Date: 26th August 1944 (Saturday)
Unit: No. 92 Squadron (motto: Aut pugna aut morere - 'Either fight or die'). 244 Wing Desert Air Force
Type: Spitfire LF.VIII
Base: Loreto - On detachment to Rosignano, Livorno, Italy
Location: Airfield at Rosignano
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Leighton John Montgomerie DFC. MiD. NZ/412377 RNZAF Age 22. Injured
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from Rosignano at 18:30 hrs on a dusk patrol over Gorgona - Spezia area.
Whilst over Spezia harbour dived down in pursuit of an enemy aircraft but count cath him. He did come under intense flak during this attack, it is not known if he had been hit.
Reported that his low fuel level was lit he requested to land. During the downwind leg of the circuit he called again I can't make it, I am pulling my wheels up. then turned towards the airfield and crash landed at 20:10 hrs.
He was taken to the American hospital with head injuries but he died early the following morning. Buried the same day at Follonica but reinterred at Florence after the end of hostilities.
DFC Citation LG 07th July 1944:
'Throughout two tours of operational duty, Flight-Lieutenant Montgomerie proved himself an outstanding pilot and a fine leader. During his first tour he participated in operations over Europe and later in the North Africa campaign. In April1944, while engaged on a bomber escort, a number of enemy aircraft attempted to attack. Flight -Lieutenant Montgomerie immediately engaged one of the enemy fighters, which he destroyed before resuming his escort duties. Nine days later, when he was flying in formation of eight aircraft 15 fighters were engaged and he destroyed one, Altogether he has destroyed at least three enemy aircraft and damaged others'.
Fl/Lt. Leighton John Montgomerie DFC. MiD. Florence War Cemetery. Grave VIII. G. 1. Born on the 13th May 1922 at New Plymouth. Prior to service he worked on his fathers farm at Sentry Hill. Enlisted on the 12th April 1941 at Levin. Awarded his pilots badge and promoted to sergeant on the 02nd January 1942. Son of John Eglinton Montgomerie and of Irene Agnes Montgomerie (Née Cameron), of Sentry Hill, New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand. 1188 flying hours logged and on his 334 operational sortie. Credited with 4 enemy aircraft destroyed and 2 as damaged.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Ian Banks, Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, AWMM, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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