Unbelievable Canadian War Stories (Amazing Stories)
- Softcover120 pages
Well Beyond the Call of Duty
Often little-known but extraordinary, the quiet heroes of one of the most destructive wars in his-tory left indelible impressions among those whose lives were touched by their actions. Up against firing squads, torpedoes, rogue waves, P.O.W. camps, and all the living hells of warfare, they persevered, they saved lives, and they valiantly served their country. Distinguished and decorated, these men used unconventional methods and quick-thinking tactics to excel on the front lines.
Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Spitfire pilot Keith 'Skeets' Ogilvie waited shivering in the cold and dark of a March night in 1944 to make his bid for freedom from Stalag Luft 111 in Sagan, 6 kilometres southeast of Berlin.
Snow still crusted the ground, and the temperature was below freezing. The pilot's nerves were on edge as he watched the prisoners ahead of him shuffle through the tunnel, code-named "Harry", one of three escape tunnels designed by Canadian Flight Lieutenant Wally Floody. The prisoners passed in front of Skeets... 71, 72, 73... He remembered that Floody had been unexpectedly transferred to another camp the previous night, and his thoughts drifted for a moment...74, 75...
Number 75! It was his turn! He crouched down and inched his way slowly through the dark, dank tunnel, trying desperately to control his breathing. Empty jam tins had been telescoped together and periodically positioned along the tunnel to make ventilation pipes. As he emerged from the tunnel, a shout stopped him cold. The German guards had seen the steam rising from the escape hole outside the wire. Gunfire shattered the night. In a sudden moment, Skeets's hopes and dreams were dashed.
The flying ace was recaptured almost immediately, as were 71 of the 75 escapees. Soon after, 50 of the would-be escapees were executed by firing squad in nearby woods. Skeets Ogilvie's name was not on that list of 50, and he went through life wondering why he had been spared.
Keith 'Skeets" Ogilvie was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). After the war, he stayed in the RCAF and served as a squadron leader in Trenton, Centralia, Rockclive, and Downsview. He retired in April 1996 and passed away May 6, 1998.
About the Author
Patrick (Pat) MacAdam is a native Cape Bretoner who has made Ottawa his home since 1959. He holds bachelor's degrees in arts and education from St. Francis Xavier University. He paid his way through university by writing for the Sydney Post-Record, Halifax Chronicle-Herald and Fredericton Daily Gleaner. He spent three summers in the Canadian Officers Training Corps in Camp Borden, Ontario, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was commissioned a lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps. His entire professional life has been in public relations and politics. He was senior writer in the Public Relations Department, Expo '67, the Montreal World's Fair from 1963 to 1967. He was director of public relations and promotion for CJOH-TV (Bushnell TV) and produced 'Question Period' for CTV Network. He was a researcher, speechwriter, and aide to Prime Minister John Diefenbaker from 1959 to 1963. In 1983, he joined his university friend, Brian Mulroney, as his first employee and most senior aide. He resigned from the Prime Minister's Office in 1987 to become Minister-Counsellor, Press and Media (Press Officer) at the Canadian High Commission, Trafalgar Square, London. His freelance writing has appeared in Hudson Bay history magazine The Beaver*, Weekend Magazine, The Canadian Magazine, Maclean's magazine, Ottawa Citizen, Globe and Mail, National Post, Sun Media newspapers in Ottawa and Toronto, the Cape Bretoner Magazine, daily newspapers in Saint John, Sydney, Halifax, Vancouver, and St. John's. His writing for the Ottawa Citizen earned him two National Newspaper Award nominations for excellence in feature writing.
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