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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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25th September 1944 601 Squadron Spitfire LF.IXB PT598 Fl/Sgt. Leslie

Operation: Training

Date: 25th September 1944 (Monday)

Unit: No. 601 Squadron (The Millionaires' Squadron (1). 244 Wing. Desert Air Force. Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force

Type: Spitfire LF.IXB

Serial: PT598

Code: UP-?

Base: Fano, Italy

Location: Adriatic Sea

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Colin Richard Leslie NZ/42821 RNZAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed


Taking off at 14:50 hrs to practice bombing at sea.

He is presumed to have entered a dive from which he failed to recover some 8 miles east of the base.

The pilot had only joined the squadron 3 days earlier.

(1) Formed at RAF Northolt on 14th October 1925 when a group of wealthy aristocratic young men, all of whom were amateur aviators, decided to form themselves into a Reserve Squadron of the RAF after a meeting in White's Club, London. The original officers were picked by the first commanding officer, Lord Edward Grosvenor, youngest son of Hugh Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster. Grosvenor tested potential recruits by plying them with alcohol to see if they would behave inappropriately. Grosvenor wanted officers "of sufficient presence not to be overawed by him and of sufficient means not to be excluded from his favourite pastimes, eating, drinking and Whites".

The Squadron was initially known as "the millionaires squadron", a name tag gained because of a reputation for filling their ranks with the very 'well-heeled'. Most of these affluent young pilots had little regard for the rigid discipline of the regular service; they lined their uniform tunics with bright red silk and wore blue ties rather than the regulation black. They played polo on brand-new Brough Superior motor cycles, drove fast sports cars (the squadron car park was said to resemble a Concours d'Elegance) and most of the pilots owned their own private aircraft. (courtesy Tom Moulson, squadron historian)

Burial and personal details:

Fl/Sgt. Colin Richard Leslie. Malta Memorial. Panel 17, Column 2. Born on the 01st Oct 1922 at Kaeo, Northland. Worked as an labourer on his fathers farm at Taupaki prior to service. Enlisted at Whenuapai on the 20th January 1942. Initial training at No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School. Embarked for Canada on the 24th December 1942. Trained at No. 6 Service Flying Training School attached on the 07th February 1943.

Pilots badge awarded on the 28th May 1943 and promoted to sergeant. Embarked for England on the 23rd June 1943. Further training at No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School prior to joining joining 73 Pilots Advanced Flying Unit on the23rd August 1943. Posted to No. 17 Operational Training Unit after embarking for Egypt on the 25th March 1944. After serving in No. 5 Refresher Flying Unit and other holding units joined 601 squadron on the 22nd September 1944.

Son of William Day Leslie (died 12th September 1963, age 82. Buried at Waikumete Cemetery) and Minnie Ethel Leslie (née Nisbet - died 02nd June 1961, age 72. Buried at Waikumete Cemetery), of Taupaki, Auckland, New Zealand. A total of 397 flying hours logged.

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, other sources as quoted below:

KTY 07-09-2021

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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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