Alfred Atkey
Alfred Atkey
Alfred Clayburn Atkey
  • Country: Canada
  • Rank: Captain
  • Service: Royal Flying Corps Royal Air Force
  • Units: 18, 22
  • Victories: 38
  • Date Of Birth: August 16, 1894
  • Place of Birth: Toronto, Ontario
  • Date Of Death: February 10, 1971
  • Place of Death: Toronto, Ontario

The Life of Alfred Atkey

In 1906, Alfred Atkey's family left Toronto to pioneer western Canada. From Minebow, Saskatchewan, Atkey returned to Toronto as a journalist for the Toronto Evening Telegram. On October 19, 1916, he enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps as a probationary Second Lieutenant. By September 1917, he was a bomber pilot assigned to 18 Squadron, flying the D.H.4, and on his way to becoming the highest scoring two-seater pilot of World War I. In his fitness reports, he was described as an "expert in gunnery, bombing, photography, reconnaissance."

In May of 1918, Atkey assumed command of "A" flight in 22 Squadron. He switched from flying the D.H.4 to the Bristol F.2B. For his gunner and observer, he chose Lieutenant C.G. Gass. Together, they were a deadly team, shooting down 29 enemy aircraft in less than one month. On one occasion, their "Brisfit" was so badly shot up that Gass had to crawl out onto the lower wing to counterbalance the aircraft so that Atkey could fly it back to base.In an epic dogfight known as "Two Against Twenty," Atkey and Gass, together with John Gurdon and his observer, John Thornton, encountered 20 German scouts during the evening of May 7, 1918. In the battle that followed, Atkey and Gass shot down five enemy aircraft while Gurdon and Thornton shot down three. Two days later, Atkey and Gass again shot down five enemy aircraft in one day.

Military Cross (MC)

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When engaged on reconnaissance and bombing work he attacked four scouts, one of which he shot down in flames. Shortly afterwards he attacked four two-seater planes, one of which he brought down out of control. On two previous occasions his formation was attacked by superior numbers of the enemy, three of whom in all were shot down out of control. He has shown exceptional ability and initiative on all occasions." MC citation, London Gazette, June 22, 1918

Military Cross (MC) Bar

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During recent operations he destroyed seven enemy machines. When engaged with enemy aircraft, often far superior in numbers, he proved himself a brilliant fighting pilot, and displayed dash and gallantry of a high order." MC Bar citation, London Gazette, September 16, 1918