Monday, April 17, 2017

Donald R. MacLaren

Born in Ottawa, Ontario on 28 May 1893 MacLaren briefly attended McGill University in Montreal. He returned to Vancouver, his family’s home, completed a surveyor's course and worked as a fur trapper for several years with his father. In 1917 he joined the Royal Flying Corps.

He did his initial training at 90 Central Training School at Armour Heights and then at Camp Borden in Ontario, then finally received further training in England at No. 43 Training School, Ternhill. 

He was then transferred into No. 34 Training School for final fighter orientation on the Bristol Scout and Sopwith Camel, completing 9 hours solo on the Camel. 

On 23 November 1917 he was sent to France where he joined No. 46 Squadron.
He proved a natural fighter pilot and had amassed an impressive 54 victories, 43 within the space of four and a half months. He would be the highest scoring ace while flying the Sopwith Camel.

His combat career came to an end the day after his 54 victory when he broke his leg while wrestling with a friend in October 1918.

He was the third most successful Canadian ace of the war, recipient of the Military Cross with bar, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Distinguished Service Order. He was also awarded the French Legion of Honour and Croix de guerre.

Following the Armistice, he helped form the Royal Canadian Air Force before retiring to begin a career in civil aviation. He was also the founding father of the Air Cadet League of Canada and was invested into Canada's aviation hall of fame in 1977. 

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