Battalion 2nd Battalion
Regiment 2nd Gurkha Rifles
|Lieutenant||13th Battalion Rifle Brigade|
In the Parish magazine for February 1915, a list was published of those who were serving. That list included the names of Lieut Arthur Donaldson of the 13th Rifle Brigade, and Lieut Eric Donaldson (with no information about his regiment). We assume that these men are related but have not been able to a link to Collingham.
With the information that Arthur Leslie Donaldson served in the 13th Rifle Brigade we were able to find his Medal Record Card, which gave an address of Southfield, Newton Abbot, Devon. From that we were able to find that Arthur Leslie Donaldson was born on the 10th April 1893 in Newton Abbott, Devon, the son of Thomas William Donaldson and his wife Ethel Laura Donaldson (nee Frewer). By the date of the census in 1911, Arthur is aged 17 and is living at 20 College Road, Newton Abbott with his parents, brothers (Eric Lockwood Donaldson b ~1891, and John Henry Donaldson b. 17 Dec 1906) and sister Marjorie Donaldson (b. ~1899) and a general domestic servant. Arthur's father is a solicitor, his eldest brother Eric Lockwood Donaldson, is a bank clerk and the others are at school.
Arthur may have started a career as a solicitor as we found that he was articled to B.D. Webster of Newton Abbott.
However Arthur Leslie Donaldson made his career as an army officer. We think he became a 2nd Lieut in the Devonshire Regiment according to the London Gazette of 2nd June 1912, but he served in World War 1 at first in the Rifle Brigade. Arthur was commissioned as an Officer on the 4th May 1915. He was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1914-15 Star for his service which started overseas when he went to France on the 29th July 1915. He served with the 13th Battalion Rifle Brigade from that date to November 1916. According to Arthur's later Army service record, he was wounded at some stage of the war, and we have found a record that Capt Arthur Leslie Donaldson, of the 13th Rifle Brigade, was admitted to Queen Alexandra's Military Hospital at Millbank on the 20th November 1916 with a wound to his shoulder.
Arthur remained at Millbank until the 13th December 1916 when he was transferred to Ridley Hospital. Lady Ridley's Hospital for Officers was at 10 Carlton House Terrace, just off the Mall, in London. How long he stayed there, when he returned to service and with which unit is unknown, however in 1918 we know that he transferred to the 2/2nd Gurkha Rifles and later joined the British Indian Army. His record mentions NWF from 13th March 1918 to 20th May 1918 - this is likely to be the Indian North West Front
Arthur first arrived in India on the 22nd January 1918, joining the Indian Army on probation in the 2nd Battalion 2nd Gurkha Rifles. Between the 13th March and the 16th April 1918 Arthur's Battalion took part in the Operations against the Marris and in 1919 in the Third Afghan War.
After the war, Arthur Leslie Donaldson remained in the Indian Army.
By January 1920, the 2/2nd Gurkha Rifles were at Hyderabad (Sind) but by April had moved to Dehra Dun. The following year, Arthur was promoted to the rank of Captain and the Battalion had moved to Landi Khana, on the westernmost point of the British in India near the top of the Khyber Pass. Around this time, Arthur was granted 'long leave' of 8 months. This was a tradition of the Indian Army and British Officers often used these leave periods to return to the UK. Arthur arrived in Liverpool on the 13th May 1921 from Bombay. In 1922, Arthur was back in India at Landi Kotal with the 2/2nd Gurkha Rifles. The Battalion moved between Landi Khana (April) and Landi Kotal (October) in 1923 and then moved to its base in Dehra Dun on the 13th October 1923.
Captain Arthur Donaldson had another 'long leave', this time for a year from April 1925 to 7th April 1926, returning to his unit when they had moved to Razmak (they arrived on the 24th February 1926). The Battalion stayed there until 25th March 1928, when they returned to Dehra Dun.
Arthur was also in the UK in November 1926, as in that month he married Phyllis Mary Turner:
Around the 16th February 1929, Arthur became the Adjutant of the 1st Battalion The Bengal Nagpur Railway Regiment in Khargpur, a post he held until 1931 when he was granted another 8 month 'long leave'.
In April 1933, Arthur seems to be back with the 2/2nd Gurkha Rifles in Majakand (Malakand) before heading back to Dehra Dun on the 30th October 1934. Around this time, Arthur was promoted to the rank of Major, and had a leave period of 8 months to the 31st October 1935, prior to transfer to the Special Unemployed Indian Army List on the 1st November 1935, having served 20 years. Arthur was given a date until which he was liable to recall to service of the 10th April 1943. During this leave, Arthur returned to the UK, as we have found that he arrived in the UK on the TSS Tuscania on the 30th April 1935 from Bombay.
Whatever plans Arthur might have had for his retirement from the Army were shattered by the Second World War, and he seems to have been immediately recalled to the 2/2nd Gurkha Rifles and then (13th December 1939) made the Adjutant of the The Bareilly Corps comprising HQ, The Bareilly Contingent and No 18 (Bareilly) Field Battery, RA of the Auxiliary Force India (AFI).
Around the 23rd July 1940, Arthur was moved again, this time to be the Senior Supervising Officer of the Sree Nath Regiment of the Nepalese Contingent. Arthur remained in this post until 1944 when he was promoted to the rank of Temporary Lieutenant Colonel and became the Officer Commanding the Indian Reinforcement Camp, a post he held until 1946.
Arthur would have been awarded medals for his service in World War 2, but those records are not yet publicly available. However The London Gazette announced on the 24th January 1946, that The King had been 'pleased to grant unrestricted permission for the wearing' to Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Leslie Donaldson of The Most Refulgent Order of the Star of Nepal, Third Class Honorary (with the title of Manyavara Nepal Tara) in recognition of distinguished services in the cause of the Allies.
We are not sure what happened to Arthur after the Second World War.
Biography last updated 04 February 2021 18:16:59.
1911 Census. The National Archives. Class RG14 Piece 12752
The Collingham Parish Magazine Feb 1915
First World War Medal Index Cards. The National Archives (WO372).
First World War Medal Index Rolls. The National Archives (WO329).
Indian Army Lists 1919 to 1946
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