Edward Mortlock Donaldson

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Edward "Teddy" Mortlock Donaldson
Edward Mortlock Donaldson
Nickname(s) Teddy
Born (1912-02-12)12 February 1912
Negeri Sembilan, British Malaya
Died 2 June 1992(1992-06-02) (aged 80)
Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, Hampshire
Buried St Andrew's Church, Tangmere, West Sussex
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Air Force
Years of service 1931–1961
Rank Air Commodore
Commands held RAF Flying College (1958–61)
RAF Wunstorf (1951–53)
RAF Fassberg (1951)
High Speed Flight (1946–47)
RAF Milfield (1944–46)
RAF Colerne (1944)
No. 151 Squadron (1938–40)

Second World War

Awards Companion of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Air Force Cross & Bar
Mentioned in Despatches
Officer of the Legion of Merit (United States)
Other work Air Correspondent for the Daily Telegraph

Air Commodore Edward "Teddy" Mortlock Donaldson, CB, CBE, DSO, AFC & Bar (12 February 1912 – 2 June 1992) was a Royal Air Force (RAF) flying ace of the Second World War, and a former holder of the airspeed world record.

Early life[edit]

Born in Negeri Sembilan,[1] then part of British Malaya, his father C.E. Donaldson was a judge. One of four brothers, three of whom would serve as fighter pilots with the RAF and gain the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). Educated in England at the King's School, Rochester[1] and Christ's Hospital,[2] he then studied at McGill University in Canada.[3]

RAF career[edit]

Donaldson joined two of his brothers in the RAF in 1931, granted a short service commission his first posting being to No. 3 Squadron flying Bristol Bulldogs.[3]

In 1932 he was runner up in the R.A.F. Wakefield Boxing Championship, which he won the following year.[1] In 1933 the crack-shot won the RAF's Gunnery Trophy One, known as the Brooke-Popham Air Firing Trophy, and won it again in 1934. In 1935 he became a stunt pilot as a member of the No. 3 Squadron aerobatic team of five Bulldogs,[3] which he led in 1937 and 1938 at the International Zurich Rally.[1]

When the Second World War broke out, Squadron Leader Donaldson was commanding No. 151 Squadron flying the Hawker Hurricane.[4] In their first engagement over France, they destroyed six enemy aircraft, shooting down many more in the following months including at the Battle of Dunkirk.[2] For his leadership of the squadron during the battle and his personal tally of eleven kills, plus ten probable destructions, Donaldson was awarded the DSO.[3][5]

In desperate need for pilots, the RAF choose to transfer Donaldson to the gunnery instructor school. Posted to Canada, Donaldson self-penned an RAF training booklet titled Notes on Air Gunnery and Air Fighting, which after the United States entered the war, provided the basis for his instruction.[1] As liaison to the US Army Air Force,[3] his booklet was replicated over 7,500 times, and helped teach USAAF gunnery instructors.[1]

On his return to England in 1944, he converted to jet aircraft and commanded the first operational Gloster Meteor squadron, at RAF Colerne.[3]

Airspeed record[edit]

During the Second World War, most of the pre-war airspeed records had been broken. The RAF decided to recapture the flight airspeed record with its new generation of jet aircraft, and set up a new High Speed Flight squadron. Group Captain Donaldson was selected to command the Air Speed Flight, established at the start of 1946. On 7 September 1946, he established a new official world record of 615.78 mph (991.00 km/h; 535.10 kn) in a Gloster Meteor F.4 over Littlehampton,[3] although some unofficial Me-262 and Me-163 flights in the Second World War achieved higher speeds. As a result, he was awarded a Bar to his Air Force Cross.[6]

Later RAF career[edit]

During the early 1950s, Donaldson served in West Germany and commanded RAF Fassberg and RAF Wunstorf airfields, gaining appointment to Commander of the Order of the British Empire in June 1953, and advancement to air commodore in July 1955 after attending the Joint Services Staff College. From 1956 to 1958 he served as Deputy Commander of Air Forces in the Arabian Peninsula. On return to England, his final appointment was as Commandant of the RAF College, Manby.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Donaldson married Winifred Constant in 1936, and the couple had two daughters. After they were divorced in 1944, in the same year he married Estellee Holland, and the couple had one son. After they were divorced in 1956, he married Anne Sofie Stapleton in 1957, whom he divorced in 1982.[7]

Donaldson retired as an air commodore in 1961, and became the Air Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph, until 1979.[3] He retired to his home in Selsey, and died at the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar on 6 June 1992. Donaldson is buried at St Andrew's Church, Tangmere.[1]


Donaldson's "Star" Meteor is on display at the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum, together with that of later 1953 record holder, Squadron Leader Neville Duke, who flew a Hawker Hunter at 727 miles per hour (1,170 km/h).

Donaldson lived at Iron Latch Cottage, Selsey, where a later blue plaque was placed on the beach at the bottom of Park Lane to mark the event. Donaldson has a second plaque at No. 86, Grafton Road, Selsey.

Donaldson's medals and flight books were sold at auction for £4,800 in June 2004.[1]

Service history[edit]

Date Notes
26 June 1931 Appointed to a Short Service Commission. Initial Officer Training, RAF Depot
11 July 1931 U/T Pilot, No 2 FTS
20 June 1932 Pilot, No 3 Sqn.
23 April 1936 Supernumerary, RAF Depot.
22 March 1937 Act Officer Commanding, No 72 Sqn.
26 July 1937 Flight Commander, No 1 Sqn.
1937 Recommended for AFC, turned down
29 March 1938 Granted a Permanent Commission in the rank of Flight Lieutenant
5 May 1938 Attended Instructor's Course, Central Flying School. (graded B)
Aug 1938 QFI, No 7 FTS.
14 November 1938 Officer Commanding, No 151 Sqn.
5 August 1940 CFI, No 5 FTS.
Unknown Officer Commanding, ? School
1 Jun 1941 Mentioned in Dispatches
30 September 1941 Awarded AFC
1941 Liaison Officer, USAAF (USA)
Unknown Supernumerary, Polish Wing, RAF Northolt
Unknown Group Captain, Fighter Control Unit, 2nd TAF.
1944 Attended Empire Central Flying School
Unknown Officer Commanding, RAF Colerne
Unknown Officer Commanding RAF Milfield
Jul 1946 Officer Commanding, RAF High Speed Flight
7 September 1946 Breaks Flight airspeed record, reaching 615.78 miles per hour (991.00 km/h) in a Gloster Meteor F Mk4 over Littlehampton.[3]
1947 SASO, HQ No 12 Group
12 June 1947 Awarded AFC Bar
15 February 1949 Awarded Legion of Merit, USA
1951 Officer Commanding, RAF Fassberg
Unknown Officer Commanding, RAF Wunsdorf
1 June 1953 Awarded CBE
16 April 1954 Director of Operational Training
11 December 1956 Deputy Commander, HQ British Forces, Arabian Peninsula
12 November 1958 AOC/Commandant, RAF Flying College
1, 1 January 1960 Awarded Commander of the Bath in New Year Honours
21 March 1961 Retired

Combat record[edit]

The following table is not complete in numbers or detail.

Date Service Flying Kills Probables Notes
17 May 1940 Royal Air Force Hurricane 2 * Junkers Ju 87 1 * Junkers Ju 87 50miles east of Valenciennes
18 May 1940 Royal Air Force Hurricane 1 * Messerschmitt Bf 110 Over Vitry-en-Artois airfield
22 May 1940 Royal Air Force Hurricane 1 * Junkers Ju 87 1 * Junkers Ju 87 Over Merville
29 May 1940 Royal Air Force Hurricane 1/2 * Junkers Ju 88
30 May 1940 Royal Air Force Hurricane 1 * Junkers Ju 88 Gazetted for DSO
1 June 1940 Royal Air Force Hurricane 1 * Messerschmitt Bf 110 Battle of Dunkirk
2 June 1940 Royal Air Force Hurricane Squadron moved from France to RAF Tangmere
27 June 1940 Royal Air Force Hurricane On return from France protecting squadron of Basil Embry, shot down over English Channel
12 July 1940 Royal Air Force Hurricane Commencement of the Battle of Britain. Shot down over England by Dornier Do 17, lands RAF Martlesham Heath
14 July 1940 Royal Air Force Hurricane 1 * Messerschmitt Bf 109 Over Dover Straits
26 July 1940 Royal Air Force Hurricane Final flight of Battle of Britain
27 July 1940 Royal Air Force Given leave, on return posted to No. 5 F.T.S. as Chief Flying Instructor
TOTALS 5.5 kills 4 probable


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Sold by Order of the Sole Beneficiary of the Estate, Medals and Collections of the Late Air Commodore E. M. Donaldson, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., A.F.C.". Dix Noonan Webb. 6 July 2004. Retrieved 13 July 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "The Banking Mortlocks". RJH Griffiths. 2000. Retrieved 13 July 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Edward Mortlock Donaldson". rafweb.org. Retrieved 13 July 2009. 
  4. ^ "Edward Mortlock Donaldson". the-battle-of-britain.co.uk. Retrieved 13 July 2009. 
  5. ^ "Supplement to the London Gazette" (PDF). London Gazette. 28 May 1940. Retrieved 13 July 2009. 
  6. ^ "Supplement to the London Gazette, June 12, 1947" (PDF). London Gazette. 12 June 1947. Retrieved 13 July 2009. 
  7. ^ "Edward Mortlock Donaldson". unithistories.com. Retrieved 14 July 2009. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Thomas, Nick. (2008). RAF Top Gun: The Story of Battle of Britain Ace and World Air Speed Record Holder Air Cdre E.M. 'Teddy' Donaldson CB, CBE, DSO, AFC*. LoM (USA) Pen & Sword Books ISBN 978-1-8441-5685-6