Col JP Macdonald Suffolk Regiment

Obituary for Colonel JP Macdonald

James Patrick Macdonald died on 22 October 2006. He grew up and went to school in Bury St Edmunds where, perhaps more importantly, he met Sue.

He enlisted into the Suffolk Regiment in 1949 and was commissioned from RMA Sandhurst in 1951. He joined 1 SUFFOLKS in Malaya in early 1952 where he served as a platoon commander in anti-terrorist operations. He accompanied the Battalion to Trieste and BAOR where he was the last officer to carry the old six-foot Queen’s Colour when those 108 years old Colours were retired in May 1955.

In 1958 he was appointed Adjutant of 1 CAMBS. From 1958 to 1962 he served with the Intelligence Staff with the RWAFF in Nigeria and with HQ 3 Division at Bulford. On return to regimental duty he went to British Guyana with 1 E ANGLIAN and after a break with intelligence staff in Brunei, he was OC HQ Company until going to the Staff College in 1964. In 1967, after a staff tour with HQ Eastern District, he joined 1 R ANGLIAN in Celle where he commanded A Company. In 1969 he was appointed the Infantry Representative at RSA Larkhill until joining 2 R ANGLIAN in 1971 as Second-in-Command in Munster and Ireland.

His career so far had been unexceptional but on promotion to Lieutenant Colonel he began a nine-year association with the diplomatic/intelligence world as Naval and Military Attaché in Warsaw. A tour with the DIS followed and then he went as Defence Attaché to Bucharest. There was a final intelligence job in MOD before he retired in 1983. His time behind the Iron Curtain at a pretty cold time of the Cold War was perhaps the most fulfilling time of his career when his keen and questioning intelligence, uncompromising attitude to what he saw as his duty and determination to fight his corner for his point of view were at their most valuable.

After leaving the army he worked for the British Red Cross and for the East Anglian TAVRA. He was Deputy Honorary Colonel(TA) for Cambridgeshire from 1988 to 1995. However, he had many other interests which eventually took over his time. He wrote a book ‘Darkness into Light’ about the RAF Balkan Airforce which was very well received by the surviving veterans and the families of those lost in the operations. He was a church warden, an active member of the Cambridgeshire ABF Committee and a member of several historical groups. Above all he was a great servant of the Suffolk Regiment Association. He was Chairman of the OCA 1985-2001, a trustee of both the Museum and the Regiment United Charity and a very active member of the Hillman Committee. As the latter he organised, with Frank Matthews, the annual pilgrimages to Normandy and Holland for some ten years. His efforts were greatly appreciated by the surviving veterans, their families and the families of some who did not return as well as Les Amis du Suffolk Regiment in Normandy.

He is survived by Sue, his wife of 51 years, his daughter Sarah and sons Charles and Fraser.