Donald Margach and Guy Gibson

Donald Sinclair Margach was a bomb aimer from Edinburgh, who died in July 1944 when serving with 582 Squadron of the Pathfinders.

Previously, in 1943, Donald had served on 106 Squadron at RAF Coningsby and RAF Syerston. At that time, the squadron was commanded by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, and in the image above Gibson can be seen on the far left of the picture and Margach on the far right.

The image shown is a detail from the famous photograph of 106 Squadron which appears in Gibson’s book Enemy Coast Ahead (modern edition, Crécy Classics). The large version of the photograph used here is owned by the niece of Donald Margach. It was clearly folded in half at one stage but is now mounted and framed. 

Margach did not go with Gibson when he formed 617 Squadron, which in May 1943 carried out Operation Chastise, the audacious raid on the Ruhr dams. 617 Squadron was part of 5 Group; its base for the dams raid was Scampton in Lincolnshire.

Donald with his wife Greta and daughter Alison, early 1944, in the garden of their house

As Margach’s service record is not available, it is not known how he came to be with 582 Squadron of the Pathfinders. He lost his life, aged 32, on 29 July 1944 whilst flying with Squadron Leader Coleman’s crew. He is buried at Durnbach. The details of his last operation are below.

One of the few surviving photographs of Donald show him with a Lancaster crew. There are no names or dates, but it is possible that this was the Coleman crew. Donald is second from left.

All photographs on this page: RPA/Allan Brocklebank; ORB image: RPA)

(NOTE 13 June 2021: Our thanks are due to Clive Smith, who specialises in 106 Squadron, for pointing out that Donald ‘flew mainly at RAF Syerston as they moved there on 1st Oct 1942’, and for other information and updates.)