MacDonald, William Moody (No. 102146)

MacDonald, William Moody (Billy)

Pilot Officer (Pilot U/T)

No. 102146, 58 Operational Training Unit, Royal Air Force

Killed in an aircraft accident on Thursday 28 August 1941 (aged 20)


Bangor Cemetery, Co. Down (Section 3.K Grave 160)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Bangor and District War Memorial

First Bangor Presbyterian Church

Bangor Grammar School

Regent House School (as W.M. McDonald)

QUB Book of Remembrance (Page 78)

QUB War Memorial

QUB Officers’ Training Corps Memorial Tablet

Family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery


William Moody MacDonald (sometimes McDonald) was born on 21 February 1921 and he was the younger son of Robert and Sara (sometimes Sarah) McCaw MacDonald (nee Robinson) who, at the time of his death, were living at 47 Bryansburn Road, Bangor.  Robert and Sara were married on 22 July 1914 in Killinchy Presbyterian Church.  Robert MacDonald from Bangor was a son of Robert MacDonald, a teacher.  Sara McCaw Robinson from Bangor was a daughter of Samuel Robinson, a farmer.   They had at least four children:

Robert Mervyn (born 5 September 1915 at 14 Prospect Road, Bangor)

Rebecca (born prematurely 9.00pm 18 March 1919 in Seacliffe Road, Bangor; died the same day)

Jane (born prematurely 9.05pm 18 March 1919 in Seacliffe Road, Bangor; died the same day)

William Moody (born 21 February 1921)

Robert MacDonald was the Headmaster of Bangor Central Public Elementary School and it was there that Billy began his education.  He also attended Bangor Grammar School from 1933 until 1937 and Regent House School Newtownards from 1937 until 1938 before going to Queen’s University Belfast to study engineering.  He was a renowned athlete and played rugby for Bangor Grammar, Regent House, and Queen’s University.  At Regent House he won the trophy awarded to the best senior athlete.  He was a member of the First Bangor Company of the Boys’ Brigade, of which his father was the President.  Billy’s uncle, T.H. MacDonald, was Town Clerk in Lisburn Urban Council.

Billy MacDonald joined the Royal Air Force from Queen’s University Officers’ Training Corps and he received his commission in June 1941.  In early August 1941 he was home on leave and three weeks later, on 28 August 1941, he was killed aboard a Miles Master Mark 1 aircraft (T8581) piloted by Flight Lieutenant Bogdan Grzeszczak flying out of RAF Grangemouth when it crashed near Maddiston, Stirlingshire.

Billy McDonald’s funeral to Bangor Cemetery on 31 August 1941 was described in the Press as ‘one of the largest seen in Bangor’.  The services in the house and at the graveside were conducted by the Rev Dr Currie and Squadron Leader the Rev A.E. Bothwick, RAF.  On 1 October 1941 a cot in the Cripples’ Home – subsequently named the Northern Ireland Institute for the Disabled (NIID) and now HarmonI, Downshire Road, Bangor – was endowed in memory of Pilot Officer William Moody MacDonald and an inscribed plaque over the cot was unveiled by his mother Sara.  At the time of the unveiling it was reported in the Press that ‘the crippled child lying in the cot was Norman Campbell’.

Pilot Officer William Moody MacDonald (No. 102146) was 20 when he was killed and he is commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial; in First Bangor Presbyterian Church; in Bangor Grammar School; in Regent House School (as W.M. McDonald); on Page 78 in the QUB Book of Remembrance; on the QUB War Memorial; on the QUB Officers’ Training Corps Memorial Tablet, and on the family grave headstone in Bangor Cemetery.  In one of the Roll of Honour notices published in the County Down Spectator there was the text:

His life, our freedom

At Bangor Grammar School Billy MacDonald and Julius Holland (killed on 23 July 1940) were close friends.

Billy’s father, Robert MacDonald, died on 8 December 1942 (aged 55); his mother, Sara MacDonald, died on 30 September 1962 (aged 75) and his elder brother, Robert Mervyn MacDonald, died on 9 September 1985.