McKellar, Archibald Ashmore “Archie”.born, 10-04-1912 in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, the son of John and Margaret McKellar. He went to school at Shawlands Academy in Glasgow. After leaving school he spent some time working for a local stockbroker, before joining his father’s construction company as an apprentice plasterer.
McKellar was fascinated by flying, and by tales of World War One pilots. In 1933, at the age of 21, he joined the Scottish Flying Club, which was based at Renfrew Airport. He rapidly gained his pilot’s licence and was soon making his name as an enthusiastic and able flyer. This brought him to the attention of Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Clydesdale, who commanded No 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron of the Auxiliary Air Force, based at nearby RAF Abbotsinch where it flew Hawker Hart and Hawker Hind biplane light bombers. McKellar was commissioned as a pilot officer in the Auxiliary Air Force on 08-11-1936 and began flying with 602 Squadron. Like other squadron members he was a reservist who served on a part-time basis. McKellar was promoted to flying officer on0 -03-1938. On 10-05-1941, Rudolf Hess parachuted into Scotland; the reason for his doing so was ostensibly to meet with the Duke Douglas-Hamilton and plot a secret peace treaty that would lead to the supremacy of Germany within Europe and the reinforcement of the British Empire without.
With the approach of war, the 602 squadron converted to a fighter role and re-equipped with Supermarine Spitfires. It mobilised at RAF Grangemouth in central Scotland on 06-10-1939 and moved to RAF Drem in East Lothian a month later, charged with defending Edinburgh and the shipping area around the Firth of Forth. On 16-10-1939 McKellar was flying one of two Spitfires that shot down a Ju88 bomber over the Firth of Forth. His flight commander, flying the second Spitfire, was credited with the kill, though some sources suggest it should have been shared. On 28-10-1939 McKellar attacked a Heinkel He 111H-2 bomber with other Spitfires and was credited with his first kill. On 28-05-1940, 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron moved to RAF Drem, flying Hurricanes. On 21-06-1940 McKellar was transferred to 605 Squadron on promotion to flight lieutenant.
On 15-08-1940, 605 Squadron intercepted a German raid on Tyneside by He 111 bombers flying from Norway. McKellar shot down three He 111s during the raid and was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. On 07-09-1940, 605 Squadron moved to Croydon Aerodrome south of London under the command of Squadron Leader Walter Churchill. Two days later, on 9 September 1940, McKellar shot down four enemy aircraft in a single day. He destroyed three He 111 bombers with a single burst. The first He 111 exploded. It damaged a second which rolled over and dived down into the ground. McKellar then aimed at a third, destroying its port wing. On a separate sortie that same afternoon he shot down a Bf 109 fighter. Two days after that McKellar was promoted to squadron leader, and took over command of 605 Squadron at the age of 28. Squadron leader Walter Churchill Churchill was killed in action on 27-08-1942, age 34, while leading a raid in a Spitfire on Biscari airfield near Gela in southern Sicily. He was buried at the Syracuse War Cemetery.
McKellar shot down three more enemy aircraft on 15-09-1940, and another shortly after midnight, early on 16 September. This resulted in the award of a second Distinguished Flying Cross. On 07-10-1940 McKellar shot down five Bf 109 fighters in a single day, and on 20-10-1940 he shot down two more, though only one was formally credited to him. He shot down three more Bf 109 fighters in encounters on 26-10-October, 27 October and the morning of 01-11-1940.
Death and burial ground of McKellar, Archibald Ashmore “Archie”.
A little after it got dark on 01-11-1940, McKellar, age 28, was killed when his Hurricane crashed near Adisham in Kent. It is believed that he was shot down by Hauptmann Wolfgang Lippert, who was flying a Bf109 fighter of Jagdgeschwader 27 under command of Oberst, later Generalmajor Max Ibel. During his short career as a fighter pilot Squadron Leader Archibald McKellar had shot down 21 enemy aircraft, with a further two that were not credited to him but probably should have been. On 08-11-1940 McKellar was posthumously awarded a for his “outstanding courage and determination” in leading his squadron.
Archie McKellar was buried at New Eastwood Cemetery in Thornliebank, East Renfrewshire. There is a sad irony in that the dates subsequently chosen for what we now call “The Battle of Britain” were 10 July 1940 to 31 October 1940. As a result Archie, the RAF’s second most successful fighter ace during the battle, was deemed to have been killed the day after it ended. He is therefore not listed on the Battle of Britain roll of honour in The RAF Chapel in Westminster Abbey.