Friday, April 10, 2015


On the 14th of March 1917, Eddie McKay departed 24 Squadron for the last time. The squadron’s aerodromes had been his home and its pilots his family for nine months. Now he was the last — the very last — of that ‘fellowship of famous knights’ who had stormed the skies above the Somme when the great battle began in July. He still languished as 2nd lieutenant, undecorated, with a solid but undistinguished four victories to his name, and the Boelcke story probably starting to become a bit threadbare in the mess. But he was alive. ‘Lithe’ Eddie McKay, ‘cool headed’ Eddie McKay, ‘quick and scrappy’ Eddie McKay, never happier than on the rugby pitch, boring in with heart alone against bigger men and bringing them down. He was alive. Gray, Wigglesworth, Evans, Mansfield, Gooderich, Langan Byrne, Crawford, Begg, Glew, Wilson, Holtom, Knight, and Lewis were not. And Hawker was not. McKay left. England and the Home Establishment beckoned.
    The next day, his replacement, nineteen year old 2nd lieutenant James Kenneth Ross of Crouch End, a comfortable middle class suburb in the north of London, arrived fresh from No. 6 Reserve Training Squadron to take his place in the roster of “A” Flight. He was dead in twenty days.

from The Life and Times of Eddie McKay, Royal Flying Corps (in process)