Patrick Donald MacDonald

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MacDonald on the left, next to Sir Harry Luke.
Patrick Donald MacDonald, CMG (Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George), CVO (Companion of the Royal Victorian Order), nicknamed Paddy (born 21 July 1909, Bells Hill, Lanarkshire, Scotland - died 15 June 1987, Surrey, England[1][2]) was the British colonial secretary of the Western Pacific High Commission in Fiji and is believed to have likely known "everything there was to know about the bones found on Nikumaroro."

Macdonald was educated at Marlborough and St. John's College, Cambridge.[2]

Colonial service

"Appointed to the Colonial Service in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands in 1932."[2]

On 8 April 1940 MacDonald became acting assistant secretary of the Western Pacific High Commission (WPHC) under Vaskess.[3], taking the job over from Harry Maude, who had been seconded to Pitcairn[4] On 2nd May 1940 he relinquished this post and on 24 May became acting secretary until 11 July when he again became acting assistant secretary,[3] likely having stood in for Vaskess while he was on leave or secondment. MacDonald went on vacation leave during 14-28th October 1940. From 11 to 19 November he traveled to Samoa and Tonga. On 11 December he again became acting secretary to WPHC and seems to have carried on in this post until 2 July 1941, when his personnel file noted he "resumed duty in substantive post... statement of pensionable service instrument(?) in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony."[5]

On 24 April 1941 he "proceeded(?) on duty with HC [high commissioner] to BSIP [British Solomon Islands Protectorate] & HH [unknown]."[3] On 20 April he sailed on the Viti with "Dr. Macpherson, Tomblings and Paddy Macdonald" for the Solomons. They got back on 14 May.[6]

In 1941 MacDonald rose from assistant secretary to colonial secretary, a prestigious and important position. Ron Gatty later recalled, "The Governor was a ceremonial figure and might set policy, but the Colonial Secretary was the CEO. He had three telephones on his desk, gave orders, and approved spending. Paddy was pretty damn good." Tofiga remembered Paddy as "fair, firm and meticulous."

MacDonald took the bones from Hoodless' office at Fiji School of Medicine in the summer of 1941.

In 1942, Macdonald was "seconded to Trinidad as assistant colonial secretary; and, in 1946, transferred to the post of administrative officer on Fiji. In 1949 he was appointed Chief Secretary of the Leeward Islands and retained the post until 1957 when he became Colonial Secretary and Acting Governor of Fiji. His final job on the island was as chairman of the public and police service commissions which he held until 1971."[2]

In 1978, Macdonald was in charge of closing the extant WPHC archives.

MacDonald may have had a part-interest in the Grand Pacific Hotel. Ron Gatty saw him there acting in a humble role, maybe as manager or desk clerk.


MacDonald's wife Delia Edith Travers was born 3 Aug 1913 in Westcliff, England and died in November 1994 at Hove, Sussex. His son Neil Mateson MacDonald was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1940 or 1941. His twin daughters, Sally and Hillary were born in about 1947.[7] Hillary later became Hillary Roberts and lived in Bermuda until November 2007.[8]

Notes and references

  1. Death registered in Surrey South-Western, v. 17, p. 1313.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Obituary in The Times, 22 June 1987.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 WPHC personnel file. TIGHAR's copy of Macdonald's personnel file ends with the 24 April 1941 entry.
  4. Woodburn, Where Our Hearts Still Lie.
  5. Does this mean he was back on Ocean or Tarawa?
  6. Maude, Sir Harry, A South Seas Diary, page 179.
  7. The Times obituary noted that the marriage "was dissolved" and that Macdonald was "survived by their twin daughters."
  8. She might be contacted through the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.