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SQNLDR Donald H Maclean 404652

Squadron/s457 SQN
Rank On Discharge/Death Squadron Leader (SQNLDR)
Mustering / SpecialisationPilot
Date of Birth18 Dec 1916
Date of Enlistment11 Oct 1940
Date of Death27 Nov 1998
Contributing Author/sEdited: David Hamilton
Author: Steve McGregor
The Spitfire Association

Don was born in Strathfield, Sydney on 18th of December 1916. At the age of nine the family moved to New Guinea, and he was educated at the Rabaul primary school before returning to Sydney to attend Hurlstone Park Agricultural High School.

Back at Rabaul he became a gold prospector and learnt to fly. At the start of the war, he joined the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles but was soon transferred to the RAAF, enlisted 11th of October 1940. After training he was sent to England with 457 squadron and stayed there in 1941-1942. During this time, he shot down three enemy aircraft.

On the squadron returning to Darwin 16th of January 1943, he shot down three Japanese aircraft in the next twelve months and had three probable's and five damaged.

The official RAAF war history records that on 7th of May 1943, 457 squadron had its 'first Australian blooding' when Flight Lieutenant Maclean and Flight Sergeant McDowell made a close-range attack in their Spitfires on a Japanese bomber 24-km from Darwin. 'It plunged into the sea burning fiercely' the history laconically notes.

Don was one of the few who made it through the war with No 457 Squadron. His tour expired in December 1943, and he was posted to No 2 OUT at Mildura in December 1943. He was B Flight leader from 28th of June 1942, succeeding K.E. James and relinquishing his command to J. H. Smithson on 9th of December 1943. He returned to the squadron in August 1945, posted from No 8 OUT to temporarily lead the unit until it disbanded. On 28th of October 1945, Don was posted to No 2 PD.

Don was discharged on the 6th of February 1946.

Following the war, he returned to New Britain to rebuild the family plantation where his father and elder brother had been killed by the Japanese.

He sold the plantation in 1958 and then worked for the Papua New Guinea administration in Rabaul and Medang before returning to Sydney in 1975, becoming one of the members of the founding committee of the Spitfire Association until retirement in 1978.

Don was, for many years, an active Rotarian and RSL member in both New Guinea and Sydney. He died in North Turramurra on 27th of November 1998 and is survived by his second wife Cecile, his children Maxwell, Serena, Christine, and Sonja and nine grandchildren.

Learn more about the squadron/s in which Donald served.

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