When the RCAF wouldn’t accept him as a pilot in the summer of 1939, Keith ‘Skeets’ Ogilvie, the author’s father, walked across the street in Ottawa and joined the RAF. A week later he was on a boat to England and a future he could not have imagined. Some unusual luck won him a transfer as a Spitfire pilot to No. 609 (White Rose) Squadron, just as the Battle of Britain was being joined. Over the next months he firmly established his credentials with six confirmed kills and two probables along with several enemy aircraft damaged. Shot down over France the following July, he was fortunate to be treated for grievous injuries by top German surgeons. Skeets’ home for the balance of the war was Stalag Luft III POW camp. He was the second last man out of the ‘Great Escape’ tunnel, but was recaptured three days later. For reasons he never understood, Skeets was one of 23 escapees who were spared from being murdered by the Gestapo. 50 of his fellows were not so lucky.
Keith Ogilvie graduated from RMC in 1969 and served for nine years as an aerospace engineer and then worked on Canada’s space program in the 1970s and 80s, before moving into international development, supporting governance and economic development projects. He is a former pilot (who owned an ex RCAF trainer–a Chipmunk), a sailor, an explorer, and the author of Skeets Ogilvie (entitled “You never Know Your Luck” in the UK) and the editor of “Failed to Return.”
Mentioned at 23:47 Digging the Great Escape (Experimental Archeology)
Keith C. Ogilvie presented this talk at the RUSI-VI luncheon on Wednesday, May 10, 2023.