Lt. Neil Edward McDonald, MM (seated in the image) was born to Neil and Mary McDonald, in Sydenham Township, Ontario, on July 20th, 1893. "Ed" as he was known, completed his education at the Owen Sound Collegiate Institute and upon graduation, returned to work on his father's farm. Ed then taught at a local country school house for five months, before joining the postal department as a clerk, in 1911.

On March 24th, 1916, Ed enlisted with the 147th Battalion, quickly rising to the rank of Sergeant, before sailing with the unit in November of that year. On September 23rd, 1917, he reverted to the rank of Private at his own request and was transferred to the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles the same day. By the end of October 1917 he had been promoted to Corporal.

In the fall of 1917, Corporal McDonald saw action at Passchendaele. He wrote home to his friend Minnie McKerrol about his experience:

"Was out on rest for a few days and they were well earned rest days too because we had just finished a very strenuous trip to the front line....a trip which no doubt is responsible for Grey County and Owen Sound having so many sorrow stricken homes tonight. It was the trip that brought to an end Jack Campbell, Jaffray Eaton, George Ewens and Charlie Findlay's military careers. I certainly do feel for the home folks in Canada. We do not notice it so much over here or if we do we look on such things in a different light. A fellow gets hardened to such things - he has simply got to. As for myself, I never will know how I came through it without a scratch. Talk about an experience....but I never will be able to erase the scene and scenes from my memory."

On April 22nd, 1918, Corporal Ed McDonald was awarded the Military Medal for his part in a reconnaissance raid that the 4th CMR conducted near Loos. Ed was also commissioned, in the field, on account of his deeds that day. After completing his Officer Training Course at Bexhill, England, he subsequently returned to the 4th CMR as a qualified Lieutenant.

Lieutenant Ed McDonald continued serving with the unit through some of the last battles of the war. It was during the "Pursuit to Mons", while the 4th CMR was breaching the Canal de l'Escaut, that he was wounded, on November 4th, 1918, a week before the Armistice was signed.

Between the two World Wars, Ed continued serving in the Canadian Militia, rising to command the Grey Regiment, as a Lieutenant-Colonel. During the reorganization of the Canadian Army in 1936, Lieutenant-Colonel McDonald had the distinction of being the last commanding officer of the Grey Regiment and the first commanding officer of The Grey and Simcoe Foresters, at the time the two regiments amalgamated. After his tenure as the commanding officer Ed retired from the military, transferring to the reserve of officers. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War, Ed came out of retirement to command the Second Battalion, The Grey and Simcoe Foresters of the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps.

Mr. McDonald rose to become the Post Master of Owen Sound and was active in community life: a member of Division St. United Church and the Owen Sound Rotary Club. He served as a master of the North Star Masonic Lodge and was a life member of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired) Neil Edward McDonald passed away on December 2nd, 1974, and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Owen Sound.

Incidentally, Ed's two brothers, Capt. Hugh Mackay MacDonald* (standing in the above image), Canadian Army Medical Corps, and 3317881 Pte. Gilbert Findlay McDonald, 8th Reserve Battalion, both served in the CEF and both, like Ed, survived the war.

[* spelling as confirmed by his own signature on his full service file]

Biography and image credit and thanks to George Auer, and to Ed's daughter, Jane Milne.