On Friday, the Australian Military Representative to NATO and the EU, Rear Admiral Allan Du Toit, attended a service at the Naval Memorial Commemorative Hall in Laboe, Germany, to help launch a display honouring Royal Australian Navy Petty Officer Ronald Allan Heffernan MacDonald DSM, who was lost at sea following enemy action in 1942. The launch marked the first display in the museum’s history which honours the story of an individual foreign serviceman.
Petty Officer MacDonald was serving in the W Class Destroyer HMAS Vampire (I) on the morning of 9 April 1942, when the Australian ship was sunk by Japanese dive bombers, off the coast of Battacaloa, Ceylon. Eight of Vampire’s sailors were lost during the action or died of their wounds, including PO MacDonald who died four days later. He was 24 years old. He is buried at the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon, United Kingdom.
“The inclusion of the story of a foreign serviceman for the first time at Laboe underscores the sweep and purpose of this magnificent memorial, and the strong ties – forged in war and cemented in times of peace – that exists between our two navies,” said RADM Du Toit.
RADM Du Toit was joined at the launch by VADM Heinrich Lange, Deputy Chief German Navy; Herr Karl Heid, President Deutscher Marinebund; and Mr Peter Tesch, Australian Ambassador to Germany. The Laboe Naval Memorial commemorates the sailors of all nationalities who died during the first and second world wars.
Naval Today Staff, April 22, 2013; Image: Australian Navy