Rotarian and Past President John Cairns introduced William March, a graduate of the Royal Military College and the University of Victoria.  William (Bill) spent almost 42 years in the Canadian Forces and RCAF as both a line-navigator on maritime patrol aircraft and a staff officer in Canada, Europe and Afghanistan.  He was most fortunate during his time in uniform to spend a total of 10 years as the Air Force Historian.  Bill has written or edited numerous articles and publications on aerospace power history.  He volunteers with the National Air Force Museum of Canada in different capacities, most recently as a member of the Museum Foundation.  Bill is on the editorial board for the Canadian Aviation Historical Society Journal and is a contributing editor for Airforce magazine.
William thanked everyone for their warm welcome and advised he would be speaking about the sacrifices of aviation in WWI.  Open cockpits.  No heat.  No oxygen.  The majority of aviators with the Commonwealth and Canada did not return from the war or if they did, they needed care.  There was, even against these odds, no shortage of people applying with 25,000 Canadian who served in the Air Force from 1914 to 1918.  We have heard and recognize the names of heroes such as Billy Bishop who served in both wars and William Barker.  But today, William wanted to talk about 2nd Lt. Alan McLeod (pictured here), born April 1899 in the village of Stonewall, Selkirk, Manitoba.  Alan Arnett McLeod VC was a Canadian soldier, aviator and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. McLeod served as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps and later the Royal Air Force during the First World War.
 
After previously being turned away due to his age, Alan McLeod joined the Royal Flying Corps Canada (R.F.C.C.) 20 April 1917—his 18th birthday. He was sent to the University of Toronto for military training, then to Long Branch and Camp Borden for flight training. He was commissioned a Temporary 2nd Lieutenant (on probation), 19 August 1917.
On 20 August 1917, 2nd Lieutenant McLeod boarded the Canadian Pacific passenger liner S.S. Metagama and sailed to Bantry Bay, Ireland. For the next four months McLeod continued to train as a pilot in the Royal Air Force. He then joined No. 2 Squadron on the Western Front.
 
On 27 March 1918, McLeod, with his observer Lieutenant 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. During the fight, both McLeod and Hammond were wounded by machine gun bullets, the petrol tank was punctured and the aircraft set on fire. McLeod instantly pushed her over into a very steep side slip, but the flames were scorching him, and so he jumped out of his cockpit on to the left wing and crouched low, with the joystick pulled hard over in his right hand. Then he smashed a hole through the fabric in the fuselage so that he could reach the rudder-wire with his left hand, and so he guided her towards the lines.  In this way he kept the flames away from his wounded observer and prevented the aircraft from burning up. 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 and loss of blood. 
 
Lt. 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.
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 epidemic shortly thereafter. He was only 5 months away from celebrating his 20th birthday.  Lt. A. McLeod encapsulates the impact of lessor known heroes and their astounding contribution to the war efforts.
 
 
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