Donaldson's membership form


On this day, 100 years ago an IMechE member was killed in action.


Member since 1898; voted to Council 1905; Vice-President 1910; President 1913-1914.

At the outbreak of war he was Director-General, Royal Ordnance Factories, Royal Arsenal (became Chief Technical Adviser to the Ministry of Munitions, Sep 1915).

Wartime posting(s) was/were, Brigadier General, General Staff, Chief Superintendent Ordnance Factories.

Killed on HMS ”Hampshire” en-route to Russia with Lord Kitchener.

1916 Obituary 

Sir HAY FREDERICK DONALDSON, K.C.B., the second son of Sir Stuart A. Donaldson, the first Premier of New South Wales, was born at Sydney on 7th June 1856.

He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, afterwards receiving technical training at the University of Edinburgh.

From 1875 to 1877 he served an apprenticeship at the London and North Western Railway Works, Crewe, under the late Mr. F. W. Webb, and afterwards received further technical training, from 1877 to 1879, at Zurich and at Cambridge.

In 1880 he was employed on Parliamentary work and as engineer in charge of the construction of the Burnley tramways, and in September of the following year was appointed one of the assistant engineers, and shortly after an executive engineer, on the West of India Portuguese Railway and Harbour. During a part of his service here he was in charge of the harbour works at Goa.

In 1887 he returned to England, and was soon appointed by the late Mr. Thomas A. Walker engineer in charge of No. 1 section of the Manchester Ship Canal, which work involved the construction of entrance locks, estuary banks and heavy piling work.

After leaving the Manchester Ship Canal, he was engaged in 1891-2 in private engineering practice, and on 1st January 1893 was appointed Engineer-in-Chief of the London and India Docks Joint Committee, a position which he held until 31st December 1897, when he received the appointment of Deputy Director-General of Ordnance Factories, Woolwich, under the late Sir William Anderson.

Sir William Anderson died in 1898, and during the illness preceding his decease, and after his death, Mr. Donaldson, as he then was, was temporarily in charge of the Royal Ordnance Factories, and in 1899 was appointed Chief Mechanical Engineer.

In 1903, on the retirement of Sir E. Bainbridge, he became Chief Superintendent of the Royal Ordnance Factories. The heavy responsible work, much of it carried on under very trying conditions, greatly taxed his health and strength, added to which were the great demands for guns and munitions for the present War. For his services he received the honour of Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1910, which was followed by that of K.C.B. in 1911.

In September 1915, at the request of Mr. Lloyd George, he temporarily gave up his position at Woolwich in order to act as Technical Adviser at the Ministry of Munitions, and he frequently accompanied the Minister of Munitions on his visits to the chief industrial centres throughout the country; in the autumn he also visited Canada and the United States.

It was as a representative of the Ministry of Munitions that Sir Frederick Donaldson, in company with Mr. Leslie S. Robertson, became a member of the staff of Lord Kitchener on the visit to Russia, whose tragic deaths took place on 5th June 1916 by the sinking of H.M.S. “Hampshire” off the Orkney Islands. Sir Frederick was then nearly sixty years of age. For the purposes of this visit the War Office granted him the relative precedence of a Brigadier-General.

Sir Frederick took an active interest in the work of this Institution, of which he was elected a Member in 1898. He joined the Council in 1905, was a Vice-President in 1910, and occupied the Presidential Chair in 1913-14. During the first year of his Presidency the Institution held its Summer Meeting at Cambridge. This was the first time such a Meeting had been held at one of the older University towns, and, thanks to the admirable arrangements largely organized by the President and his late brother, the Rev. S. A. Donaldson, D.D., then Master of Magdalene and Vice-Chancellor of the University, the Meeting was a great success. At the Summer Meeting in Paris in 1914, about a month before the War broke out, he was at the last moment prevented from attending, owing to urgent matters at Woolwich.

He read a Paper before the Institution in 1903, on “Cutting Angles of Tools,” and gave an instructive Lecture to the Graduates in 1909, on “The Interchangeability of Screw-Threads.”

He took a most active part in developing the system of examination for Graduates and Associate Members, and made most earnest appeals to the members for establishing on a financial basis the Benevolent Fund of the Institution. He was a Member of Council of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and did excellent work in connection with the Engineering Standards Committee, both as a member of the Main Committee and as Chairman of the Sectional Committee on Screw-Threads and Limit-Gauges.

Institution First World War Honour Roll

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Archive, Institution of Mechanical Engineers


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