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Original 1933-34 “Sky Birds” Artwork of Canadian WWI Pilot Lt. Alan A. McLeod.

Lot 1. Original 1933-34 “Sky Birds” Artwork of Canadian WWI Pilot Lt. Alan A. McLeod. This original gouache painting, approximately 4.75” x 5.75”, was used to create card #85 in the 108-card set National Chicle issued in 1933 and 1934. According to text on the card back, McLeod was the only bomber pilot in World War I to earn the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for British and Commonwealth forces for gallantry in the face of the enemy. We have not been able to confirm that he was the only bomber pilot honored, but he definitely deserved and received the award. While growing up in Manitoba Province in Canada, McLeod was only 15 when he first tried, unsuccessfully, to enlist in the military to serve in World War I. At the age of 18, he was more successful, and after training, he was shipped to France. He was still only 18 on March 27, 1918 when, flying over Albert, France, in a Whitworth F.K.8, he and his observer, Lt. Arthur Hammond, destroyed an enemy triplane. Immediately they were attacked by eight planes; they brought down three. During the battle, McLeod and Hammond both were wounded by machine gun bullets. When their plane’s gas tank was punctured and the aircraft set on fire, McLeod maneuvered the plane into a very steep side-slip to fan the flames away from him and Hammond. The flames continued to scorch him, however. To escape them, he then jumped out of the cockpit onto the left wing and crouched low, with the joystick pulled hard over in his right hand. Next he smashed a hole through the fabric in the fuselage so that he could reach the rudder-wire with his left hand and guide the plane. His action kept the flames away from him and Hammond and prevented the aircraft from burning up. During this time, the plane apparently remained under enemy fire. When it finally crashed in No Man's Land, McLeod, despite his own injuries, dragged Hammond from the burning wreckage and, under heavy fire, carried him to relative safety before collapsing from exhaustion and loss of blood. McLeod had three wounds; the six Hammond received caused him to lose a leg. Prior to this encounter, McLeod apparently was known for using his bomber as a fighter plane when he could. He and his observer had shot down several German aircraft. To recuperate from his injuries, McLeod returned to Manitoba. He was only 19 when the Spanish influenza epidemic claimed his life there. At the invitation of McLeod’s family, Hammond moved to Manitoba after the war. He remained in Canada and died there in 1959 at the age of 69. This one-of-a-kind National Chicle artwork of McLeod shows a number of tiny, light stains. It is free of creases and displays beautifully. (For an example of McLeod’s “Sky Birds” card, please see Lot 648.) Winning Bid $3,146.    

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       Winning Bid  $3,146


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