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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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485 (NZ) Squadron Spitfire LF.IX BS543 Fl/Sgt. Leslie Samuel McQueen White

Operation: Ramrod 212

Date: 22nd August 1943 (Sunday)

Unit: No. 485 (NZ) Squadron (motto: Ka whawhai tonu - 'We will fight on[). 11 Group

Type: Spitfire LF.IX

Serial: BS543

Code: OU-F

Base: RAF Biggin Hill, Kent

Location: Bolbec, France

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Leslie Samuel McQueen White MiD NZ/413939 RNZAF Age 26. Evaded (1)


Taking off at 18:10 hrs on the 22nd of August. 485 Squadron suffered its worst day during a high cover escort operation for 36 American Marauders two enemy fighter squadrons attacked head-on.

Four 485 Squadron pilots were shot down with two enemy aircraft shot down in return. (see here for details of the other NZ pilots)

Fl/Sgt. White reported he was attacked from all directions by 3 or 4 Fw190s and was almost immediately hit in the glycol tank. He rolled the Spitfire and headed back out to sea, but found his radio had failed to work he headed back towards land when he was intercepted by a further 8 Fw.190s. He went from 12,000 feet to the deck with four pursuing him.

A few moments later he noticed one was on its own and so he attacked it from 150 yards. However, glycol streaming from his engine caused the windshield to mist up and on looking out the side he noticed trees above him. He pulled up and observed the Fw to have crash landed. After a few more manoeuvres he engaged in a head-on attack with another Fw190 but his guns would not fire. His engine then stopped and he force landed near Bolbec, with the pursuing Fw190s still firing at him

Caught by the Germans within half an hour of a crash landing, an hour later he had knocked out his armed guard and escaped. He walked, took trains, was helped by the French, and made his way to south France and Spain without any formal assistance from the French Resistance.

His biography 'Pilot on the Run' was written by Errol Brathwaite, and published by Hutchinson in 1986. ISBN-13: 978-0091651503.

A comprehensive report on his evasion has been written by Miguel Ibáñez of the Trek Pyrenees.

(1) Leslie White was born on the 24th of May 1917 in Gisborne, New Zealand. Prior to enlisting he worked as a sheep shearer when he left school at 15, both in New Zealand and Australia. Enlisted in the RNZAF as soon as the war was declared.

Embarked on the SS Mariposa for Canada (shown above). Trained further at No. 4 Service Flying Training School in Saskatchewan and was awarded his wings on the 28th of February 1942. Post-war he traded in sheep and with the profits he purchased Waingakia Station south of Ruatoria in New Zealand. Leslie White (died on the 23rd July 1988 age 71). Husband of Lorna Susan Kirihautu White (née Dawson - died 28th September 2001, age 85).

MiD Citation was awarded on the 08th of June 1944 for distinguished service and devotion to duty while flying Spitfires with 485 (NZ) Squadron.

DFC Citation was awarded on the 29th of December 1944. 'Fl/Lt. White has taken part in numerous attacks on enemy transport and ground targets and has destroyed or damaged at least 50 mechanical vehicles and three trains. Fl/Lt. White has also destroyed one enemy aircraft and damaged another. His keenness and flying ability have been an inspiration to the other pilots in the squadron'.

Burial details:

Survived the war. Now buried in the Te Pula Cemetery, Tokomaru Bay, Gisborne. BLK 19 Plot. 269.

Above L-R: On wing; 3x unknown ground crew, Leslie Samuel McQueen White NZ/413919, Malcolm George Sutherland NZ/413506, Matthew Metcalfe NZ/4211883, Irvine Philip John Maskill NZ/41487, John Albert Ainge N/Z415279, Hugh Somerset Tucker NZ/415042.

Standing; R. Barnett, Travis (USAAF), Frank Transom, John Arthur Houlton NZ/413543, Neville Ernest Frehner NZ/415409, Corran Perry Ashworth NZ/413367 (visitor), P.H Gaskin, Lyndon Poynton Griffith NZ/40968, Martin Robert Draycott Hume NZ/405335, De la Torre (Intelligence Officer), William Joseph Jordan (High Commissioner), John Milne Checketts NZ/403602 (Commanding Officer), Adolph Gysbert Malan (Station Commander), Alan Christopher Deere NZ/40370 (Wing Commander Flying), John Donald Rae NZ/492896, Bruce Edward Gibbs NZ/402468. (Courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

Above: 485 Squadron pilots relaxing and playing cards in the Dispersal Hut at RAF Hornchurch.

L-R: Allan Bennetto Stead NZ/411996, W.T.H Strahan, Douglas Forrester Clarke NZ/417018, Leslie Samuel McQueen White NZ/413919, Hugh Somerset Tucker NZ/415042, Desmond Arthur Roberts NZ/411994. (Courtesy Air Museum of New Zealand)

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, New Zealand Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, Air Museum of New Zealand, Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, National Archive, Miguel Ibáñez of the Trek Pyrenees

Other sources as quoted below:

KTY 29-05-2023

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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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