IT IS eighty years, almost to the day, since Paisley ace pilot Archie McKellar was killed in action.

He is famous for being the first World War Two pilot to shoot down a German aircraft on British soil – a panel of the plane in question now resides in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum – and the deadly firefight in the skies above Kent in which he lost his life.

But there could be more to the story of Archie’s death than meets the eye, according to Tristram Carter, who is writing a book about the fateful events of November 1, 1940.

“I have always been interested in the history of the squadron and once I started digging, I became really interested in Archie’s story,” says Tristram, who trained with 605 Squadron. “I found combat reports and some of the details did not make sense. I started puzzling over how he really died - and I think I have uncovered quite a story.”

Glasgow Times:

During the Battle of Britain, Archie McKellar was a Squadron Leader with 605 Squadron. Born in Paisley in 1912, apprentice plasterer Archie joined the Auxiliary Air Force in 1936 and was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in 1940. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar and the Distinguished Service Order for shooting down 21 enemy aircraft, including five Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters in 24 hours, earning him the illustrious honour of ‘ace in a day’.

But what really happened on the morning of November 1, 1940?

READ MORE: Heartbreaking story behind Glasgow WWI surgeon hero Daisy Bennett McGregor

Tristram knew the official story – that the squadron had been involved in a firefight with German Me109s, and Archie’s plane had been shot down, although no-one had seen exactly what had happened.

“But the more I read, the more I was confused,” he says. “On November 15, Acting OC of 605 Squadron, Flight Lieutenant Christopher ‘Bunny’ Currant, refers to Archie’s death as an ‘accident’ – that is a strange choice of words. I researched reports of all Luftwaffe aircraft airborne on November 1, and the only reference to a German Me.109 plane in enemy action over the south coast of England that day was at 4pm, eight hours too late.

“I read an account by George Jackson, a fellow native of Paisley, which revealed that shortly after Archie was killed a story was circulating in his old unit that he had been shot down by one of his own men.”

Glasgow Times:

The final piece of the jigsaw fell into place for Tristram when he met the family of Bunny Currant.

Amongst his papers was his recollection of his part in the Battle of Barking Creek, on September 6, 1939, in which two RAF Hurricanes were lost to friendly fire.

“One of the pilots was killed, a Court Martial was convened and Bunny saw it all happen,” says Tristram. “The effect on the sqaudron’s morale was terrible. Knowing this, I believe Bunny made the decision not to report what those who were airborne believed had happened that day - that one of them had accidentally hit Archie. I believe Archie’s death was as a result of friendly fire.

Glasgow Times:

“Did he do the right thing? My opinion is that yes, he did. We have no idea of the stresses and strains of air combat back in 1940. Bunny Currant should be applauded for the strong leadership he displayed in saving 605 Squadron to fight another day. It is a very sad story, and I’m not criticising anyone.

“I just want to tell the story so his family know what really happened to him.”