Community councillor suggests new street name

A Fraserburgh Community Councillor has put forward her a suggestion for the naming of a new street in the Broch.

Mary Melville, who is also a senior member of the town’s Community Safety Group, has made the case for the new street to be called “McDonald Place”.

Ms Melville made the suggestion as she feels it would be a fitting tribute to the heroism of Samuel McDonald, who had a distinguished career in the territorial division of the Gordon Highlanders.

Commenting, Ms Melville said: “Our community is rapidly forgetting the great effect some of our residents had on the citizens of the past, especially in times of great need.

“Fraserburgh could easily bask in the reflected glory of the achievements of Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel McDonald. Other such persons were Miss Annie Gladwell and Dr. David Murison.

“Futhermore, in 2014 it would seem appropriate to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War. Even if the street is not built until 2015 this would be equally fitting since the Territorials did not go to France until May of 1915.”

Although he was not born in Fraserburgh, Samuel McDonald made an enormous contributed to the fortunes of the town.

The second of seven children, Samuel was born on November 25, 1877, to James McDonald, a master shoemaker, and Margaret Reid of 82 Shore Street, Macduff.

By 1891 the family had moved to Perth Street, Banff, and ten years later they moved to Aberdeen.

Samuel was educated at Robert Gordon’s College and Edinburgh University where he qualified as a solicitor. He chose to set up business in Fraserburgh with his friend John C. Richards. The firm of McDonald and Richards continued in the Broch for a number of years.

Samuel, or Sam as he was affectionately known, married Mary Ann McKenzie, a nurse, on July 25, 1908, in Aberdeen. Tragically, Mary Ann died during her pregnancy on November 29, 1912.

Samuel joined the local Territorial Force in February 1910 aged 33, when he received his commission. When war broke out in 1914 he was Captain of “G” Company of the 1/5th Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders (Territorial Division). Captain McDonald was promoted to Major in June 1915, shortly after arriving in France.

While on leave he married Jessie Walker, daughter of George Walker, Rope and Sailmaker, and Janet Davidson of 7 Saltoun Place, on October 14, 1915. Samuel and Jessie had at least two sons, Ranald and Gordon.

When he returned to the front he was appointed senior Major of the battalion and was mentioned in despatches after the Battle of Loos. In January 1916 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.) by King George V.

In 1917 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and appointed to the command of the 1/6th Seaforth Highlanders, part of the 152nd Infantry Brigade of the HD.

During all his time at the Western Front he regularly corresponded with the Fraserburgh Herald and sent letters of condolence to the families of the men who died.

An Extract from an article in the Fraserburgh Herald, dated January 1, 1918, reads: “Another Honour for Colonel McDonald.

“From the day that Col. McDonald touched the soil of France as Captain of the Broch Gordons till now, he has proved himself to be a fearless warrior and a dashing leader of men. In 1915 he signalled his promotion to the rank of Major by making a daring excursion into a Hun trench and bringing back a flag which has been flaunted in the face of his troops. This trophy now hangs on the wall of Fraserburgh Town Hall. Since his appointment to the command of a battalion of Seaforths his personal bravery and fierce energy have been a by-word among all ranks. Last week he was mentioned in dispatches for his victorious record in the fighting in Flanders; and the D.S.O. Bar has been bestowed on our valiant townsman for services of the highest importance rendered at a critical moment in an advanced position in the suburbs of Cambrai.”

Another article, dated February 26, 1918, stated that Col. McDonald was the only Territorial officer in the British army to win the triple D.S.O. He received the two bars to his D.S.O. from the King in April of that year.

The Lieutenant-Colonel delivered lectures to the residents of Fraserburgh and troops around the Edinburgh area. In August 1918, he was appointed to the command of the 4th Reserve battalion Gordon Highlanders.

When the war was over the courageous soldier received the award of Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (C.M.G.) in 1919 and the Portuguese Order of Avis along with other awards.

On re-entering civilian life he set up practice in Parliament House, Edinburgh. For a time he acted as honorary Sheriff Substitute of Angus and Forfar. He was later transferred to Hamilton, and in 1936 he was promoted to Glasgow as Sheriff Substitute of Lanarkshire. He became Sheriff Substitute of Aberdeen, Kincardine and Banff in 1942.

Sheriff McDonald received the honorary degree of LL.D, (Doctor of Laws) from Aberdeen University in 1951. On April 8, 1952, he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Aberdeen.

Samuel McDonald died in Aberdeen Music Hall on February 20, 1957. He was giving a vote of thanks at a savings rally when he collapsed and was dead on arrival at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. He was 79 years of age and had been sitting in the Court at Stonehaven earlier that day.