Moffat-Wilson, Donald (1923-1944)
Sherborne School, UK, Book of Remembrance for former pupils who died in the Second World War, 1939-1945.
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Credit: Sherborne School Archives, Abbey Road, Sherborne, Dorset, UK, DT9 3AP.
Details: Donald Moffat Moffat-Wilson (1923-1944), born 14 February 1923, son of Guy Burgo Moffat-Wilson and Edith Moffat-Wilson, of Trentham, Stillorgan, Dublin, Irish Republic, later of Albyn, Home Farm Estate, Northchurch, Hertfordshire. His brother Pilot Officer Guy Patrick Hamilton Moffat-Wilson also died in service (3 December 1944).
Attended Sherborne Preparatory School.
Attended Sherborne School (Lyon House) May 1937-July 1941; 6th form; School Prefect; 1st Class Athletics; XXX Blazer; PT Instructor with Badge; Sergeant in JTC; member of Duffers.
WW2, Pilot Officer, 165 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR). Killed in action over the Brest Peninsula on 12 June 1944, aged 21.
Bayeux War Cemetery, Calvados, France, XVIII. F. 4. Inscription on his headstone: ‘BELOVED SON OF GUY AND EDITH MOFFAT-WILSON. IN PROUD AND LOVING MEMORY’ www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2328313/moffat-wilson...
Sherborne School: War Memorial Staircase; Book of Remembrance; Lyon House War Memorial.
Obituary, 'The Shirburnian', July 1945: 'Donald Moffat-Wilson, Flying Officer, R.A.F. (g, '37-'41), came to Sherborne from the Prep. where he had shown himself a promising footballer and was also a King's Scout. At one time it looked as though he must get into the XV, but knee trouble intervened and the promise did not materialise. He was in the School boxing team and was a School Prefect and a promising mathematician. On leaving he went to a Scottish University, where one of the authorities later declared him to be the finest character he had met. He came back from his training in America quite unspoiled and started "what he had always wanted to do and dreamed about." In a sweep over France last June he was shot down and nothing has been heard since. His Squadron Leader has told of the respect and affection with which he was regarded.'
Extracts from A.H. Trelawny-Ross, 'Their Prime of Life' (1956):
p.301, 1944: 'Donald Moffat-Wilson, now 'Missing', wrote saying that he was doing what he had always wanted to do and had dreamed about. Of his early operations (flying) he says: "I was fresh from Training Command, but it takes more than that to lead in action and there is no short cut; everything must be experienced first-hand if it is going to be remembered". Sound stuff indeed.'
p.370, 'Donald Moffat-Wilson, Flying Officer, RAF (1937-41). Came to us from the Prep, where he had shown himself a promising footballer and was also a King's Scout. At one time it looked as though he must get into the XV, but knee trouble intervened and the promise did not materialise. He was in the School Boxing team and was a School Prefect and a promising mathematician. On leaving he went to a Scottish University where one of the authorities declared him to be the finest character he had met. He came back from his training in America quite unspoiled and started "what he had always wanted to do and dreamed about." In a sweep over France last June he was shot down and nothing has been heard of him since, except that his plane grounded, skidded and burst into flames. His Squadron Leader has told of the "respect and affection" with which he was regarded and his many friends will endorse that.'
Two essays written by D. Moffat-Wilson about the bombing of Sherborne on 30 September 1940:
‘Bomb Experiences. It was not the first Monday afternoon siren in the term and I was pretty “fed-up” missing a favourite lesson for the second time. My form had descended to the classroom below where another form was enjoying a maths lesson. After about a quarter of an hour the drone was heard, & the master murmured something about the hum of Heinkels, and then went on with the maths – but not for long. In the distance we heard a series of “crumps” which made each boy dive under his desk. Then thirty seconds of concentrated hell, and it was over. After about five minutes the Headmaster, clad in a dressing gown, looked in to see if anybody was hurt – no one was, though the room had been sprayed with glass. When the bomb landed in the road outside the Carrington Buildings I didn’t feel too happy; but when I heard the next one whistling down I thought the end really had come. It missed me by about fifteen yards, at which I was very much relieved. It was only during the few seconds in which this bomb was falling that I was really frightened; before it, I was definitely thrilled, and after it I seemed to think it funny, which is rather strange. I suppose my nerves had had a bit of a wrench, and I may have been feeling very slightly hysterical. Anyway it has taught me to fear nothing but a direct hit.’
‘Impressions of September 30th 1940. I suppose I will never forget this day as long as I live; every detail is printed indelibly in my memory, probably because it was the first time that I had been “under fire”. I have had similar experiences since, and they have left me quite undisturbed, and my nerves perfectly sound. I feel I will never have any more fear, actual fear, of German bombs; it has been all knocked out of me by the thoughts of those bombs which rained unmercifully on “Little Old Sherborne” on that sultry September afternoon. On looking back, I was not nearly so surprised as I should have been when I saw so many familiar sights shattered and blasted unmercifully. I seem to have taken the whole procedure rather as a matter of course, owing, I expect, to the fact that my nerves were too much jangled to allow me to concentrate on any one subject for any length of time. I remember making my way up to Lyon House, carefully avoiding trailing telegraph wires, and do not seem to have been very surprised at finding three craters in the road past the House, and one side of the Girls’ School Sanatorium missing. But as darkness fell I was aware of a feeling of terrible depression, brought on, I expect, by the prospect of no bed, no water, and candlelight – and perhaps more than anything, by the disorder on all sides. That night was, for me, the most miserable I have ever spent, till 4.14am, when the two time bombs exploded, and I fell into a sound sleep till morning. The strain of the next few days was greatly increased by the task of trying to concentrate on school work and routine. The masters seemed infatiguable, as if they did not know what had happened, though it must have been worse for them with all the responsibilities on their shoulders, especially the housemasters. For the next ten days I had to take the occupants of my dormitory (twenty ”Babies”) across the fields and along the road to The Green, hoping against hope that the siren would not utters its piercing wail before we reached our sleeping quarters. Luckily it never did. My impressions of the bombing are, then, cold fear as the bombs whistled to earth; immediate reaction of excitement and laughter, cheerfulness till night-fall, which brought exhaustion and nervousness with it; and for the next few days cheerfulness, but finding it very difficult to concentrate.’