Born September 3, 1920, in Lethbridge, AB, Douglas Aitken moved to Calgary to attended Mount Royal College (now Mount Royal University) for the 1937/38 school year. During his time at Mount Royal, he played on the hockey and rugby teams, and served as the art editor of the 1937/38 Chinook Yearbook. The yearbook congratulated him on outstanding performances in college sports and noted that Aitken had made many friends. He would also meet his wife, Anne Leila Aitken, at Mount Royal. Always wanting to be a pilot, Aitken enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in November 1940.
Aitken was assigned to RCAF No. 403 Squadron, the first Canadian squadron to be formed overseas. As a fighter pilot, Aitken mostly flew the renowned Spitfire. His squadron was tasked with both offensive and defensive air operations – they defended the skies over Britain and battled the Luftwaffe over the English Channel and France.
On March 8, 1942, the 403 was conducting an offensive sweep over the coast of France when it encountered an enemy squadron of Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters. Aitken was shot down during the ensuing dogfight and his plane was never recovered. Douglas Aitken was only 21 years old when died. He is commemorated at the Runnymede Memorial, in Surrey, UK, and by a scholarship fund for students at Mount Royal University.
Additional Information & Further Reading:
Charles Fox – another Canadian Spitfire pilot who took legendary general Ewin Rommel out of the war.
Roy Wozniak – Canadian Spitfire pilot who participated in the Dieppe Raid.
Main photo: Eleven members of RCAF 403 SQN, Feb 12, 1942 (Colourized). (Credit: Canadian Colour)
Canadian Virtual War Memorial. 2022. “Pilot Officer Douglas Spencer Aitken.” Accessed August 2023. https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial/detail/1082608.
Mount Royal University. n.d. “Our Fallen Soldiers.” Accessed August 2023. https://www.mtroyal.ca/GivingMountRoyal/MilitaryMemorialBursaries/our-fallen-soldiers.htm.