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James Shaw Rose MACDONALD

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Capt 8 Nov 1894 20y8m 1 May 1915 31 Jul 1917 KA 4 & 7

Captain John Shaw Rose Macdonald (1894 - 1917)


Family background and early life

James Shaw Rose Macdonald was the second son of Alexander Rose Macdonald and Nancy (née Armitage).  He was born on 8 November 1894 at Herberton, North Queensland where his father was police magistrate, assistant land agent and visiting justice for the police gaol.  The Macdonald family later moved to Hill View, Greenslopes, Coorparoo.  Mr and Mrs Macdonald were communicant members of Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Brisbane.

James attended Bowen House School for four years then Brisbane Grammar School from 1909 to December 1910.  Before enlisting in the Australian Military Forces, James Macdonald was a Clerk in the Brisbane branch of the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney and had completed 3 years’ voluntary service in Senior Cadets and 5 years in an Australian Field Artillery unit.

Enlistment and service

James was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the AIF on 1 May 1915 and embarked aboard Royal Mail Steamer Persia from Melbourne on 10 August, bound for Egypt.

Second Lieutenant Macdonald joined the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in Gallipoli and survived.  After evacuation from the peninsula, he returned to Egypt where he spent the final weeks of the year 1915 in the Helonan Australian General Hospital, Cairo for treatment of jaundice.

In March 1916, Macdonald proceeded to join the British Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium.  He was transferred to 22nd Battery 1st Division Australian Field Artillery and promoted Lieutenant.  Lieutenant Macdonald was engaged at the First Battle of the Somme, taking charge of his battery when his Commanding Officer was disabled by wounds at Flers.

He was promoted Captain on 1 January 1917 and transferred to 6th Battery. He was engaged at Bapaume and Bullecourt. At the Third Battle of Ypres when bringing his battery into position under fire, Captain Macdonald was killed by a bursting shell. The Officer-in-Charge of 6th Battery stated:

 “This Officer was killed by shell fire on 31 July 1917 near Sanctuary Wood and buried at Reninghalst Cemetery. Death was instantaneous. I have no further particulars.”

James Macdonald’s grave was later moved to the Dickebusch New Military Cemetery Extension near Ypres in Belgium.

On a brass plaque in the main banking chamber of the former Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Head Office in Sydney, New South Wales, the name of J. S. R. Macdonald is embossed with the names of other bank staff who served their King and Country in the Great War.

Mr H. H. Massie, General Manager of the CBC of Sydney Bank stated in the preface of a memorial record: 

“Many, alas! of those who went away made the supreme sacrifice, and of them it can assuredly be said that their names will not only be graven on the Honour Board, but in the hearts of their fellow Bank Officers, and the memory of them will ever be recorded with loving and grateful remembrance in the annals of the Bank.”1

1. A Memorial Record of those members of the Staff of The Commercial Banking of Sydney Limited who served their King and Country in the Great War 1914-18, June 1922, page 3

Select Bibliography
• National Archives of Australia, military records, World War 1
• Crombie AC, “Macdonald, Alexander Rose (1845-1931”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, Melbourne, University Press, 1974
• Queensland Register of Births
• First World War Embarkation Rolls
• Archives, Brisbane Grammar School, The Golden Book
• Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour
• Commonwealth War Graves Commission
• Archives, Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited
• Archives, Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church, Brisbane, Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Annual Reports 1901 – 1925

Compiled by Noel E Adsett, Brisbane.  May 2015 ©



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