Making Their Story Our History
Cart 0

Fighting High Books

You Never Know Your Luck


Battle of Britain to the Great Escape. The Extraordinary Life of Keith 'Skeets' Ogilvie DFC

by Keith C. Ogilvie

Hardback - 296pp - 234 x 156mm. Approx 30 b&w photographs.

World Rights - Fighting High Ltd. ISBN - 978-0-9934152-2-7.


When the Royal Canadian Air Force wouldn’t accept him as a pilot in the summer of 1939, Keith ‘Skeets’ Ogilvie walked across the street in Ottawa and joined the Royal Air Force.  A week later he was on a boat to England and a future he could not have imagined.  Some unusual luck won him a transfer as a Spitfire pilot to No. 609 (White Rose) Squadron, just as the Battle of Britain was being joined.  Over the next months he firmly established his credentials with six confirmed victories and two probables, along with several enemy aircraft damaged.  Shot down over France the following July, he was fortunate to be treated for grievous injuries by top German surgeons.  Skeets’ home for the balance of the war was Stalag Luft III prison camp.  He was the second last man out of the ‘Great Escape’ tunnel but was recaptured three days later.  For reasons he never understood, Skeets was one of 23 escapees who were spared from being murdered by the Gestapo.  50 of his fellows were not so lucky.

In London on a night off from flying duties, Skeets had been introduced to a fellow Canadian expatriate, Irene Lockwood.  While he was testing the limits of his luck, his future wife was experiencing her own adventures in London, living through the daily stress of the Luftwaffe bombing campaign and working with MI12, and later as a wartime photographer with the RCAF. 

You Never Know Your Luck is the story of two modest people who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances, and who rose to the occasion like so many of their contemporaries.  Skeets’ and Irene’s own words and memories are the foundations on which the experience of wartime unfolds. A unique perspective from individuals who never failed to wonder at their own fortune.

Author: Keith C. Ogilvie describes himself as the ‘lucky’ son of Skeets and Irene Ogilvie.  As he grew up he gradually came to understand just how remarkable the lives of his parents had been.  Working from a trove of personal correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks and media, together with memoirs of others and research covering the events of the time, he has chronicled the highlights of these two memorable lives.

Share this Product

More from this collection