Leslie Foster Born 12th March 1921, London. Died 4th December 2010 Age 89
Leslie Foster R.A.F.V.R. 1384880, was born 12th March 1921, and lived on Springfield Road, Tottenham (North London), had trained as a tailor for a short time before the war, enlisted at the R.A.F. office in Euston ( North London ) on 14 February 1941. He walked in as a volunteer and was held back for about a month as he doesn't go to 9 R.C. (No. 9 Recruit Centre) at Brighton Hydro, South Shore, Blackpool until 18 March 1941, which is where he did his basic training, and he stayed at a B&B (Bed and Breakfast) in a large house. Leslie did exercises on the beach many days, and would go out mornings for coffee at a little cafe across the road near the beach. He also went into Blackpool tower for the first time, which also had a zoo and dance hall.
After completion of his basic training he was posted to No. 2 School of Technical Training for his trade training at R.A.F. Cosford, Shropshire - this was just bench training. After that he was posted to 51 M.U. - No. 51 Maintenance Unit, at R.A.F. Lichfield, Staffordshire, where he would have practised his trade live on Rolls Royce Merlin engines.
After completion of his training he was posted to R.A.F. Valley in Anglesey, Wales and 350 Squadron first appears on his record in November 1941 - where he served as an F/M/E (Flight Mechanic (Engines) for about 18 months in 1490 flight as part of 350 Squadron, where he was assigned an aircraft to look after, and moving around with the Squadron to its various locations.
One incident that Leslie remembers is on 26 October 1942, whilst at Rochford (Southend), a Dornier 217 bomber bombed Rochford hospital, it was hit by A.A and crashed on to the airfield, skidded across the 'drome and crashed into a dispersal hut killing W/O. Dyon (Technical Officer) and wounding 2 other mechanics.
His next posting took him away from Fighter Command and Leslie then becomes a Bomber Command man as, with the rapid expansion of Bomber Command, they needed more engine people. This was to work mostly on the Lancaster and Halifax.In June 1943 he was posted to R.A.F. Marston (Marston Moor - R.A.F. Marston Moor is situated at Tockwith, midway between Harrogate and York, and takes its name from the nearby historical English Civil War battlefield.) - which was then renamed 41 Base, and then to 1658 H.C.U. - (Heavy Bomber Conversion Unit for the Halifax 4 engine bomber) at R.A.F. Riccall in Yorkshire - the most common Halifax had radial engines, but some were fitted with the trusty R.R. Merlin XX.
He was next posted to 33 Base at RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire, and then to 32 Base at R.A.F. Mildenhall, Suffolk - his next posting was to No. 14 School of Technical Training, R.A.F. Henlow (Bedfordshire), for more trade training, and then back to R.A.F. Marston, which had reverted back to its original title from 41 Base in early 1946.
Then, finally, Leslie was posted to 100 P.D.C. (No. 100 Personnel Dispersal Centre at RAF Uxbridge in West London) for his official release from the R.A.F. in June 1946, where he would then have been given his "demob suit" and trilby hat and sent off into the world with any gratuity owed and a civilian ration book!!
Leslie met his wife, Jean, whilst she was working at a canteen that was run by a volunteer group. It was held in a church, across the street from the cinema the soldiers and airmen would go to, then come for coffee and games. Jean’s actual job at the time was working in the Food Office handing out ration books. After he married, in 1946, they moved to Selby, North Yorkshire, where Jean came from.
After the war he worked for St. John's Ambulance Brigade in Selby until the family, Leslie, Jean, Colin (eldest son) and John (youngest son), moved to St Charles Mo in the U.S.A. in 1956. From then until he retired Leslie worked on aircraft engines, eventually running the shop where he worked. Leslie was very active with the Boy Scouts of America, and his hobbies after retirement were travel, golf, fishing and his garden. He was in great health until he suffered a stroke in November 2009. Leslie Foster passed away, 4th December 2010.
Biography supplied by Leslie and John T Foster and written by Allan Hillman of the 350 Squadron website.
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