Alan Arnett McLeod

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Alan Arnett McLeod
Alan Arnett McLeod VC.jpg
Born 20 April 1899
Stonewall, Manitoba, Canada
Died 6 November 1918
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Buried at Winnipeg (Old Kildonan) Presbyterian Cemetery
Service/branch Canadian Army
Royal Air Force
Years of service 1913 - 1914 (Army)
1917 - 1918 (Air Force)
Rank Lieutenant
Unit No. 51 Squadron RAF
No. 2 Squadron RAF
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Victoria Cross (UK) ribbon.png Victoria Cross

Alan Arnett McLeod VC (20 April 1899 – 6 November 1918) was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early life[edit]

Alan McLeod grew up in Stonewall, Manitoba, the son of a doctor. He enrolled in The 34th Fort Garry Horse in 1913 at age 14. When the war started in 1914 Alan was sent home, as under age. He then tried several times to enlist in the army in Winnipeg, and in the cadet wing of the Royal Flying Corps in Toronto. As he turned 18 he successfully enrolled in the RFC. He trained as a pilot at Long Branch near Toronto, and soloed after only 3 hours flight time. He graduated with 50 hours of flying experience. On 20 August 1917 he was shipped overseas to France.

He was originally posted to No. 82 Squadron flying scouts, but when his Commanding Officer found he was 18 he had McLeod posted to 51 Squadron on Home Defence duties flying the B.E. 12 at night. He was then posted to No. 2 Squadron, a Corps Squadron working near Hesdigneul in northern France, flying his first operation in December 1917. With Lt. Comber as his gunner, he claimed a Fokker Dr.I destroyed in January and on 14 January flamed an observation balloon near Beauvin. He was mentioned in dispatches for this exploit.

Victoria Cross[edit]

McLeod was an 18 year old Second Lieutenant in No. 2 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

On 27 March 1918 over Albert, France, Second Lieutenant McLeod, with his observer Lt. Arthur Hammond, in an Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 destroyed an enemy triplane and were immediately attacked by eight more, three of which they brought down, but the petrol tank of the bomber was hit. The machine burst into flames and both pilot and observer were badly wounded. McLeod, by side slipping steeply, tried to keep the flames away from his observer, and when the machine finally crashed in No Man's Land, the young pilot, not minding his own injuries, dragged his comrade from the burning wreckage and under heavy fire carried him to comparative safety, before collapsing from exhaustion.

Lt. Hans Kirschstein of Jasta 6, an experienced ace was credited with the victory. McLeod was wounded three times in the side and Hammond was wounded six times. Hammond lost a leg but was awarded a bar for his Military Cross.

McLeod was recommended for a Distinguished Service Order but received the Victoria Cross. He returned to Canada (Stonewall, Manitoba) to recuperate but died from the Spanish Influenza shortly thereafter.

There is a street in Stonewall, Manitoba named after McLeod. His former family home is the McLeod Tea House and Stonewall Collegiate has his likeness as a bust displayed in the high school library.

Tribute[edit]

Dr. David Christie, of Westminster Church, Winnipeg, wrote a moving tribute which appeared in the Manitoba Free Press on the evening of 7 November, 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 20th Century. It was these dauntless boys who have saved civilization. The heroism of the Crusades 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 splendour in the annals of Canada."

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