Skip navigation

Saturday August 8, 2009

REGINALD McCARTNEY ('MAC') SAMPLES, CMG, DSO, OBE. (AUGUST 11, 1918 JULY 31, 2009) Mac passed away peacefully, of old age, in his ninety-first year, at Belmont House. Only son of Jessie McCartney and William Samples of Liverpool, England, and Rhyl, North Wales, Mac was born in Liverpool. Pre-deceased by his beloved wife of over fifty years, Elsie, and grandson Graeme Mears. Survived by sons Graeme (Karen) and William, step-daughter Murcia (Trevor) Mears, six grand-children and four great grand-children. Educated at Rhyl Grammar School and Liverpool University, where he earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Mac served in the Fleet Air Arm during WW2 (1940-1946) and while a sub-Lieutenant in 825 Squadron, stationed at Manston, Kent, he was one of the 'Channel Dash Heroes' who flew in the torpedo attack on the German battleships Scharnhorst, and Gneisenau and the battle cruiser Prince Eugen, when they broke out of hiding into the English Channel on Feb. 12, 1942. Hopelessly outnumbered, all six Swordfish aircraft in the squadron were shot down by the warships and several hundred covering aircraft. Only five crewmen survived the action. Mac was badly wounded. He was awarded the 1942 for conspicuous gallantry, presented by King George VI at Buckingham Palace. His Squadron Commander, Eugene Esmonde, was granted a posthumous V.C. After his convalescence Mac was posted to RNAS Fighter Training Station, Yeovilton, Somerset, where he met Elsie Roberts Ellis, whom he married in 1947. After demobilisation in 1946, with no jobs on offer, Mac returned to Liverpool University for a short refresher course in Economics and his degree. In 1947 he joined the Central Office of Information as Economics Editor of Overseas Newspapers, and in 1948 transferred to the Commonwealth Relations Office and was immediately posted as Economic Information Officer to the British Deputy High Commission in Bombay, India. Three years later Elsie contracted polio and encephalitis and was flown to the U.K. with their two young sons, Graeme and William. Elsie spent several months in the Middlesex Hospital before returning with the boys to India to join Mac, who had now been promoted to Deputy Information Officer, New Delhi, where they lived very happily before moving to Karachi, Pakistan, in 1956, where Mac was Information Director. In 1959 Mac was posted to Ottawa, Canada, as Director, British Information Service and in 1963 was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), the investiture being held at Rideau Hall, official home of the then Governor General of Canada, Georges Vanier. Two years later Mac was posted back to New Delhi as head of the British Information Service and in 1968 was transferred to London as Assistant Under-Secretary of State, Commonwealth Office. Another move in 1969 brought Mac to Toronto as Consul-General. Here he and his family spent a very happy ten years. For many of them Mac was Dean of the Consular Corps, and in 1971, at Buckingham Palace, Mac was awarded the Cross of St. Michael and St. George. Upon retirement from the British Diplomatic Service in 1978, Mac joined the Royal Ontario Museum as Development officer and then as Assistant Director, retiring again in 1983 to care for Elsie, who was suffering from post-polio syndrome. He was active in the cultural life of Toronto, serving on the Board of Directors of the National Ballet of Canada for 19 years, including two years as President of the Board, and on the Boards of the Canadian Aldeburgh Foundation and the CanadianScottish Philharmonic Foundation. Mac possessed a rich, resonant speaking voice and for many years was a volunteer reader at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, where he was the recipient of the Torgi Award for best recorded book of the year in 1991. A wonderful raconteur, he loved a party and could enthral listeners with stories drawn from his wide experience of the world. The family would like to thank the staff of Belmont House, particularly those on 5 West, for their excellent care of Mac. Cremation has already taken place. A celebration of his life will be held at Belmont House, 55 Belmont Street, Toronto at 11am, August 20 2009. Please, no flowers, but a gift to the National Ballet of Canada would cheer Mac's spirit.

Back to top