Rear Admiral Neil Ewer McDonald

Deputy Chief of Navy (1978 - 1979)

Commander Australian Fleet (1977 - 1978)

Rear Admiral Neil McDonald

Neil Ewer McDonald was born on 12 November 1922 in Payneham, South Australia. He entered the Royal Australian Naval College in 1936 gaining his colours for cricket, rugby and tennis. On passing out he was awarded ‘maximum time’, the Grand Aggregate prize and the Otto Albert Memorial Prize for seamanship. A keen scholar, he was first in all three groups of subjects, French-History-English, mathematics-physics-chemistry and engineering-seamanship-navigation.

Following promotion to Midshipman on 1 September 1939, McDonald saw war service in HMAS Canberra (I), HMAS Stuart (I), HMS Liverpool, HMAS Norman, and HMAS Barcoo, in which he was temporarily in command during October 1944 as a young Lieutenant. In June 1945 he proceeded to the United Kingdom to undertake advanced navigation training. On completion of that training he was appointed Squadron Navigating Officer in HMS Harrier (1946-47) and HMS Dryad (1947).

Navigation appointments in HMAS Sydney (III) (1948-1949), HMAS Australia (II) (1950) and HMAS Vengeance (1953-54) followed during which time he was promoted to the rank of Commander (1955) before being appointed Co-ordinator of Training at HMAS Watson (1954-55). This was followed by a posting to HMS Terror (1955-1957).

In June 1958 Commander McDonald was appointed as the executive officer in HMAS Voyager (II) and on promotion to Captain in command of HMAS Queenborough and as the Senior Officer 1st Frigate Squadron. Further appointments followed as: Director of Tactics Trials and Requirements (1959-1961), Australian Naval Attaché Jakarta (1961-1963), Commanding Officer HMAS Supply 1966, Commanding Officer HMAS Vampire and 10th Destroyer Squadron 1967, Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel 1968.

In 1969 Captain McDonald attended the Imperial Defence College in the United Kingdom before being promoted to Commodore on 9 January 1970 and taking up the appointment as the Chief of Staff to the Flag Officer Commanding the Australian Fleet. On 23 May 1972 Commodore McDonald assumed command of the RAN flagship HMAS Melbourne (II), a position he held until 20 June 1973.

Senior appointments followed as the Officer-in-Charge of the RAN Trials and Assessing Unit (1973), Director General Operations and Plans (1974-1975), Flag Officer Commanding the Eastern Australian Area (1975-1977) (on promotion to Rear Admiral 11 February 1975), Flag Officer Commanding the Australian Fleet (1977-1978) and Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (1978-1979).

Rear Admiral McDonald was appointed as an Officer in the Military Division of the Order of Australia (AO) in the 1977 Queen’s Birthday Honours and retired from the RAN in August 1979 following 43 years naval service.

Rear Admiral Neil McDonald passed away on 22 February 2014.