ANDERSON, Leslie Lester Sergeant, No.426 Squadron, R101990 Distinguished Flying Medal RCAF Personnel Awards 1939-1949
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ANDERSON, Sergeant Leslie Lester (R101990, later J18158) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.426 Squadron - Award effective 25 April 1943 as per London Gazette dated 7 May 1943 and AFRO 1035/43 dated 4 June 1943. Born in Quebec, 11 March 1914. Home in Ontario or Winnipeg (miner). Enlisted in Winnipeg, 10 May 1941. To No.1 SFTS (guard), 2 June 1941. To No.4 WS, 9 June 1940; promoted LAC, 4 September 1941; graduated 14 March 1942 when posted to No.3 BGS; graduated and promoted Sergeant, 13 April 1942. To “Y” Depot, 14 April 1942; to RAF overseas, 30 April 1942. Commissioned 13 September 1943 (J18158). Subsequwntly promoted Flying Officer and Flight Lieutenant, dates uncertain. Repatriated 8 July 1945. To No.8 Repair Depot, 20 July 1945. Retired 21 September 1945. Cited with Pilot Officer Dallas Laskey (RCAF), awarded DFC. Both were in crew of P/O D.L. Kennedy; incident occurred 4 April 1943. Invested with award at Buckingham Palace November 1943. Photo PL-22358 shows him after investiture with F/L Hugh J. Anderson; caption states he was from North Bay; PL-23615 is a formal portrait. One night in April 1943, Pilot Officer Laskey and Sergeant Anderson were bomb aimer and wireless operator, respectively, of an aircraft detailed to attack Kiel. Whilst over the target area the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire which damaged the rear turret, trapping the gunner. By a strenuous effort, Pilot Officer Laskey was able to move the turret sufficiently to enable the gunner to free himself. Afterwards the target was successfully bombed but, almost immediately, the aircraft was attacked by an enemy fighter and sustained further damage. In spite of this, the pilot attempted to fly the damaged bomber back to this country. During the flight Pilot Officer Laskey and Sergeant Anderson rendered much assistance but their efforts were unavailing. The aircraft came down on the sea and after five and a half hours drifting on an overturned dinghy, Pilot Officer Laskey and Sergeant Anderson, the sole survivors, were picked up. Both displayed great courage and fortitude in very trying circumstances. NOTE: Ian Tavender, The Distinguished Flying Medal Register: Second World War (London, Savannah, 2000) has recommendation drafted 20 April 1943 when he had flown seven sorties (40 hours 13 minutes operational time) as found in Public Record Office, Air 2/4956. Sergeant Anderson was Wireless Operator of a Wellington crew in an attack on Kiel on the night of 4th/5th April 1942. Before reaching the target, the aircraft was hit by flak. After dropping bombs on the target, they were attacked by an enemy night fighter, resulting in further damage to the aircraft. The pilot attempted to reach home and Sergeant Anderson gave cool and resourceful assistance in getting the necessary fixes. Unfortunately the aircraft was forced down at sea. Sergeant Anderson was one of the two survivors picked up. The courage of this Non-Commissioned Officer in assisting to press home an attack under such trying conditions is worthy of recognition. I recommend the award of the Distinguished Flying Medal. To this the Air Officer Commanding, No.6 Group, added: Sergeant Anderson has demonstrated his courage in the face of enemy opposition and under difficult curcumstances. Despite being badly shaken up by the crash at sea followed by 5 ½ hours on an overturned dinghy, he was keen to resume operations. I recommend the award of the Distinguished Flying Medal. DHH file 181.009 D.2624 (Library and Archives Canada RG.24 Volume 20628) has correspondence respecting securing Goldfish Badges for R101990 Sergeant L.L. Anderson, DFM and J22525 P/O D. Laskey, DFC, notably a letter to the Goldfish Club dated 15 May 1943: On the night of the 4th April 1943, the above mentioned formed part of the crew of an aircraft of this Unit which took off on an operational sortie. On the return journey the aircraft was badly damaged and had to be ditched at sea. P/O Laskey and Sergeant Anderson were Bomb Aimer and Wireless Air Gunner respectively and were the only members of the crew who survived when the aircraft was ditched. P/O Laskey and Sergeant Anderson spent approximately five hours in a dinghy before being picked up by a destroyer on the morning of the 5th April 1943. P/O Laskey has however since been reported missing from air operations. The website “Lost Bombers” gives the following on the DFM incident and a subsequent occasion when he was shot down once more. Wellington X3699, target Kiel, 4 April 1943. Airborne at 2030 hours, 4 April 1943 from Dishforth. At 0320 the Wellington was plotted in position 5305N 0130E, but ditched soon afterwards some 10 miles NE of Cromer, Norfolk. Of those killed, F/O Kennedy is buried in Scottow Cemetery, while P/O Walley and Sergeant Beaton are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. The survivors were in the water for nearly five hours before being sighted and picked up by the crew of a RN destroyer. Full crew was F/O D.L.Kennedy, RCAF (killed), P/O K.M.Walley, RCAF (killed) P/O D.Laskey, RCAF, Sergeant L.L.Anderson, RCAF, Sergeant C.N.Beaton, RCAF. Halifax MZ529, No.431 Squadron (SE-E), target Montzen, 27/28 April 1944, was one of four No.431 Squadron Halifaxes lost on this operation (others were LK842; MZ522; MZ536). Airborne 2325 hours, 27 April 1944 from Croft, tasked to bomb the railway yards. Shot down by a night-fighter, crashing near the hamlet of Blauberg (Antwerpen), 3 km ESE of Herselt. Those killed were buried 29 April 1944 at Antwerpen-Deurne, they have been subsequently re-interred in the Cemetery at Schoonselhof. Full crew was F/O L.L. Anderson, DFM (evaded again until 6 June 1944 when betrayed and arrested in Brussels; held at Stalag Luft III, POW number 5976), P/O J.J. Lyng (evaded to 20 May 1944 when arrested in Brussels), P/O W.E. Woodrow, RCAF (killed), P/O D. Harrison, RCAF (evaded), F/O W.R. Knowlton or Knowiton, RCAF (evaded), Sergeant A.L. Gabel, RCAF (killed), Sergeant R.H, Aiano, RCAF (killed), Sergeant R.E. Hazael, RCAF (killed). His own report of being shot down, 26/27 April 1944, was recounted 16 May 1945 in filing “Questionnaire for Returned Aircrew - Loss of Bomber Aircraft.” He had done 25 sorties on his tour: From take-off, over target and until a minute or two before attack the trip was as any normal trip. A few minutes after setting course for home I reported to gunners the sudden appearance of a large blip indicating an aircraft quite close. The pilot did slight evasive action and the gunners a search. The three reported they could see nothing. A quarter moon was coming up against which we may have been silhouetted. I reported every few seconds the continued presence of the blip, yet the gunners could see nothing. Suddenly an attack from the starboard bow raked the aircraft from front to back setting it on fire and destroying the wireless and lighting. The R/T remained in working order. Immediately the engineer reported the aircraft on fire to which the pilot replied, “I know - can you do anything about it ?” The engineer reply “Try feathering the engine - I’ll do what I can here.” I went to his assistance but almost immediately he reported the mainplane on fire and the skipper said, “Well, we’re for it - get ready, fellows.” He tried to contact the gunners but got no reply. I opened the hatch after giving the engineer the pilot’s chute and putting on my own. When I last saw the pilot and hearing him say “everyone bale out at once”, he was putting on his chute though still at the controls. I think he remained too long trying to contact or give the gunners a chance to get out. I followed the Navigator and Bomb Aimer out and was followed by the engineer. Seconds later I saw the aircraft go down in pieces burning fiercely. A fighter passed me in mid air but I did not hear another attack. Was picked up by farmers who reported later they had seen the attack - also next day that five RAF aircraft and four German aircraft were shot down in the district that night.