was temporarily in command during October 1944 as a young Lieutenant. In 1945 he proceeded to the United Kingdom to undertake advanced navigation training. On completion of that training he was appointed Squadron Navigating Officer in HMS Harrier and HMS Dryad,” he said.

Rear Admiral Neil McDonald, AO, RAN (Ret'd).

Rear Admiral Neil McDonald, AO, RAN (Ret'd).

“Navigation appointments in HMAS Sydney (III), HMAS Australia (II) and HMAS Vengeance followed during which time he was promoted to the rank of Commander before being appointed Co-ordinator of Training at HMAS Watson.  This was followed by a posting to HMS Terror.

“In June 1958 Commander McDonald was appointed as the Executive Officer in HMAS Voyager (II) and on promotion to Captain was appointed the command of HMAS Queenborough and as the Senior Officer 1st Frigate Squadron. Further appointments followed as: Director of Tactics Trials and Requirements, Australian Naval Attaché Jakarta, commanding officer HMAS Supply 1966, commanding officer HMAS Vampire and 10th Destroyer Squadron, Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel,” said RADM Barrett.

“In 1969 Captain McDonald attended the Imperial Defence College in the United Kingdom before being promoted to Commodore on 9 January 1970 and taking up the appointment as the Chief of Staff to the Flag Officer Commanding the Australian Fleet. On 23 May 1972 Commodore McDonald assumed command of the RAN flagship HMAS Melbourne (II), a position he held until 20 June 1973.

“Senior appointments followed as the Officer-in-Charge of the RAN Trials and Assessing Unit, Director General Operations and Plans, Flag Officer Commanding the Eastern Australian Area and on promotion to Rear Admiral on 11 February 1975, Flag Officer Commanding the Australian Fleet and Deputy Chief of Naval Staff,” RADM Barrett said.

“He was made an Officer in the Military Division of the Order of Australia (AO) in the 1977 Queen’s Birthday Honours and retired from the permanent navy in August 1979 following 43 years naval service.

“RADM McDonald served Navy and Australia extraordinarily well over many years. His skill, courage and determination will be remembered by the Navy community. Our thoughts are with his family,” RADM Barrett said.

RADM McDonald passed away on 22 February 2014 and is survived by his wife Peggy, daughters Victoria and Susan and his son Andrew.

Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20140554.

Coffin bearers convey the casket of Rear Admiral Neil McDonald, AO, RAN (Ret'd) from the Naval Chapel after a funeral service held at Garden Island, Sydney, NSW.

Coffin bearers convey the casket of Rear Admiral Neil McDonald, AO, RAN (Ret'd) from the Naval Chapel after a funeral service held at Garden Island, Sydney, NSW.