Vernon "Shorty" Keough at Church Fenton in October 1940. At four feet ten inches, the shortest man in the RAF. All three of the men in the pic were US citizens who were RAF pilots during the crucial Battle of Britain dates, 10 July 1940 - 31st October 1940, to qualify as members of "The Few."
The other two are Eugene Tobin (R) and Alexander Mamedoff (L).
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Within a year of this photo being taken, all three had been killed in action.
Of 11 men identified as US citizens who qualified as BoB fighter pilots, only two survived the war.
They were else they'd face arrest in the USA if they returned. I read somewhere a lot refused to transfer to the USAAF when they did join in later in the war.Hardly likely to damage their PERSEC now but weren't they ummmmm, errrrhhh, Canadians.
(Sort of. Know what I mean squire.)
There was concern early in the war that US citizens might fall foul of the US Neutrality Acts, but it soon became apparent that the US Government were quite willing to turn a blind eye. The RAF established the so-called Eagle Squadrons, and you'll see that Keough is displaying his ES badge on his sleeve in that photo I posted upthread which I think is dated 31st October 1940. The three buddies in that pic, Tobin, Mamedoff and Keough had all originally joined the French Armee de l'Air in 1939, somewhat in the style of the Escadrille Lafayette of WW1.They were else they'd face arrest in the USA if they returned. I read somewhere a lot refused to transfer to the USAAF when they did join in later in the war.
Some would not qualify as USAAF pilots for various reasonsThey were else they'd face arrest in the USA if they returned. I read somewhere a lot refused to transfer to the USAAF when they did join in later in the war.
Some would not qualify as USAAF pilots for various reasons
Medical (Keogh as example)
Many of the AVG "Flying Tigers" were furious to not be let back to their former services and shanghaied into the USAAF 14th AF as 2nd Lt's and Flight Officers
There was an interesting anecdote in Boyington's autobiography which I read at around the same time as I had arrived out in Asia for the first time and was throwing my money around and making myself popular (or so I thought) with everyone.Boyington was an interesting character, if somewhat prone to the demon drink.
He crops up in a couple of books I have, His own (fairly obviously), Baa, Baa, Black Sheep and one by his fellow pilot Frank Walton, Once They were Eagles.
He got the "Pappy" nickname as he was about ten years older than his other pilots.
He seems to be the only Japanese POW whose health actually improved in imprisonment (because he couldn't get any booze). he seemed to quite like being there and told Walton's wife that "the happiest time of my life was when I was in that Japanese prison camp. I was told what to do. Everything was arranged. I had no decisions to make.” That was probably bravado.
They don't make them like that anymore. It was the fags, not the booze, that got him in the end though.
For Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, war hero, F. Scott Fitzgerald said it best: “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy.”