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1914 trio – Royal Marine Brigade, present at Ostend and Dunkirk 1914

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1914 trio – Royal Marine Brigade, present at Ostend and Dunkirk 1914

1914 Star, R.M.A. 6086. Gunner. A. [sic] A. Mc.Donald, R.M. Brigade.; British War and Victory Medals, R.M.A. 6086 Gr. J. A. Mc Donald. mounted as worn.

John Allan McDonald was born in Edinburgh on 7 December 1876 and joined the Royal Marine Artillery on 9 June 1896.

He transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve on 29 October 1904, but was recalled for War service on 2 August 1914.

He served with the Royal Marine Brigade during the Great War on the Western Front, at Ostend from 27 to 31 August 1914, and at Dunkirk from 7 to 12 October 1914.

He was demobilised on 10 April 1919.

Two Royal Marine Battalions landed at Ostend in the early morning of 27 August and a third the next day(Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth Battalions)

They were ordered to hold the town until Belgian troops who had retreated into France could be transferred and 4,000 Belgian troops arrived on 30 August. The rapid Allied retreat led the War Office to decide that supplies would have to be brought through ports in western France, as the existing arrangements in the Pas de Calais ports were too exposed. This would be more demanding on naval escort ships, leaving too few to support the force at Ostend. The Marines were re-embarked on 31 September and returned to their ports.

On 20 September it arrived at Dunkirk with orders to assist in the defence of Antwerp. The two other Brigades moved to Dunkirk for the same purpose on 5 October 1914. In the haste to organise and move the units to Belgium, 80% went to war without even basic equipment such as packs, mess tins or water bottles. No khaki uniform was issued. The two Naval Brigades were armed with ancient charger-loading rifles, just three days before embarking. The Division was originally titled the Royal Naval Division, and was formed in England in September 1914. At this stage, it had no artillery, Field Ambulances or other ancillary units.

RND units that managed to successfully withdraw from Antwerp returned to England, arriving 11 October 1914. Approximately 1,500 troops of the 1st Royal Naval Brigade crossed the Dutch frontier to escape from Antwerp and were interned in the Netherlands.

Condition – VF