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Saturday, February 6, 2010


When I first started researching the Non-Commissioned Officers in my grandfathers photo from his friends in the 3rd Battalion, little did I know there would a direct connection to the infamous Red Baron. This profile of Alan Reeve admittedly is one of the more interesting ones I have done.

PART ONE - The Reeve family that resided at 1816 Gerrard St.E., Toronto in August, 1914 had immigrated from Cambridge, England about 1905. The family however, is shown as living at 167 Major Street on the 1911 Census with Charles father, Charlotte mother, Harold son and Maud daughter. This is very close to the University of Toronto - our man Alan Reeve may have attended the school for a year or two but at this time did not reside with the family. Nor did his brother Frederick, who also listed his birthday as November, 1894. It is entirely possible the two brothers Alan and Frederick were twins.

Alan and Frederick Reeve were both members of the 2nd Regiment Queen's Own Rifles militia. Alan joined the draft leaving Toronto for Valcartier and ended up as a Private in "C" Company, 3rd (Toronto) Battalion. Brother Frederick later joined the QOR's 83rd Battalion and was Killed in Action May 9, 1917 while serving with the 19th Battalion in France. This family and brothers are not to be confused with the Reeves Family one of whom also enlisted in the 3rd Battalion (Pte Cedic Reeves #10069) and who will be the subject of a future blog. Alan followed the "Dirty Third" through their Salisbury Plains training and into the trenches in February 1915. He was unscathed from the activities of 2nd Ypres in April, 1915 and promoted to rank of Corporal on May 23. He was hospitalized in July for a short period with Enteritis and in August attached to 3rd Field Company, Canadian Engineers for a week followed by Bombing School. January 9, 1916, Alan Reeve was promoted to full Sergeant in the field. On May 30, 1916, he received a blighty in the form of a severe gun shot wound to his right arm and admitted to hospital in England. Discharged to 12th Reserve Battalion, West Sandling in August 1916 and thence seconded to the Pay Office in London. In March 1917, Sgt. Alan Reeve was sent on command to Officer's Training College, Bexhill and in April was Gazetted as a Temporary Lieutenant. He was sent back to the 3rd Battalion as an officer replacement in the field May 26. In September Alan was attached to the Royal Flying Corps as an observer and sent to London for a one-month course. By November 11, 1917 2/Lt Alan Reeve was seconded for duty with 11th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps in the field in France. A famous Canadian Ace who also flew with the 11th Squadron was Listowel-born Major Andrew Edward McKeever, D.S.O., M.C. and Bar, Croix de Guerre who had 30 kills by wars end. McKeever coincidentally also came out of the ranks of the Queen's Own Rifles and apparently was a crack marksman serving in Toronto's 58th Battalion before being recruited for the R.F.C.

Alan was granted 14 days leave in England on March 1, 1918. On March 24, 1918 he was reported as Missing In Action while flying as the observer to Captain Henry Russell Child in a Bristol F2B (#B1332). The two were flying a patrol over the town of Chuignolles, Somme, south of Bray-sur-Somme, when at 16:35 they were supposedly confronted and shot down by Squadron Leader Baron von Richthofen as The Red Baron's 77th kill. Richhofen was only to fly for a few more weeks and score only three more victories before being shot down himself over the Somme on April 21, 1918.

2nd/Lieut. Alan Reeve and Captain Henry Russell Child have no known grave. Their names are commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial in France. I often wonder if there are graves in the area marked "A Unknown Flying Officer of the Royal Flying Corps" and if they might be identified.


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