The Airmen's Stories - P/O A K Ogilvie
Alfred Keith Ogilvie, who was to be known as ‘Skeets’ to his RAF colleagues, was born in Ottawa, Canada on 14th September 1915. After leaving school he worked as a bank cashier and attempted, at first unsuccessfully, to join the RCAF and the RAF. However on 11th August 1939 he was granted a short service commission in the RAF and travelled to England.
He did his initial flying course at No.1 E&RFTS, Hatfield and was posted to 9 FTS, Hullavington on 6th November. After completing the course, Ogilvie went to No.1 Flying Practice Unit, Meir, Staffordshire on 16th May 1940 for further training. He was then sent to CFS, Upavon on 6th June for an instructor's course but with the shortage of pilots due to losses in France this was countermanded and he was posted to 5 OTU Aston Down from 28th July to 15th August to convert to Spitfires.
Above: Ogilvie was photographed by Cecil Beaton (courtesy of Imperial War Museum)
On completion of the course Ogilvie was keen to join his fellow Canadians in 242 Squadron but this was at full complement and he instead joined 609 Squadron at Middle Wallop on 20th August. Ogilivie was soon in action and destroyed a Me109 and probably a Me110 on 7th September, shared a Do17 on the 15th, probably destroyed a Do17 on the 24th, probably destroyed another Do17 and damaged a Me110 on the 25th, damaged a He111 on the 26th and destroyed a Me110 on the 27th.
The Do17 shared on the 15th was the aircraft subsequently struck by the Hurricane of Sgt. R Holmes of 504 Squadron which then came down onto the forecourt of Victoria Station.
On 28th November 1940 Ogilvie took part in the engagement off the Needles which saw the German ace Major Helmut Wick shot down and killed by F/O J Dundas, though Dundas was also lost minutes later.
In 1941 Ogilvie damaged a Me109 on 19th March, destroyed a Me109 on 16th May, shared in probably destroying a Ju52 on the 22nd and destroyed Me109's on 17th June and 21st June.
On 4th July 1941 Ogilvie was in Spitfire MkVa X4664 as part of Circus 32, escorting Blenheims to chemical works and a power station at Chocques, near Bethune in France. His section was bounced by Me109's, his aircraft being hit almost immediately. Badly wounded, he baled out with difficulty and was unable to evade capture. He subsequently spent nine months in hospitals in Lille and Brussels. The award of the DFC was announced on 11th July.
Having recovered, Ogilvie was sent to Stalag Luft III at Sagan in Poland and by 1944 was a leading member of the escape committee headed by S/Ldr. Roger Bushell, his name was one of those drawn to take part in the ‘Great Escape’ on the night of 24th/25th March 1944. He was one of the last few to clear the tunnel before it was discovered. Ogilvie was at large for two days before being recaptured.
He was interrogated by the Gestapo at Gorlitz prison but eventually returned to the camp where he learned that fifty of his fellow escapers had been shot.
Ogilvie was liberated in April 1945 and soon thereafter transferred to the RCAF as a Flying Control Officer, later returning to flying duties with 412 Transport Squadron. Further appointments followed before he retired in September 1962. Ogilvie returned to his home town Ottawa and lived there till his death in May 1998.
Ogilvie's portrait was made by Cuthbert Orde (below).
His son Keith published 'The Spitfire Luck of Skeets Ogilvie' (ISBN 978-1772032116) in 2017.