The Collingham Parish magazine for February 1915 published a list of those associated with the village 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). This lack of information about Eric Donaldson's service has hampered us in identifying Eric and what he did during the Great War. We have to explore two possibilities: that they were related to each other; or that it happened by chance that two men named Donaldson served in the war. Another problem is that we can find no obvious link with Collingham to help us narrow down the possibilities. There is no one named Donaldson in the 1911 census of Collingham.
The Regimental association for Arthur Donaldson (see his page on this site) of the 13th Rifle Brigade, has allowed us to find his medal record card, which contained 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 was aged 17 and was 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. Thus Arthur Donaldson had a brother Eric Lockwood Donaldson, and this could be the man named in the Parish magazine as Lieut Eric Donaldson.
However this identification, if correct, leads to further problems. No one named Eric Lockwood Donaldson was awarded medals for service in the First World War. We are left with the possibility that Eric did not use his middle name on his service record, or that he only served in the UK and therefore was not awarded any medals. We know that Eric (according to the Parish Magazine) was a commissioned officer. There is a record for Captain Eric Donaldson of the Royal Army Medical Corps. This Eric Donaldson, had studied at Charterhouse (where he was in the army cadets), and he also served in Inns of Court MI 1906. In 1909, he went to Trinity College, Cambridge to study medicine and was in the University Officer Training Corps from 1909 to 1912. After Cambridge, Eric went to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, in 1914, where he took the Conjoint diploma and served in the University of London OTC from 1912, and at the start of the war, on the 11th June 1914, Cadet Lance Corporal Eric Donaldson from the University of London Corps joined the 1st London (City of London) Field Ambulance and a month later, on the 11th July he became a Lieut in the Royal Army Medical Corps. Unfortunately, the service record for this Eric Donaldson shows he was born in Chiswick on the 11th January 1889, the son of John Donaldson and his wife Frances Sarah Donaldson (nee Thorneycroft), and hence is not the brother of Arthur Leslie Donaldson.
A search of The National Archives for the Officer's service record for another Eric Donaldson (or an Eric Lockwood Donaldson) does not reveal any suitable record, and this search also rules out that he was a Naval Officer. Eric's service is therefore unidentified.
Interestingly, we have found an incoming passenger's record for Eric Lockwood Donaldson arriving in London on the 26th March 1917 from Penang, Federated Malay State on the ship Suwa Maru. Eric was travelling First Class and gave his occupation as a Planter.
In the summer of 1923, Eric Lockwood Donaldson married Beatrice Mary Stuart Mitchell in the Newton Abott area of Devon and in 1924 they had a son, John Stuart Donaldson. A year later, Eric, Beatrice and John are aboard the ship Mantua bound back to Penang, Eric again giving his trade as a Planter.
Finally, Eric Lockwood Donaldson of Pendock Tonjong Perak, Federated Malay States died on the 20th December 1927.
Which, if either, of these records corresponds to the man named in the Collingham Parish Magazine is, currently, not clear.
Biography last updated 05 February 2020 19:43:32.
1911 Census. The National Archives. Class RG14 Piece 05589
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).
First World War Officer's Service Records WO374/20231 The National Archives.
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