Vice Admiral Sir Roderick “Roddy” Macdonald KBE
Written by Campbell de Burgh from information held on file and gleaned from obituaries.
One of the first members of the RNPS, Admiral Macdonald was one of its strongest supporters. He learnt to play pipes as a boy at Fettes College, taught by P/M James Sutherland, who later composed the 6/8 march “Roddy Macdonald, Fettes College” as tribute to his ability.
Sir Roddy joined the Navy in 1939, first serving as a midshipman in the battleship HMS Valiant and then the destroyer HMS Fortune where he experienced one of the nastiest Commanding Officer’s it was possible to know and which prompted him to write the book “The Figurehead” in 1993. Between 1943 and 1946 he served in the destroyers Meynell, Goathland and Cockade, followed by the battleship HMS Vanguard and finally his first command, the corvette HMS Leeds Castle. Later, when serving in HMS Belfast his captain mentioned in his report that “Macdonald played the pipes”, which drew a comment from the Admiralty that “adverse reports should be underlined in red ink”! After several commands including the aircraft carrier HMS Implacable he was promoted to Flag Rank in 1973. He was appointed KBE in 1978 a year before he retired and after nearly 40 years service.
Retiring to his home in Skye in 1979 he took over as Convenor of the Skye Games and then became Chieftain of Games and a trustee of Clan Donald Lands Trust. As President of the Isle of Skye Piping Society he also inspired the memorial to Donald Macdonald of Glenhinnisdale where an annual ceremony now takes place. The picture above shows Sir Roddy on the left presenting the Rothiemurchus Trophy to Murray Henderson, winner of the clasp at the Northern Meeting in 1995. He is shown wearing one of the first of the new bonnet badges produced by John Haynes for the revived RNPS.
Sadly Sir Roddy died in 2001 and by request Bill Gass, representing the RNPS, played “Sir Roderick Macdonald’s March” and “Roddy Macdonald of Glencorse” at the memorial service held in All Hallows by the Tower (of London) on 6th April that year. With Bill's support, it was Sir Roddy together with the original founder, David Mellis, who finally persuaded me to revive the Society in 1993.