Pilots jested about winning a Wooden Cross; the squadron mechanics crafted exactly that for his grave at Wavans, near Abbeville. In Melbourne, The Herald’s overblown obituary concluded: “Before he perished he wrote his name in the sky, and he died on the wings of fame.”
“Wings of fame?” Hardly. Dying for his country, but not in an Australian uniform, won Alec only modest, fading formal recognition.
Alec soon ended in the back row of history, quite literally at Wavans, where he lies at the rear of the 44 graves while the front-row headstone of British ace James McCudden VC is often decorated by visitors.
He’s not on those numbing walls at the Australian War Memorial listing 102,000 war deaths, but is in a Commemorative Roll incorporating those killed in Allied units. At the Shrine in Melbourne, he’s in the ‘Sundries’ book.
In Canberra’s aviator-themed suburb of Scullin, it seems ironic that Little Place is a dead-end street.
Alec vanished from the memory of all but military aviation enthusiasts until a 2012 biography introduced him to a wider audience. The subsequent astonishing find of a bag of his belongings at a Queensland waste depot was widely reported.
There’s one last Wooden Cross for Alec Little. Every Remembrance Day, Scotch College erects small white crosses with the names of 226 old boys who died in the Great War.
Story: Mike Rosel, WHO is the author of Unknown Warrior: The Search For Australia’s Greatest Ace, first published by Australian Scholarly Publishing of Melbourne.
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