THE STORY OF McLEOD, YOUNGEST CANADIAN V. C.
Canada’s Fighting Airmen XVII
A thrilling conclusion to the epic of Canada’s war-time success in the air
Major George A. Drew
NO GREATER proof exists of the high order of courage required to win the coveted Victoria Cross than the fact that of the thousands of Canadians who served with such outstanding distinction in the air during the Great War, only three received that greatest of all decorations for bravery, the simple bronze cross with the words inscribed on the back “For Valor.”
The third Canadian aviator to share that honor with Lieutenant-Colonel Bishop and Lieutenant-Colonel Barker was Lieutenant Alan Arnett McLeod, of Stonewall, Manitoba. No story of Canadian aviation would be complete without a description not only of the deed for which Lieutenant McLeod received the Victoria Cross, but of his life as well, for his story is not so much that of an individual as the story of true Canadian youth in the face of a great crisis.
Lieutenant McLeod was the youngest Canadian to win the Victoria Cross. He was also one of the few airmen to win the Victoria Cross in a heavy bombing machine, most of the awards of the Victoria Cross going to pilots of scout squadrons who flew the small fighters. He was however the last to see anything unusual in what he had done, and shunned the publicity which followed the official story of his bravery, showing very clearly that he did not wish to be considered a hero, but only as one who had performed the duty to which he had been assigned.
Of Pioneer Stock
2YLAN McLEOD was born on April 20, 1899, at Stonewall, a small town about twenty miles from Winnipeg. As Barker was born in the same province, Manitoba claimed two of the three Canadians who won the Victoria Cross in the air. McLeod was a real Canadian in every sense of the word, with English, Irish and Welsh blood in his veins from his mother’s side of the family, while Dr. Alex McLeod came of Scotch pioneer stock on both sides of his family. Dr. McLeod’s father came out from Scotland in the early days of the West in the employ of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and his mother was one of the famous Selkirk settlers who, under the guidance of Lord Selkirk, established themselves along the bank of the Red River near Fort Garry before any indication existed of Winnipeg as it now stands. From such staunch British stock came those sterling qualities which showed themselves so early in Alan McLeod’s life.
He lived the life of the ordinary schoolboy with the average round of small successes and petty difficulties, but strangely enough at the early age of nine received his first taste of the publicity which he always so sincerely shunned, when the Stonewall Argus in January, 1909 contained the following item: “Master Alan McLeod was observed to perform a feat the other day which called for some endurance and some nerve on the part of so young a lad. It also gave evidence of his kindly disposition. A dog passed along the street and was seen to have a trap on its foot. A gentleman tried to catch it, but did not succeed. Alan started after it and after following it for nearly half a mile and coming up with it several times, succeeded in stopping it and removing the trap. He let the dog go and returned the trap to the constable. Asked how the dog behaved he explained that it showed its teeth at first, but he got it to understand after a little. Not the least praiseworthy feature was his seeming unconsciousness that he had done anything but what any boy would do.”
This short description of the performance of a lad of nine was prophetic in its emphasis of the two qualities which were most conspicuous when a few years later he attained such prominence in the war.
He showed an early interest in military training, and on June 24, 1913, left Stonewall with a detachment of twenty-seven young men from that town to join the 34th Fort Garry Horse for their two weeks of annual training at Fort Sewell. He was at the time just fourteen years and two months old, but he was a big boy for his age and like many others -before and since the war, strained a point when he gave his age as eighteen without any particular qualms of conscience or feeling that he had done anything wrong. With his blue jacket, khaki breeches, black legging spurs and cartridge bandolier thrown over his shoulder, and mounted on his own favorite horse which he had taken with him from Stonewall, he doubtless felt very much more important as a soldier that summer than in the later experience of serious fighting.
IMMEDIATELY after the outbreak of the war, although he was then only fifteen years of age, he began his efforts to enlist. At seventeen he applied for admission to the cadet wing of the Royal Flying Corps in Toronto, but unfortunately for him they insisted upon the production of his birth certificate and he received word that his application could not be considered until he was eighteen years of age. There was nothing for him to do but wait, and he was overjoyed when he received instructions a few days before his birthday that he was to report on April 23, 1917, for medical examination. He was attending High School at Stonewall at the time and in a few months would have written his matriculation examination, but April 20, his eighteenth birthday, was his last day at school. Mr. Burland, his principal, made this last day something of a holiday and a crowd of cheerful youngsters gave a party in the school, at which they presented him with a farewell gift, and on the following day he left for Toronto to begin his training at Long Branch.
He learned quickly, and after less than six weeks instruction was ready for his first flight on June 4. He was up for ten minutes on the first day in a dual-control machine, learning something of the sensation of flying, but not actually taking any part in the operation. He was up again on June 5, 6 and 7, each day for a longer period, and by June 7 was handling the machine himself after the instructional officer had flown it to a safe height for him to take over the controls. Only five days after his first flight, on June 9, he made a solo flight, after having had a total in the air of only two hours and fifty-five minutes. On June 16 he went to Camp Borden, and by July 31 had qualified as a pilot.
Flying Over London
"pARLY in August he was given leave before proceeding overseas and spent August 13 and 14 at his home in Stonewall. Then on August 15 a cheery, laughing boy, little changed except for the uniform he wore, left for Montreal whence he sailed to England on the Metagama on August 20. He had his first taste of the serious side of war when the boat was chased by submarines and forced to put into harbor for several days in Ireland. He reached London on September 1 and was given a still more vivid impression of the fact that he was approaching the war zone, when for the first four nights after his arrival London was heavily bombed by German aircraft. On the night of September 4, he was at the Gaiety Theatre on the Strand with a number of his friends when a bomb landed in the street nearby, and he with many others in the theatre were called upon to render assistance in taking the injured people to safety.
His first training in England was at an aerodrome near Winchester. He was only there a short time and then was sent to the 82nd Squadron at Waddington in Lincolnshire. Early in November they got the exciting news that the squadron was soon to proceed to the front, when once more he found his age in the way of his reaching France. The commanding officer, on looking up McLeod’s record, found that he was only eighteen, and informed him that he would be forced to wait until he was nineteen before going on active service. This was a great blow to McLeod, who felt very keenly being separated from the friends with whom he had done all his training.
He was therefore transferred to the 51st Squadron, which was one of the home defense units employed in attacking German machines on their bombing raids. It is just a little difficult to understand why this work was considered less exacting than active service in France, as a great part of the flying of the home defense squadrons was done at night, when landings were extremely difficult and there was always the danger of collision in the air either with one of their own machines or the enemy. He had plenty of excitement during the next two weeks, going up several times to repel raids and once being shot down over London. His machine landed safely, however, and he considered the adventure more as a joke than dangerous business.
But his heart was set on getting to France, and late in November he succeeded in getting the ear of a general in command of the group to which his squadron was attached, who was so impressed with the enthusiasm and spirit of this young boy that he put down his age as nineteen and sent him immediately to the front. He proceeded to the Pilots’ Pool at St. Orner, and a few days later was attached to No. 2 Squadron at Hesdigneul, reporting there on November 29. No. 2 was a corps squadron flying the heavy Armstrong Whitworth machines, and their duties were day and night bombing, photography, and artillery co-operation.
All the new pilots, as they reported to the squadron, went through a further period of training for a few days under experienced observers before actually crossing over into enemy territory, and upon his arrival McLeod was posted to B flight, and put under the care of Lieutenant Higgins, at that time senior observing officer in the squadron..
It was not long before he had established himself as a favorite, partly because of his exuberant youth, partly because he was much younger than any of the other officers, but largely because of his consistently good flying and unusually successful landings with the large machines on the small and crowded landing-field.
His first flight in France was on December 2, 1917, and after only a few days he went across the line to observe for artillery fire, with Higgins as his observer.
About the middle of December Higgins was transferred to another squadron, much to McLeod’s regret, as he had grown extremely fond of his older friend, and Lieutenant Comber was allotted to McLeod’s machine as observer.
By this time McLeod was considered a first-class pilot, having passed all his tests in machine gunnery, photography, and counter-battery work. Their most important duty during the day was to observe for artillery against enemy batteries or other targets. This entailed long flights over the enemy lines during which they were subjected all the time to heavy anti-aircraft fire and frequent attacks from the fast enemy scouts. Two entries from his logbook on December 19 and 22 indicate the nature of his work, and also that it was not long before he was getting into very stiff fights in the ordinary course of his duty.
Remarks Unsuccessful shoot on BY-75 owing to mist. Scrap with 8 Huns, 1 spun Successful shoot on BY-75
The brief entry “Successful shoot on BY-75” tells a long story to those who can visualize what took place. As he flew steadily back and forth over the enemy position, round after round from the British guns would be checked by wireless, and finally, when the shots were falling directly on the target, this would be reported to the battery, which would then open up with a heavy burst of fire until the enemy position was completely destroyed.
About this time he was sent up with a number of the junior observers, who used to regale the mess with stories of what happened on these trips. In spite of the fact that the Armstrong Whitworth was a very cumbersome machine, all McLeod needed to do was to see a German airplane in the air, and whether it was a fighting scout or not, made little or no difference to him. On one of these flights with a very junior observer he attacked a German plane which proved too fast for him and presently got above and behind their machine, when to McLeod’s annoyance he found that his observer was apparently making no attempt to return the enemy fire. After much shouting and signalling to each other he learned that the observer’s gun was jammed. He succeeded in throwing the enemy off by very skilful manoeuvring, and when they got back to their own aerodrome he and his observer examined the gun to find that it was not jammed, but only that the safety catch had not been released. Many a pilot whose life had been in danger by such carelessness on the part of the observer would have been only too ready to display his annoyance, but to McLeod this was a great joke both on himself and the observer.
His First Balloon
TOURING Christmas week it snowed heavily, and after a bad experience on December 26, when he and another pilot were forced to remain aloft for some time in a snowstorm because they could not see the landing-field, very little flying was done until the weather had cleared. On January 3, however, he took advantage of the first clear day for some time and started an offensive of his own, when he dived low over the main street of La Bassée, where he had observed a large number of enemy troops congregated, and flew back and forth raking the street with machine-gun fire and inflicting heavy casualties. At this time his observer was Lieutenant Reginald Key, of Northampton, a young Englishman a few years older than McLeod, who is now living in Toronto. He and McLeod formed a very deep attachment which grew out of their close association, sharing the same living quarters and going through several trying experiences together. They found many tastes in common and scoured most of France in their efforts to get suitable furniture for their small hut, which by the time that Key was transferred to another squadron was in their opinion quite the most comfortable establishment at the front.
McLeod was mentioned in dispatches for a particularly daring piece of work on January 14. He and Key crossed the line alone and flew in the direction of Bauvin, where they had seen a German observation balloon about ten or twelve miles from the front line trenches. This was dangerous work for the small fast scouts, but it was almost suicidal for the slow heavy corps machines like the Armstrong Whitworth, and only a pilot of the greatest courage would have attempted to bring the cumbersome machine he was flying low enough to attack a balloon.
As they approached their target, the air was filled with bursting high explosive shells, but by dodging quickly this way and that, he finally got above the balloon and dived at it as though he were flying a scout machine.
Presently he came to the level of the balloon itself and raked it with a burst of fire from the front gun. The great bag instantly burst into flames and fell to the ground. As they turned back they were attacked by three Albatross scouts, but by very skilful flying McLeod placed his observer in position and a deadly burst from Key’s gun sent one of the Albatrosses crashing to the ground.
Two days later McLeod, with Key as his observer again, was detailed to carry out an artillery shoot near La Bassée, but they were very much annoyed by a particularly active anti-aircraft battery in the town. In spite of terrific shelling from the anti-aircraft battery and heavy fire also from machine guns in the buildings nearby, McLeod dived with his large machine to within fifty feet of the ground and raked the gunners with machine-gun fire, many of them being seen to fall. He repeated this until the guns were out of action, and then flying back over them dropped bombs which finished the guns themselves. Then he attacked a column of troops nearby with machine-gun fire before climbing again and resuming the artillery shoot, which he completed safely before returning to his own aerodrome.
The guns which McLeod had destroyed had caused a great deal of annoyance, and for his conspicuous work the squadron commander gave McLeod two weeks leave to London, where he arrived on January 27. The second night of his leave he was almost convinced that he was safer back in France when a bomb from a German machine destroyed a large building near the Savoy Hotel where he was staying, killing forty-nine people and injuring 147. However he thoroughly enjoyed his leave, and after two weeks of the usual round of theatres and visits to the country he returned to France.
SHORTLY after this, he and Key were very disappointed when the latter was sent to reinforce another squadron which had suffered very severe casualties. Writing of his experiences with McLeod, Key once said in a letter: “Alan would take on anything, and I was willing to go anywhere with him. I had absolute confidence in him. He was the finest pilot I have ever flown with, devoid of fear, and always merry and bright. We were in many scraps together and often after getting out of a very tight corner by sheer piloting, with six or seven Huns on our tail, he would turn round to me and laugh out loud.”
At this time one of the most important duties of No. 2 Squadron was counter-battery photography. Every day at noon, three machines of the squadron crossed the line and took photographs back of the German lines to a depth of about ten miles. These photographs were then examined by experts who would detect the changes that had occurred on the ground day by day. These three machines were led by Captain Allport, the other two being flown by Lieutenant McGlashan and Lieutenant McLeod. The observer in Captain Allport’s machine was Lieutenant A. W. Hammond, who afterward was McLeod’s observer until their last day in France together. The work became increasingly dangerous, because in addition to the antiaircraft fire they were subjected to frequent attacks by a new circus modelled on the plan of Richthofen’s famous organization. Because of their activity it was decided that one machine could do the work better alone, since it would not attract so much attention, and about the middle of February, just after Key left the squadron, Hammond became McLeod’s observer and they did this work as part of their daily routine.
Hammond and McLeod made a very strong combination, Hammond already having been decorated with the Military Cross for bravery, and with McLeod’s flying and the shooting skill of Hammond, their Armstrong Whitworth was a dangerous opponent for even the fastest German machine to meet. They were given practically a freelance commission to roam up and down the front when not flying on organized patrol, and whenever flying conditions were poor and visibility low they would dive through the clouds at anti-aircraft guns or other promising ground targets.
On March 23 news came of the opening of the great German offensive, and No. 2 Squadron was ordered to fly south and attack with bombs and bullets all German concentrations in the neighborhood of Bapaume. When they reached the battle area pandemonium reigned. The British machines barely cleared the heads of the troops on the ground, and the German airplanes in turn dived at them to drive them away from their own troops. From then on McLeod and Hammond were in the air day and night, attacking troops during the day and bombing all night.
They had already been doing a great deal of night bombing, but now this became intensified and three times every night the machines of the squadron crossed the line loaded with bombs and attacked enemy strong points and concentration centres. On the night of March 26 the routine orders posted in the squadron mess notified McLeod and Hammond that with six other machines they were to take off the following morning at nine o’clock on a special raid, equipped with an extra load of bombs and extra drums of machine-gün ammunition. Next morning at 8.45, McLeod and Hammond were still asleep, exhausted after three long bombing raids during the night, when they were awakened with the reminder that their machine was ready and waiting to start.
Flying Under Difficulties
TN A FEW minutes they were in their flying togs and A across the line v/ith six other machines on their way to Bray-sur-Somme, near Albert, where the German army was massing, for another attack on the front that was already staggering from their earlier blows.
The weather could not have been worse. The clouds were only between a thousand and fifteen hundred feet up, and to add to their difficulties they soon flew into a thick fog through which it was only possible to fly by compass. Before long the machines completely lost sight of each other, and after about twenty-five minute? of flying McLeod signalled to his observer that he was going down in an effort to locate their position. As soon as they got low enough to see the ground they were greeted with a heavy bombardment from antiaircraft guns. Up they went into the clouds again, and in a few minutes repeated the experiment with similar results, but still without learning where they were. McLeod then turned west in an effort to reach one of their own aerodromes. After several attempts they finally located one and landed at what turned out to be No. 43 Squadron.
Owing to the unusually heavy load of bombs and machine-gun ammunition they damaged the tail skid on landing, but McLeod immediately communicated with his own squadron by telephone, and before long a tender arrived with a new skid which was put on. In the meantime he and Hammond had been made welcome by their hosts and had lunch with them. The commanding officer of No. 43 Squadron learned that Richthofen’s circus had inflicted many casualties on the British in the neighborhood of Albert, which was close to Bray, and in spite of the fact that the weather was extremely dangerous for flying sent up a flight of his fast scout machines to test the air and see if they could find any evidence of enemy machines. They returned very soon and reported that it was impossible to see anything, and that flying conditions were quite hopeless. In spite of this, McLeod and Hammond decided to proceed alone on the work they had originally started to do, and shortly after one o’clock they again took the air. This time they succeeded in reaching Albert without much difficulty and proceeded south over the battle area, flying below the clouds which were then at about 3,000 feet. Bray was about fifteen miles behind the German lines, opposite Albert, and they crossed at this point and proceeded to find some target in the area which they had been ordered to attack. Presently they saw a German battery in action and were just getting into position to bomb them, when suddenly a German triplane appeared only about 200 yards away and slightly below them.
Battling Desperate Odds
' I 'HE enemy machine was one of the fast new Fokkers for which the heavily-loaded Armstrong Whitworth was hardly a match, but without hesitation they attacked. By skilful manoeuvring McLeod put Hammond into position, and after three short bursts of fire the German machine went over on its back, then into a spin, and crashed to the ground immediately below.
McLeod and Hammond were shouting and waving congratulations to each other over their unexpected success, when suddenly the clouds broke and they saw blue sky and sunshine above them. At the same moment another Fokker triplane dived at them, followed a short distance behind by six others. It is quite clear from Richthofen’s reports for the day that these machines were from his famous circus, and were therefore flown by some of the finest German pilots. The German machines swarmed around them, firing from all directions, but Hammond and McLeod made good use of their guns, firing just enough to keep the enemy at bay and at the same time conserving their ammunition. Presently, by very skilful handling of the Armstrong Whitworth, McLeod again gave Hammond the chance for a good burst of fire, this time at a machine which had dived so close that he was only a few feet away when Hammond opened fire. The force of the bullets hitting the German machine was so great that the body of the triplane broke off at the pilot’s seat^ and the wreckage immediately burst into flames.
At the same time another triplane dived from behind and zoomed up underneath the British machine, raking it with fire, hitting both McLeod and Hammond and igniting the gasoline tank. At last the fight had come to its almost inevitable end. They were still about 2,000 feet up, and McLeod put the machine into an easy dive in an effort to reach the ground. Before long, the floor of the machine fell away, carrying with it the revolving stool on which the observer sat. Hammond, in spite of his wounds, had climbed up and was sitting on the ledge surrounding the top of the observer’s cockpit. It now looked as though death was certain, but McLeod climbed out on the left lower wing and controlled the machine from there, putting it into a steep sideslip so that the flames blew clear of himself and his observer. One of the Germans, evidently thinking that the British machine was hopelessly out of action, dived so close that Hammond could see the features of the pilot. In spite of the fact that one of his arms was completely helpless and that he had been hit in several places, Hammond again manned his gun and shot the German machine down in flames. The remaining Fokker again opened fire, and finally jammed Hammond’s gun. He was then able to follow them safely almost to the ground, hitting them time and time again. McLeod, still the cheery boy with a smile on his face in spite of almost certain death, kept the Armstrong Whitworth in a steep sideslip and finally succeeded in flattening it out just before it hit the ground, where it crashed into a shell hole. Before it did so, Hammond had climbed on to the upper wing and both were thrown clear of the wreckage.
As it crashed, the machine began to blaze fiercely, and as there were eight heavy bombs and more than a thousand rounds of ammunition still in it, the two airmen, who had already escaped death most miraculously, were once more threatened. Hammond, who had been wounded six times, was quite helpless, and McLeod, although he had himself received five wounds, began to drag him to safety. The machine-gun bullets from the plane were going off all around, and very soon the bombs also exploded and blew parts of the machine about them, but without causing any serious injury to either. When they landed, neither had known where they were, until heavy machine-gun fire informed them that they were between the two front lines. McLeod dragged Hammond toward the British trenches and was again wounded; but before collapsing from loss of blood had by sheer dogged courage dragged his companion to within a few yards of the trenches, where some men from the South African Scottish rushed out and carried them into the trench.
Then came the worst experience of all. They were in the very midst of the battle area, without any communication trenches through which they could be carried back to safety. Their rescuers could only wait for darkness, and all afternoon they lay in frightful pain, expecting at any time to be attacked.
About eight o’clock that night they reached the reserve trenches where their wounds were dressed and their sufferings somewhat alleviated by morphine. Then they were carried another three miles by stretcher bearers to a dressing station, and from there were taken by ambulance to Amiens. At the Casualty Clearing Station their wounds were again dressed, and McLeod was delighted to find that one of the doctors and some of the nurses were from Winnipeg General Hospital and knew his father. At four in the morning they were put on the train for Etaples which they reached at six o’clock in the afternoon. At Etaples, Hammond and McLeod were separated. At one o’clock the next morning, McLeod was put on a train and taken on to a hospital ship for Dover, which he reached at eight o’clock the next night. From there he was taken to the Prince of Wales’s Hospital in London
The V.C. Award
T T WAS inevitable that both McLeod and Hammond should receive recognition for their gallant fight, and in a very few days McLeod received word that he had been awarded the Victoria Cross. Hammond he learned had been awarded a bar to the Military Cross for his part in the fight. The following announcement appeared a little over a month later in the London Gazette.
London Gazette No. 30663,
1st May, 1918.
His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned officer of the Royal Air Force, for services displaying outstanding bravery:
2nd Lieutenant Alan Arnett McLeod, Royal Air Force.
While flying with his observer, Lieutenant A. W. Hammond, M. C., attacking hostile formations by bombs and machine-gun fire, he was assailed at a height of 5,000 feet by eight enemy triplanes which dived at him from all directions, firing from their front guns. By skilful manoeuvring he enabled his observer to fire bursts at each machine in turn, shooting three of them down out of control. By this time Lieutenant McLeod had received five wounds, and while continuing the engagement a bullet penetrated his petrol tank and set the machine on fire.
He then climbed out on to the left bottom plane, controlling his machine from the side of the fuselage, and by sideslipping steeply kept the flames to one side, thus enabling the observer to continue firing until the ground was reached.
The observer had been wounded six times when the machine crashed in “No Man’s Land,” and 2nd Lieutenant McLeod, notwithstanding his own wounds, dragged him away from the burning wreckage at great personal risk from heavy machine-gun fire from the enemy’s lines. This very gallant pilot was again wounded by a bomb whilst engaged in this act of rescue, but he persevered until he had placed Jjieutenant Hammond in comparative safety, before falling himself from exhaustion and loss of blood.
The official announcement of Hammond's award appeared about the same time.
On March 27, 1918, while flying with his pilot, Second Lieutenant A. A. McLeod, east of Albert, attacking hostile troops and transport with machinegun fire and bombs from 5,000 feet, he was attacked by eight enemy triplanes which dived from all directions firing their front guns. Lieutenant Hammond fired bursts at each machine in turn, shooting three of them down out of control.
During this engagement he was wounded six limes. He was continuing fire on the hostile machines, when a bullet penetrated the petrol tank, setting the machine on fire. The pilot, second Lieutenant McLeod, although wounded five times, with great skill and coolness managed to climb on to the left-hand bottom plane, and controlled the machine from the side of the fuselage, sideslipping to the ground. Lieutenant Hammond, despite his wounds and surrounded by flames, continued to fire upon the enemy machines while descending. The machine crashed in “No Man’s Land.” Second Lieutenant McLeod managed to extricate Lieutenant Hammond from the flames and heated bombs, and dragged him to a shell hole, from which they were both subsequently rescued by our infantry under fire from the enemy lines.
TESS than a year before, a cheery robust boy left the schoolroom at Stonewall. Before his nineteenth birthday he had received the supreme decoration for valor in the gift of the British Crown, and had the unique distinction of being the youngest Canadian and the youngest British flying officer to receive this great honor. For months he lay between life and death, but by the beginning of September appeared to be well on the road to recovery.
On September 4 he attended the investiture at Buckingham Palace accompanied by his father, who had been in London for some time and had been constantly by his bedside during the summer. His one regret was that due to a spell of sickness be had been unable to accept an invitation to himself and his father to have lunch with the King at the palace.
A few days later Alan McLeod and his father left for Canada and arrived on September 30 in Winnipeg, where his father was then living. Here he was given a great public reception which might easily have turned the head of a lad so young, but he met all the flattery and praise with the same modest reserve he had always displayed, and was entirely unaffected by it.
Almost immediately his health began to return, and in a short time he looked almost himself again. But late in October he contracted the virulent form of influenza which was then raging throughout Canada and the United States and with the weakened condition of his lungs he had a relapse and died at Winnipeg, November 6, 1918.
There could be no more fitting conclu sion to the story of Alan McLeod than the words of Dr. David Christie, of Westminster Church, Winnipeg, which appeared in the Manitoba Free Press on the evening of November 7, the day after his death.
“Alan McLeod was the finest flower of chivalry. The old days of knighthood are over, but for the very fairest blossoms of the spirit of knighthood the world has had to wait till the twentieth century. It is these dauntless boys who have saved civilization. The heroism of the Crusaders pales before the incredible and quiet courage of such boys who gave us a new interpretation of Calvary. I saw Alan within a few hours of his death. He faced the last enemy with the same joyous confidence with which he started on what he called the very happiest part of his life. For our children’s children names like Alan McLeod’s will be written in letters of splendor in the annals of Canada.”
Editor’s Note: This is the final article of Major Drew’s series in Canada’s Fighting Airmen.