Alexander Mackinlay served in the Mercantile Marine in the Great War as a 1st Mate and Ship’s Master operating out of Tilbury Docks, initially in the Clan Graham and, from December 1917, in the Clan MacArthur. In between tow wars he won a medal and diploma from the Institute of de Socorros a Naufragos for saving the crew of the Portuguese fishing vessel Dois Manos off Cape Espichel on 23 December 1931.
At the outbreak of WW2 he was in Australia, where he took command of the Clan MacDonald, and it was for his gallant and skilful command of her on the Malta-run that he was awarded his O.B.E., and more precisely for "Operation Halberd" - and this after earlier participation in "Operation Excess" in January 1941, when Clan Macdonald made a perilous run to Piraeus with a cargo of tanks.
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