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Bruce McDonald 820 Sqn – Bruce during his training on the Avenger 1944
Father and Son, Bruce McDonald and Roger McDonald
Bruce McDonald
HMS Indefatigable
Members of 820 NAS on HMS Indefatigable


Published: 13 Jun 2016

When former Royal Navy pilot Bruce McDonald (91) first flew an Avenger aircraft, it was a Carrier Launched Torpedo Bomber, developed by the United States Navy and used by the British to attacking the Japanese in the Far East.


72 years later and Bruce’s son Roger, himself a veteran pilot on 750 Naval Air Squadron is showing him around the Royal Navy’s latest inheritor of the famous Avenger name.


My Avenger was a lot more straight forward to fly back in World War Two,” said Bruce, after getting airborne with Roger at 750 Naval Air Squadron’s families day. “There was a lot less gadgets and dials to look at and we flew a lot in formations as a squadron or as a much bigger Wing on occasions.”


Bruce started flying in the Fleet Air Arm at the latter part of WW2 and by 1944; he was heading to 820 NAS as part of the British Pacific Fleet. They were sent out to the Far East to add Royal Naval firepower to the Americans and their attacks on the Imperial Japanese forces occupying large parts of Asia.

I joined HMS Indefatigable as part of her Carrier Air Group. We had Grumman Avengers on 820, but she also flew Seafires and Helcats and took part in the Palembang raids and attacks on Japanese airfield at the end of the war. After the War I carried on flying with the Royal Naval Reserve.


Roger has been with 750 NAS for many years and after a long and distinguished career with the Commando Junglies flying Wessex and Sea Kings at RNAS Yeovilton, has flown British Aerospace Jetstream and now the King Air 350ER twin-turboprop Avenger. The Squadron is responsible for teaching RN Observers using airborne navigation systems, sensor management and operate an aircraft in all weathers before being streamed to one of the Royal Navy’s maritime helicopter types.


The Families Day flight allowed the pair to share some of the joys of flying from RNAS Culdrose and took in some of the coastal sights around Cornwall. “It was very, very pleasant today we flew above, below through the cloud which is always pretty spectacular,” said Bruce when they landed. 


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