LEST WE FORGET

Lieutenant John Alexander Hunter McKEOWN

Service No: 5786
Born: Romsey VIC, October 1894
Enlisted in the Army: 16 February 1916
Unit: No. 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
Died: Air Operations, France, 14 October 1918, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Laventie Military Cemetery, La Gorgue, Nord Pas de Calais, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John Alexander and Jane McKeown, of Walton Street, Werribee, Victoria, Australia. Born Romsey, Victoria
Place of Association: Werribee VIC
Remembered: Panel 188, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Smith (1) led out ten machines again in the afternoon, and at 4 o’clock met twelve Fokkers at 16.000 feet over the Scheldt River, north-west of Tournai.  A general dog-fight” at once began, and extended for nearly twenty-five minutes over a wide spread of sky.  As the opposing formations met almost head-on, Smith attacked the leader and, after a long burst of fire, ending at almost touching range, this Fokker fen and crashed near the little village of Havron on the bank of the Scheidt. Stone (2) and Roberts (3) each shot down one German out of control at the first encounter. Smith turned to attack another Fokker on the tail of Stone’s machine, fired 100 rounds into it, and that too went down steeply, turning very slowly.  Meanwhile Stone, having put his first opponent out of action, found himself at 9,000 feet and in position to dive on another Fokker, which was climbing for the upper air.  Into this he fired ninety rounds at deadly close range and saw it crash on the river bank.  The fight had now broken up into a scattered series of duels. Three wrecked machines were seen to he lying on the river bank near Havron, but one of these may have been an Australian, for two of our pilots were shot down in the engagement – McKeown killed (4), Cornish (5) taken prisoner.

(1) Lieutenant James Leybourne Smith DFC 524; Born Darlinghurst NSW, 24 November 1983
(2) Lieutenant Charles Owen Stone 753; Born Chingford, Essex, September 1893
(3) Lieutenant Frank Leonard Roberts 467; Born Bendigo VIC, 18 August 1896
(4) SE5a aircraft D6968
(5) Captain Edmond Warhurst Cornish MC and Bar 2352 PoW; Born Marrickville NSW, July 1897, flying SE5a aircraft E5989 (killed in the crash of DH60 aircraft G-AUHA near Marulan NSW along with Student Pilot G K Wride on 11 February 1929).

Extract from Cutlack, F.M. (Frederic Morley) The Australian Flying Corps in the Western and Eastern Theatres of War 1914-8, Angus and Robertson Ltd Sydney, 1941 – Pages 373, 375

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record B2455, MCKEOWN J A H
National Archives UK RAF Casualty Book AIR 1/969 page 370,190769

Bibliography:

Bennett, J. (John William) Highest Traditions: the history of No. 2 Squadron RAAF, Australian Government Publishing Service, 1995

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