Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 20, 2017 11:33:29 GMT 12
The latest Wings Over New Zealand Show is Episode 153 - Phillip Leech.
Phillip Leech was an English-born member of the Royal Air Force, but he served as a Navigator on the Coastal Command Bristol Beaufighter torpedo bombers with No. 489 (NZ) Squadron. His pilot was Pete Brunton, who was also RAF.
Phillip joined the RAF in late 1941 hoping to be a pilot, but the RAF had other ideas and after initial training in London and at Babbacombe, he embarked for Canada where he studied Navigation at Hamilton, Ontario. This was followed by a course in general reconnaissance at Prince Edward Island, before he returned to Britain where he did a course at Squires Gate, Blackpool, in beam navigation. Then he completed a wireless operator’s course at RAF Cranwell.
Posted to the Operational Training Unit at Crosby-on-Eden near Carlyle, Phillip was only there for a day or so before being posted to No. 489 (NZ) Squadron, at RAF Leuchars in Scotland. He was teamed up with Pete Brunton and would have to learn to adjust to the Bristol Beaufighter and operations as he went.
Phillip talks all about life on the squadron, specific operations, and what it was like to fly operationally in the Beaufighter, making torpedo attacks on the German convoys off the coast of Norway, the shipping route up the Dutch coast, and various ports. Phillip served with the squadron also at RAF Langham and RAF Dallachy in Scotland.
When he finished his tour with No. 489 (NZ) Squadron Phillip was posted to an Air Sea Rescue squadron flying as navigator in Supermarine Sea Otters.