On November 12, 1917, Hammond suggests that the Huns had poorer air ability and described a successful hit, “I had the luck to shoot a two seater plane down and he fell behind our own lines, of course, both pilot and observer were killed but we managed to salve his camera out of the wreckage as he was engaged in taking photos behind our line.” Hammond’s fame is connected with two aerial engagements. The first took place on February 18, 1918; as gunner of his aircraft, he shot down two German fighters and was awarded the Military Cross. The second took place on March 27 of the same year, and involved 2nd Lt. A.A. McLeod , a Canadian pilot. The battle saw Hammond awarded with the bar to his Military Cross and McLeod the Victoria Cross for “valour in the face of the enemy.” (This is the highest honour that can be awarded to a Commonwealth soldier and is very rare.) However, this award came with a very high price. *Hammond “had been wounded six times when the machine crashed” and 2nd Lieutenant McLeod, “notwithstanding his own wounds, dragged him away from the burning wreckage at great personal risk from heavy machine-gun fire from the enemy’s lines. This very gallant pilot was again wounded by a bomb whilst engaged in this act of rescue, but he persevered until he had placed Lieutenant Hammond in comparative safety, before falling himself from exhaustion and loss of blood.” Lt. Hammond lost his leg because of the injuries. McLeod hovered between life and death for months, but by the beginning of September appeared to be recovering well. However, upon his return to Canada to continue his recuperation, contracted the Spanish Influenza virus; in his weakened state he developed pneumonia and died.
I invite you to come into our Museum to read the letters yourself, along with other related information about this “interesting face”, Arthur William Hammond.
*This is an excerpt from a book written about Lt. McLeod that describes these events. Read more at (http://www.constable.ca/caah/mcleod.htm)