William McDonald was born in Fraserburgh in 1895, the youngest son of John McDonald who was a policeman, later posted to Bridge of Don, so William began his golfing career as assistant and clubmaker there at Balgownie (Royal Aberdeen).
In August 1914 he became professional at Duff House Royal, the Banff club. The local Aberdeen paper, the Evening Express, reported, 'He is a fine player with a good style and, for a first attempt, made an excellent appearance at the professional tournaments at Balgownie and Cruden Bay this year. He is also a clever clubmaker and ought to develop into a useful instructor.He has already reduced the record for the Duff House course.'
In December of that year he enlisted in the 4th Bn, Gordon Highlanders with his brother and they went to France with the first draft of the Gordons in March 1915.
On 25 September 1915 he was missing, as was his brother Fred. The CSM of C Company of the 4th Gordons wrote to their father saying he hoped they might turn up, as several others had done, but noted one brother had been in the pioneer squad most of whom had been killed.
It was ultimately decided that Private William McDonald had been killed in action on 25 September 1915. A later letter from the chaplain, Rev P D Thomson, to PC MacDonald, William's father, stated he was seen to fall in front of the first German trench and the general impression was that he was dead. One of the sergeants, in passing, saw him, and reported he was dead. On the second anniversary (September 1917) there was an in memoriam notice to him placed in the Evening Express by his father, ‘missing presumed dead at Hooge’, so perhaps still holding out some hope.
With no known grave, he is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) memorial.
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