Who's Who - Andrew McKeever

Andrew McKeever Lieutenant Colonel Andrew McKeever was one of Canada's highest-scoring air aces during the First World War, amassing some 31 victories while flying with the British Royal Flying Corps.

Born on 21 August 1895 in Listowel, Ontario, McKeever enlisted with the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada once war was declared in the summer of 1914.  He subsequent served as a crack marksman on the Western Front.

Towards the close of 1916 McKeever sought and received a transfer to the British Royal Flying Corps.  Following the mandatory period of training he was attached to 11 Squadron in May 1917, remaining with them until the armistice.  His task was to fly beyond enemy lines while his accompanying observer took photographs.

Remarkably, all of McKeever's victories were achieved while at the helm of just one type of aircraft, the Bristol Fighter (or "Brisfit" as the notoriously slow aircraft was often termed).  Unsurprisingly therefore, McKeever amassed the highest total of 'kill's of any pilot flying two-seater aircraft during the war.

In one famed bout, on 30 November 1917, McKeever engaged two German two-seater aircraft - these protected by no fewer than seven enemy Albatrosses - and (together with his observer Powell) succeeded in downing five.  However with his observer's gun suddenly failing and in order to escape seemingly inevitable capture McKeever rolled his 'plane over feigning disaster and plummeted to the ground.  A mere eight metres above the ground and hidden from the enemy aircraft above by fog he levelled the aircraft and flew back behind Allied lines to safety.

Returning home to Canada following the war's end McKeever worked with Billy Bishop and Raymond Collishaw to establish a Canadian Air Force.  Having accepted (but not yet started) a position as manager of an airfield McKeever's promising life came to an abrupt end.  Following an automobile accident in the town of his birth in September 1919 which resulted in a broken leg, he died on Christmas Day from complications aged 24.

During his brief wartime career McKeever had been awarded the Military Cross (with Bar), the Distinguished Service Order and the Croix de Guerre.

A "creeping barrage" is an artillery bombardment in which a 'curtain' of artillery fire moves toward the enemy ahead of the advancing troops and at the same speed as the troops.

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