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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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301 Ferry Training Unit Mosquito VI HX805 Fl/Sgt. Haberecht

Operation: Air Test

Date: 9th September 1943 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 301 Ferry Training Unit. 44 Group

Type: Mosquito VI

Serial: HX805

Code: -

Base: RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire

Location: Vines Farm, Grittenham, Wiltshire

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Leonard Burtham Haberecht Aus/413377 RAAF Age 21. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt Alfred H. Dutton 550725 RAFVR Safe


In a later statement, the Staff W/Op/Air/Gnr said: 'I was detailed to carry out a wireless test on mosquito HX805. At approx 10:17 hours on 9th Sept 1943, I entered the aircraft with the pilot Fl/Sgt. Haberecht, who started the engines up and without warming them up, taxied to the end of the runway and took straight off at approx 10:30. We climbed to 5,000 feet and dived downward over the WAAF site at Compton Bassett, clearing the site by about 150 feet. We then climbed to 8,000 feet and dived once more over the site clearing it by about 200/300 feet. We then climbed to 20,000 feet and cruised around while I tested the wireless. At about 10:55, the pilot decided to return to base, and I then reeled in my trailing aerial. The pilot then instructed me to secure my safety harness as he was going to loop the aircraft. We commenced a shallow dive, 160mph.

At 15,000 feet I was secured, and the pilot put the aircraft in a 10-degree dive which we maintained for 20seconds., and the pilot commenced easing the stick back gently when the starboard wing shuddered violently. The pilot released his safety harness and jettisoned the door. The aircraft commenced a flat spin and shuddered. The aircraft then went into a vertical spin.

The pilot picked up my chute pack and pushed it against my chest while I attempted to clip it on. He told me to hurry. At about 2,000 feet having secured one side of my pack, the pilot pushed me out of the door backwards.'

An Inquiry into the accident concluded: 'The aircraft spun in from 15,000 feet out of control and breaking up during descent to burst into flames on impact. The pilot was on duty at the time and in no way to blame for the crash. He deserves commendation for remaining with the aircraft to help his wireless operator to get out of the aircraft at the cost of his own life.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Leonard Burtham Haberecht. Bath Cemetery (Haycombe). Plot 51. Section. H. Row Q. Grave 250. Born on the 28th June 1922 in Henty, New South Wales. Trainee electrical technician before service. Enlisted on the 17th August 1941 at Sydney. Trained with No. 2 Initial Training School then with No. 8 Elementary Flying Training School at Narrandera. After completing this course in January 1942, he was posted to No. 2 Service Flying Training School at Wagga Wagga in early March and 7 SFTS later that month. Haberecht was given his pilot's wings and promoted to sergeant on 26th June 1942.

He married Josephine Babette Hughes in Sydney on the 25th July, while he was waiting to embark on overseas service. Embarked from Sydney on the 23rd of August. Disembarked in Capetown on the 05th October and spent two weeks at No, 1 Flying Training Command at Poolsmere. Embarked for England on the 19th of October arriving on the 18th of November. Leonard Haberecht was promoted to flight sergeant on Christmas Day 1942. Posted to No. 12 Pilot Advanced Flying Unit on the 09th February 1943 where he began flying the Mosquito. In April, began operational flying with 51 Operational Training Unit and in May moved to 60 OTU.

In July he moved again to 301 Ferry Training Unit. He flew several variants of Blenheim, Halifax and Wellington bombers to different airfields during the next month. In early September, he returned to Mosquitoes.

Son of Alfred Leonard (died 03rd November 1972, age 80) and Caroline Beatrice Haberecht (née Heathcote - died 26th September 1944, age 43), of Keightly Street, Henty, New South Wales, Australia and husband of Babette Josephine Haberecht (née Hughes - died 2002, age 79), of Collaroy, New South Wales. Grave inscription: 'To Live In Hearts We Leave Behind Is Not To Die'.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to National Archives Australia, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 16-12-2021

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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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