William Neil “Mac” McKechnie GC (EGM exchanger)

b. 27/08/1907 Kasauli, India. d. 30/08/1944 over Pakorber, Germany.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 20/06/1929 Cranwell Aerodrome.

William Neil “Mac” McKechnie (1907-1944) was born on 27th August 1907 in Kasauli, India the son of Lt. Col. William Ernest McKechnie, I.M.S. and Marion Alice McKechnie (nee Curram). William Snr was with the Indian Medical Service. Neil, as he was known, entered the Perse School in Cambridge as a boarder in School House on 13th January 1921, but he left at the end of the summer term in 1923.

McKechnie GC on Runnymede Memorial

Neil married Mary Roma Doig, of Musselburgh, Midlothian, the daughter of a professional golfer. The couple had two children, Fiona and David. Neil joined the Royal Navy and began his training at Halton and passed on to Cranwell, where he also shone on the rugby and hockey pitches as well as in the air.

On 20th June 1929 at Cranwell Aerodrome, an aircraft piloted by Flight Cadet C.J. Giles crashed on landing and burst into flames. McKechnie, who had just landed himself, ran at full speed towards the scene, where petrol had spread over a large area, with Giles lying in it, dazed. He was badly burned about the legs and faces and his clothes were on fire. After dragging Giles clear of the flames, during which he was scorched and burned, McKechnie extinguished Giles’ clothes. He saved Giles’ life.

The London Gazette announced the award of the Empire Gallantry Medal of the Military Division on 18th October 1929. He was commissioned in the RAF on 14th December 1929 and was posted to RAF Calshot. He was promoted to Flying Officer in 1931 and Flight Lieutenant in 1935. Between 1936-1937 he served on the North West Frontier in India, and was promoted to Squadron Leader on 1st August 1938.

On the outbreak of World War II he served in the Middle East until 1942 when he returned to England, and commanded heavy bomber stations. He was promoted to Wing Commander in February 1943, and in July that year, was made Temporary Group Captain. Tragically on the night of 30th August 1943, the Lancaster III he was flying was shot down over Pakarbor, Germany and exploded on impact with the ground. Neil McKechnie’s body was not recovered. He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial Panel 200.

Neil’s medals included the GC, Indian General Service Medal with “North West Frontier 1936-37” clasp, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, Defence Medal 1939-45 and War Medal 1939-45 are privately held.




PANEL 200.