Hamish Macdonald

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Hamish Maconald
Born Jan. 1st. 1901.
Maryport, Cumberland, England.
Died Sydney N.S,W. Australia.
Nationality British / Australian
Occupation Marine Engineer
Employer China Navigation Co.
Spouse(s) Lydia.
Children Son, "Sandy" A.H.MacDonald


After an apprenticeship with J.L.Thorneyroft & Co. Hamish joined the Cunard Line. and as 23rd / 22nd Engineer on the S.S. Mauritania. On joining, his initial station on standby when entering and leaving port was looking after the propellor shaft bearings etc. Ater 3 1/2 years with the Cunard line he obtained his 2nd class cerificate (steam) No. 65708. During the oral examination the examiner asked him what was the material used in bilge pipework, he replied copper, to which the examiner replied;- " you are another engineer from the "Mauritania"

January 5th. 1928. Joined the service of The China Navigation Co. and stayed with the company until his retirement on July 16th. 1967.


During the first tour of duty he sailed as 3/E and 2/E, as required, on the following vessels:- "Kanchow", "Kiukiang", "Ngankin" "Soochow II", "Kalgan II", "Szechuen II", "Tatung I", "Shansi I", "Taming", "Ichang II", "Linan", "Kaying", "Shuntien I", "Shengking II", "Nanning II". He was 2/E on the "Shenking II" when she went aground for 5 days, on Chemeng Island on June 12th. 1932.

March 14th 1931. Took 6 months local leave in Shanghai, obtaining his 1st class B.O.T. Certificate (Steam.) No. 72058. in Southhampton on Nov. 11 1931. He travelled to the U.K. by the Trans Siberian railway to Moscow thence by European railways. The choice to travel overland was that it only took between 10 to 12 days, which was considerably quicker than the time taken by ship which was approximately 4 weeks. After local leave he sailed as 2/E on the "Chengtu I ".

25th. Sept.1933. Proceeded on home leave and travelled by the "Empress of Russia" to the U.K. In rhe early 1960's he related that while in the U.K. he obtained his pilots licence (Aircraft) with the idea of taking up a career in civil aviation, however abandoned the idea after seeing the number of qualified and experienced pilots chasing the few jobs available. View Images Section below.

On return from leave on 26th.Aug.1934, he sailed as 2/E and C/E on the following vessels;- "Kintang", "Taming", "Suiyang", "Kiungchow", "Hoihow II", "Shantung II", "Yochow II, "Hupeh II", "Nanchang II", "Wantung", "Whangpu", and "Tatung".

February 1st 1939. His pay and rank as Chief Engineer effective from this date and placed on the "On Turn" List

March 1st. 1940. Proceeded on 6 months Home Leave to Canada. (at Shanghai).

September 1st 1940. He returned from leave and served on the following vessels :- "Hsin Peking I" ,"Wan Yuan" ,"Soochow II", "Whangpu", ""Shuntien II", "Hanyang II", "Hunan II", , "Nanchang II", "Nanning II", "Ninghai II", "Wantung", "Anhui II".

August 27th. 1941. Unfortunately he spent 6 days in hospital in Shanghai, with a bad bout of influenza.

August 1943. Obtained his Motor endorsment to his Ist class B.O.T. Certificate in Sydney.

Refer to the "Anhui II" re-escape from Manilla when his wife and son were interned for the duration of the war by the Japanese.

September 9th. 1944. Hamish was placed on the substantive list as Chief Engineer, with an acting time of 1 year, 9 months and 25 days.

In March 1945, He was placed in Reserve and went on long leave before returning to the "Foochow III" and "Yochow II" , prior to taking Home Leave to the U.K. N.B. this time the leave passages were by air. While in the U.K. during his acuumulated leave, he stood by the construction, at Scotts Shipyard in Greenock, of the "Sinkiang II" for a short period, eventually arriving back in Far East on April 1st 1947, this time returning on the "Benlawers" to Singapore.

After returning from his long leave in 1951, when he and his family moved to Manly, he sailed as C/E mainly on the "Soochow III" with a short time on the "Sinkiang II" and on the "Shansi II". These 3 vessels being on the NGAL service from Sydney to T.P.N.G. and occasionally the B.S.I.P. (Solomon Islands).

In 1956 Spent a week in Rabaul hospital, after suffering from a slipped disc.

July 16th. 1967. Retired. After a trip to the U.K. the Company presented him with gold watch, which was suitably inscribed, for 39 years service.

Events / Stories

For some unknown reason he had a strong aversion to wearing a uniform. In February 1956, Sir John Kinloch noted "He will still not wear a uniform".

"Soochow memories". About 1962 when chatting to Jack Winton who was 2/E at the time, he opened his wardrobe door and with a big grin on his face showed him his "blues" uniform said "You didn't know I had one of these did you !!!" In the cooler weather he would wear a pair of grey trousers and a white shirt socks and shoes. In the tropics he wore white shorts, short socks and shoes. Hamish had his meals brought to his cabin where he ate by himself.

On joining the Soochow on April 18th. 1961, Jack Winton 2/E introduced me to the C/E (Hamish) who shook my hand but just looked me up and down but never said a word. Afterwards Jack in his broad Glasgow accent said to me "That's the chief, he disnae smoke, he disnae drink, he disnae gang wi' bad wimen, and he disnae speak tae ye". In all it took about a month before he actually addressed me. After a few months as he got to know you he would become quite chatty and reminisce re Shanghai pre war and earlier times. He would make a tour of the engine room every day 09.10 hrs. and again at 21.00 hrs. and seldom speak to the 4/E on watch. Every morning and mid afternoon he would walk up and down the deck by Nos. 3 and 4 hatches for about an hour. When in Port Moresby, quite often early morning about 06.00 hrs., weather permiting, it was off to the golf course for a round of golf, either by himself or with anyone else who was interested. Although a non-drinker, he always had some on hand for the shore-side visitors, although when in Sydney they weren't encouraged to stay long as wanted to be at home.

Once, upon arriving in Sydney he received a letter from Hong Kong informing him that his fuel consumption was wrong - by about 1 gallon - and he came into the mess room and asked us (engineers) if we had a sample of fuel oil as supplied when receiving bunkers, which we gave him. He was most irate that "some clerk in Hong Kong who had nothing better to do with his time than worry about 1 gallon of fuel oil". Hamish intended to send the tin of fuel oil to Hong Kong with a note that this "would balance the records". As far as could be ascertained Hong Kong never replied !!

Alistair Thomson, 4th. & 3rd. Eng. "Soochow"