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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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51 OTU Havoc I BJ501 Sgt. Leonard James Casey

Operation: Training

Date: 28th November 1942 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 51 Operational Training Unit. 81 Group

Type: Havoc I

Serial: BJ501

Code: -

Base: RAF Cranfield, Bedfordshire

Location: Rutter's Cottage Meadow

Pilot: Sgt. Leonard James Casey NZ/414957 RNZAF Age 21. Seriously injured


The pilot was on solo dusk to the dark training exercise.

Whilst carrying out an overshoot at Twinwood Farm (satellite airfield for RAF Cranfield) when at 18:30 hrs climbed steeply away but crashed and caught fire at Rutter's Cottage Meadow a couple of miles north of the airstrip.

The pilot who was seriously injured was admitted to the Bedford County Hospital where he died at 23:50 hrs without gaining consciousness.

Burial and personal details:

Sgt. Leonard James Casey. Kempston Cemetery. Block J. Grave 114. Born on the 10th February 1921 in Auckland. Educated at Sacred Heart College in Auckland. Worked as a warehouseman for Sargood, Son and Ewen Limited. Enlisted as a pilot under training at Levin on the 07th September 1941. With No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School 18th October 1941. Pilot training terminated at Rongotai on the 22nd of November.

With Initial Training Wing on the 15th December 1941. Joined No. 4 Elementary Flying Training School and recommended pilot training on the 20th December 1941. With No. 3 Service Flying Training School on the 07th February 1942. Then on the 07th March 1942 with No. 2 Service Flying Training School. The pilot badge was awarded on the 11th of May 1942 and promoted to sergeant on the 13th of June 1942.

Embarked for England on the 22nd June 1942 with No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre on the 30th July 1942. Pilot Advanced Flying Unit 18th august 1942. Course with 1512 Beam Approach Training flight for a week's course in September 1942. Joined 51 Operational Training Unit 06th October 1942. A total of 340 flying hours were logged.

Son of Joseph Michael Casey (died 13th October 1958, age 80) and Frances Delia Casey (married 1903 - née Kavanagh - died 14th August 1954, age 74), of 8 Bayfield Road, Herne Bay, Auckland, New Zealand.

Above L-R: Rear; N.L Purdie, John Lillie Marshall NZ/416135, Francis Robert Traill NZ/415301, D.J Towgood, F.K Woodward.

Centre; P.J Reid, Donald Gordon McCaskill NZ/413573, R.A Martin, A.J Renshaw, Hjalmar Lorense Tambour NZ/416182, D.I Stewart.

Front; John Adam Marson NZ/416136, Leonard James Casey NZ/414957, Darrell Albert Farrar Smith MZ/416175, D.V Malcolm, E.A Breen. Inset; Alan James Craig NZ/415062. (Courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 22-07-2022

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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