Sword presentation to the Royal Marine Corps at Royal Marines Museum

Sword of Major Alastair Donald, Royal Marines is presented to the Corps
At the instigation of the Royal Marines Historical Society, the sword of Major Alastair Donald, Royal Marines, was presented to the Corps by his wife, Rosemary, at the Royal Marines Museum on 23 June 2015, to be worn - in perpetuity - by the Corps Regimental Sergeant Major Phil Gilby.
 
He said:  “It is a great honour to receive the sword, to be used in this position for years to come”
 
 
Major Donald was a very long serving Royal Marine, including being Aide de Camp(ADC) to the late Lord Mountbatten and then was a founding Member of the Royal Marines Historical Society and a staunch supporter of the Friends of RMM.  
Rosemary Donald said:
 
“ This is a unique occasion for me and my family to present the sword to the Corps RSM.  Alastair would have been so proud of this.  For a former Royal Marine to be honored in this way is important, not just for us but for the wider Corps family.  We are delighted that his personal sword should go to the Royal Marines and be used in perpetuity”.
 
 
The sword was presented by Colonel Michael Reece, Chairman of the Royal Marines Historical Society and Royal Marines Museums (RMM) Trustee to RSM Phil Gilby, the current Corps Regimental Sergeant Major, and also an RMM Trustee.
 
The citation reads: 
 
Major Alastair Donald embodied the ethos of the Royal Marines. He nurtured and promoted our traditions through a most active stewardship and propagation over more than half a century, for the benefit of those who served and who will serve.
 
From schooldays he was determined upon a career in the Royal Marines. He served as an HO Officer (hostilities only) in the last year of the Second World War.  After the war he rejoined the Corps in the ranks and gained a Corps Commission in 1948. He saw active service with 40 and 45 Commandos in Malaya and Aden.
 
Then, as the Adjutant of RMR Bristol and Parade Adjutant at Stonehouse Barracks, he swiftly became a byword in the Corps for his personal commitment in ensuring the highest standards of excellence in the performance of ceremonial. Amongst many other events he supervised the RM contingent for the lying in state of Sir Winston Churchill.
 
In view of his singular qualities, in 1968 Major Donald was appointed as Aide de Camp to Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Life Colonel Commandant of the Royal Marines. When Lord Mountbatten was assassinated in 1978, Alastair bore many of Lord Louis’ decorations, in the funeral cortege.
 
Major Donald’s interest in the maintenance of our traditions became - over time - legendary. In 1968 he assumed the recently created role of Corps Historian. He continued in that appointment, first as a serving officer, then civil servant, finally as the first Royal Marines Historical Records Officer.
 
In 1964, Alastair co-founded the Royal Marines Historical Society and served the Council in many capacities. He was Chairman from 2000 until 2002, when he was elected Vice President. He was a prolific contributor to the Society’s publications, most notably his “ The Colours of the Royal Marines” ( 2001) and “The Short History of the Royal Marines”, in its 4th Edition in 2015. Since 2003 the Short History has been issued to every Young Officer and Recruit early in their training.
 
Over half a century Major Donald was the invaluable arbiter to whom so many in the Royal Marines turned  for sage advice and a firm steer on all matters ceremonial. He was recognised as the guardian of our ceremonial traditions until his death in March 2014; such is his legacy.   
 

Royal Marines Museum