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MACKENZIE, Andrew Robert Flying Officer, No.421 Squadron, J10976 Distinguished Flying Cross RCAF Personnel Awards 1939-1949
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MACKENZIE, F/O Andrew Robert (J10976) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.421 Squadron - Award effective 15 January 1944 as per London Gazette dated 25 January 1944 and AFRO 410/44 dated 25 February 1944. Born in Montreal, 10 August 1920; home there; enlisted there 6 June 1940. To No.1 ITS, Toronto, 24 June 1940; graduated, promoted LAC and posted to No.4 EFTS, 21 July 1940. To No.31 SFTS, 6 October 1940; graduated and promoted Sergeant, 30 December 1941; to Central Flying School, Trenton, 8 January 1941 taking Flying Instructors Course No.30, 3 February to 22 March 1941. To No.11 SFTS, 10 April 1941; to CFS, Trenton, 30 July 1941 ; promoted WO2, 30 December 1941; commissioned, 31 March 1942; to No.16 SFTS, 24 April 1942. To "Y" Depot, Halifax, 24 January 1943. To RAF overseas, 18 February 1943. Promoted Flying Officer, 1 October 1942. With No.421 Squadron, 10 August 1943 to 16 May 1943; No.403 Squadron, 16 May to 28 August 1944 (promoted Flight Lieutenant, 31 March 1944). Returned to Canada, flew Kittyhawks with No.133 Squadron (11 December 1944 to 28 January 1945) and No.135 Squadron (29 January to 7 September 1945). Transferred to Reserve, 1 October 1945; to Special Reserve (full employment), 3 April 1946; to Regular Force, October 1946. Promoted to Squadron Leader, 1 January 1951. Commanded No.441 Squadron (Sabres), 1 March 1951 to 6 November 1952. Flew in Korea, 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing. Shot down by friendly fire and held prisoner in China, 1952-1954. Subsequently an intelligence staff officer in NORAD. Last posting was Chief Administrative Office (CADO) at Rockcliffe. Retired 1967. Subsequently employed with the Canadian Pension Commission; a founder-member of the Korean Veterans Association Capital Unit, first president of the Canadian Fighter Pilots Association and a director of Sabre Pilots Association Air Division (SPAADS). Active in Canadian Legion and POW Association. Died in Kempville, Ontario, 21 September 2009 (Citizen obituary). Credited with the following victories: 26 August 1943, one Bf.109 destroyed (shared with three others); 22 October 1943, one FW.190 destroyed; 20 December 1943. two FW.190s and one Bf.109 destroyed; 28 June 1944, one FW.190 destroyed; 2 July 1944, one Bf.109 destroyed and one Bf.109 damaged; 16 July 1944, two Bf.109s destroyed. Photo PL-22152 shows him signing documents; PL-28492 (ex UK-9384 dated 1 April 1944) taken on occasion of his marriage to Corporal Joyce Svene (WD from Montreal); PL-75594 is a postwar portrait. See article by Norm Avery, “Potholes on the Road to a Bright Future” (about Korea and captivity), Airforce Magazine, Volume 34, No.4 (Winter 2011). // This officer has participated in numerous sorties and has destroyed four enemy aircraft, three of which he shot down during a sweep over northern France in December 1943. Flying Officer Mackenzie is a skilful and resolute fighter whose determination to destroy the enemy has always been evident. // Logbook Notes: His first flight at No.4 EFTS was 23 July 1940 with B. Stevenson (30 minutes, Finch 4482); second flight was same day with Stevenson, same aircraft, 45 minutes. First solo (25 minutes) was 5 August 1940 when he had logged ten hours 35 minutes dual. Instructors were B. Stevenson, J. Hogarth, A.T. Chesson, F/O Sharp and T. Marshall (instruments). First cross-country was 21 August 1940 to Montreal (with J. Hogarth). First solo cross country was 23 September 1940 (two hours 40 minutes to St. Hubert-Sorel-Cartierville. When he left No.4 EFTS he had flown 41.40 dual, 38.50 solo; of these totals he logged 10.15 on instruments. // On 23 October 1940 he first flew in a Harvard at No.31 SFTS (aircraft 2553, P/O Beaumont) for air experience, cockpit drill and effects of controls (30 minutes). Second flight was 29 October 1940, AH193, P/O W.R.L Beaumont (one hour) in taxying, straight and level flight, climbs, gliding, stalls, medium turns, takeoff into wind, powered approach and landing. His third trip was 31 October 1940 (Harvard 2552), again with Beaumont (one hour 25 minutes) - climbs, gliding, stalling, medium turns, takeoff into wind, powered approach and landing; also spinning, action in case of fire, and abandoning aircraft. On 1 November 1940 he again went up with Beaumont, then took a solo test with F/O Rendle (30 minutes) and finally went solo (30 minutes). In short, he soloed after 4.40 of dual instruction. On 2 November 1940 he performed first aerobatics with Beaumont (one hour 20 minutes.) // Friendly Fire // The Ottawa Citizen of 20 April 2002 carried the following story by Kelly Egan under the title “These Things Happen in War” (following the death of four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan when bombed by an American pilot). // The first time the Americans shot down Andy Mackenzie, it was June 1944, and he was piloting a Spitfire, a plane he loved, 1,000 metres over Utah Beach, only five days after D Day. // He and the offending officer on the ground, a U.S. colonel carrying a pair of pearl-handled pistols and a large misapprehension, managed to patch things up over a bottle of scotch. // The second time it happened he wasn’t as lucky. In December 1952, in the blue skies over North Korea, he had to eject from an F-86 Sabrejet at 14,000 metres, as high as a commercial jet flies. // Drifting in and out of consciousness it took him 33 minutes to drift to the ground, where an enemy posse awaited. His next stop was a prison camp. // Mr. Mackenzie, now retired in an 1830s stone house near Oxford Station, spent the next 18 months in solitary confinement, emerging with 120 pounds on his skeleton. All because an American pilot, misidentifying his aircraft, thought he was on the other side and opened fire. // “These things happen in war”, Mr. Mackenzie, 81, said one afternoon this week, sipping on a rum and coke in his sun room, without a trace of resentment. // “We bombed our own troops at Caen, just about wiped out the Winnipeg Rifles. It’s not just the Americans. Sometimes there are unavoidable errors.” // He is right, of course. Friendly fire disasters, like the one that killed four Canadians in Afghanistan this week, are as old as war itself. Allied bombs, indeed, Canadian bombs, killed not four but dozens of our own ground troops during the Second World War. // Mr. Mackenzie, a native of Montreal, joined the air force when he was 19. He had never been in an airplane before but was desperate to fly. He got his wings on December 15, 1940 and became a flying instructor. // By 1943 he was overseas and by the next year he was a flight commander of 403 Squadron. He was first shot down shortly after the Allied invasion of Normandy, as he flew in a formation of six aircraft. // “The Americans must have thought we were the enemy. They blasted the hell out of us”, says Mr. Mackenzie, who still has his log books from his war days. // His radiator took direct hit of “ack-ack”, as he calls it, and within seconds the engine began to seize up and the propellor stopped. He was lucky enough to spot a crude airfield the Americans were constructing in the French countryside and was able to land his aircraft. // He was greeting by a racing Jeep, from which a colonel emerged brandishing the guns in a cloud of dust. // “I’m the man who shot you down. The war’s over for you, son,” the American said, thinking Mr. Mackenzie, under the layer of dirt, was an enemy pilot. // “That’s a Canada patch on my shoulder, that’s a Spitfire and you’re an asshole,” was Mr. Mackenzie’s retort. When the confusion was sorted out, Mr. Mackenzie said they retired and downed a bottle of scotch. // The times were different. // Though he was married with four children, Mr.Mackenzie volunteered to go to Korea and was seconded to the U.S. air force. // On December 4, 1952, he was flying on a mission up the west coast of Korea, toward the mouth of the Yalu River. He spotted two enemy MIF-15s below. He notified his commander he was going to give chase. // The message got garbled and he became separated from the U.S. squadron. As he tried to rejoin them, he took a hit from a distant American plane, perhaps five kilometres away. One of the plane’s ailerons was struck, the electrical system was fried and the jet began corkscrewing out of control. He had no option but to bail. // Pulling on two levers, he exploded into the air. Travelling perhaps 800 km/hr, he flapped around like a rag doll, his gloves and helmet flying off. For a moment, he said, he thought his limbs were going to tear off. // He was able to remove his seat buckle and pull the ever activating the parachute. When he landed, he found himself on a hill, not far from a spot where an old woman was gathering sticks. // “You’d have thought this kind of thing happened every day. The woman barely looked up. She was the most stoic person I’ve ever seen.” // It wasn’t long before he was surrounded by Korean and Chinese soldiers. Mr. Mackenzie was detained, even after the war had ended, finally arriving home in Canada in December 1954. // The following year Mr. Mackenzie was invited to spend the weekend at the temporary home of U.S. General Glenn Barcus, who had commanded the air force in Korea. General Barcus said the pilot who shot Mr. Mackenzie was a religious man who struggled with the fact that he had gunned down one of his own. The pilot was transferred to less dangerous duties but died when he crashed his plane into the side of a mountain. // Mr. Mackenzie isn’t sure to this day if the story is true. // “General Barcus told me the pilot admitted to shooting me down and he apologized on behalf of the United States air force,” says Mr. Mackenzie. “I don’t even know his name. I didn’t want to know.” // The retired pilot bears no grudge against the Americans and is philosophical about the four Canadians killed in Afghanistan this week. “It happens in war. You can’t justify it but you can’t dismiss it either. It’s lucky in a way that only four were killed.”