Rogart Heritage

Archaeology & Heritage

Sergeant Robert George Macdonald

On the night of Saturday 10th October 1942 a Wellington bomber BK257 from one of the RAF’s many training units crashed on a small plantation just outside Filey, North Yorkshire, after stalling in mid air. 

The 16th OTU were based in Thornaby, Yorkshire and this was one of the many training flights that had set off on a navigation exercise the preceding afternoon. The crew of BK257 had got lost in worsening weather and it is thought that the pilot dropped below the cloud to try to get a fix on their position. Unfortunately when he realised that he was too low he pulled up too fast and, through lack of experience, stalled the plane whilst trying to climb too quickly.

 St Oswald's church, Filey

Three of the Wellington’s crew were laid to rest in a quiet corner of St. Oswald’s churchyard and were given official war graves whilst the other two were repatriated to their home towns. 

The oldest member of the crew was Robert George Macdonald (Sergeant/ Navigator) Serial Number 1380294, who was aged 33, and went by the name of George.  George was a volunteer and a member of the Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve.  He married Kathleen Dovey in 1935, and it is believed that they had one son who was aged about 3 when his father was killed.

Robert George Macdonald was buried in St Oswald’s churchyard in Filey. He is also commemorated on Claines Village War Memorial, in Worcestershire , the World War 2 Roll of Honour in St John the Baptist Church, Claines and on our war memorial in Pittentrail.

So, why is Robert commemorated on Rogart war memorial?

Grave of Robert George Macdonald

Robert’s George’s father, George Macdonald, was from a small dwelling above West Kinauld. He left Rogart some time between 1901 and 1911 and he can be found in the 1911 census with his wife of 5 years, Sarah Gittins (or Gittings) and two young children: Robert and Mona. They went on to have a second son, William R Macdonald in 1920. Father, George Macdonald, subsequently returned to Rogart to a croft at Rhemusaig and lived to the age of 84.

Sgt Macdonald’s widow Kathleen subsequently married again and died in 2006, 64 years after Robert’s death. However, In front of Sgt Macdonald’s headstone in St Oswald’s church is a small flat stone. On it is written: “And Kathleen, his wife, died 23rd March 2006, aged 94 years. Reunited at last.”

Thanks to Ian Elsom who has generously shared his research, photographs https://lafredux.blog/2017/10/10/north-cotes-plantation/ and expertise and to http://www.angelfire.com/de3/fileycasualties/wwiinew/noncommemorationraf.htm for information about the crash.