13-03-1923 In Memory Ralph Nelson Macdonald 03-11-1944
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Ralph Nelson MacDonald was born on 13 March1923 in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. His parents were John Nelson MacDonald and Ethel MacDonald.

He was educated at Glace Bay High School, then went to work for the Canadian Bank of Commerce on 27th January, 1941. Ralph enlisted in R.C.A.F. on 6th November, 1941. he became a Pilot Officer on 20th November, 1942 and was promoted to Flying Officer on 9th August, 1943.

He trained at St. Thomas, Ont., Toronto, Windsor Mills and St. Hubert, Que., graduating from the last-named school as honour student of his class. He then went on to serve with 123 Squadron at Debert, N.S.

Ralph went  overseas in August, 1943. It was here that he joined 439 Squadron, flying Typhoons, as one of its original pilots. A seasoned pilot with 41 missions to his credit, Ralph was killed on 3rd November, 1944, while on a routine maintenance test flight from Melsbroek. He was initially buried at Eindhoven, and later reinterred in the permanent Military Cemetery at Groesbeek, Holland.

His Station Chaplain wrote: "He was so admired for his cool courage and generosity of spirit. He asked so little for himself and did so much for others." A fellow-Pilot wrote "He was a great flier, well tried in battle, and never failed to hold his place no matter how much stuff they threw at him. Everyone liked him and would willingly follow him on an op."

The following entry is from 439's War Operations Record Book : "Heavy cloud all day with haze in the morning and a cold drizzle late at night. In the morning we were unfortunate in losing J.21003 F/O R.N. MacDonald who was out carrying out an A & E test. J.20602 F/O R.H. Laurence was out doing a test as well. But they were doing a bit of dog-fighting over Eindhoven and "Mac's" aircraft flicked on recovering from a tight turn and hit a house. Unfortunately, Mac was killed. He had been with the Squadron when it formed in Canada and with 439 since arriving overseas except when he was posted away to 83 G.S.U. quite sometime ago when the Squadron was over strength and then again on having an operation on appendicitis before we left for France. This lanky youth came from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, and had made 41 operational sorties with a total of 42:10 operational hours. No operations were carried out today."

F/O MacDonald is buried at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery.

See Also:
439 squadron casualties in The Netherlands

Sources and Acknowledgements:
(1) Mr. Mike Melnick, webmaster of the 439 TIGER Squadron website, for his help and permission to use the cited Operations Records Book
The Canadian Virtual War Memorial Website

Relevant sites:
Mike Melnick's tribute to F/O MacDonald