The Airmen's Stories - P/O V C Keough
Veron Charles 'Shorty' Keough was an American citizen from Brooklyn, New York and by 1939 had extensive flying and parachuting experience in the air shows that travelled across America.
He travelled to Europe intending to fight for Finland against Russia. Arriving after the Finnish war ended he then enlisted (with his close friends Eugene Tobin and Andrew Mamedoff) in the French Air Force but the chaotic conditions resulting from the German invasion resulted in them being shunted around France without ever being allocated a squadron or aircraft. Seeing that all was lost they managed to join the last ship from the port of St Jean-de-Luz and join the RAF in England.
Following Spitfire conversion training at 7 OTU Hawarden Keough was sent to No 609 Squadron on the 8th of August 1940 at Middle Wallop. He shared in the destruction of a Do17 on the 15th of September.
At 4' 10" Keough was the smallest pilot in the RAF and had to use two cushions in his Spitfire to see out of the cockpit.
On the 19th of September 1940 Keough (plus his two friends) were the first pilot arrivals at the newly-formed 71 'Eagle' Squadron at Kirton-in-Lindsey, Lincolnshire.
Shorty" was lost on 15th February 1941, aged 29, while on convoy protection off Flamborough Head - he may have been a victim of disorientation in cloud or oxygen failure during the chase of a Heinkel.
His body was not recovered and he is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial.
Keough (centre) with his fellow American volunteers Tobin (left) amd Mamedoff (right)
The American volunteers that flew with the RAF in the Battle are the subject of a book "The Few" by Alex Kershaw ISBN 978-0-718-14746-4