Captain Alec Donaldson, O.B.E. Master Mariner, was born in Aberdeen,
Scotland, of seafaring stock, about 1877. Indentured in 1891 for four years apprenticeship with Milne and Co. of Aberdeen, ("Inver Line") he served his time in the barque "Inveresk". Gaining his second mate Ticket he served in the four mast barque "Lynton", (Johnson, Sproule and Co. of Liverpool).
Leaving sail for steam and having a Master's ticket, He served with the Alfred Holt Line, Messrs. Butterfield and Swires, (China Coast), Belfast Steamship Co. Elder Dempster, Pacific Steam Navigation Co., and finally Messrs. Burns Philp and Co. Of Sydney. He served in many of the company's ships as Mate and Master and was in command of the ill fated "Matunga" when captured by the German Commerce Raider " Wolf" in 1917.
On return from prison camps in Germany Captain Donaldson carried on with the Burns Philip to become Commodore Skipper of that Line. Master of the popylar "Marella" on the Sydney - Singapore run for many years, he did magnificent service with his ship at the evacuation of Singapore.
Defying the orders of the Dutch Naval people to evacuate his berth alongside, he remained to take on water and crammed the ship with every available evacuee, steamed unescorted to Fremantle.
He was awarded his O.B.E. for meritorious service at sea.
NOTE. Part of the accompanying diary is probably a self written transcript of a rough diary of his experience in Germany.
During his internment Captain Donaldson kept a day to day diary on a roll of toilet paper. This survived and on his death was given to his nephew for presentation to the War Museum in Canberra.
Cross reference to the above may be had from his book "Fifty Years too Soon'" by Whitcombe and Toombs Pty. Ltd., 1948
Captain Donaldson died in 1949. His ashes were commited to the Torres Straits from the deck of B.P.'s "Burnside". He held a Pilot Exemption for this very tricky passage.
[Transcribed by Eric Hetherington, Margaret Russell and Betty Smith for the State Library of New South Wales]