Borden Class Told Not to Fly Dangerously
Ottawa, 4 Dec. 1942 - (CP) - Flight Lieutenant Henry Wallace McLeod of Regina, top-scoring Spitfire pilot of the R.C.A.F., who shot down 13 enemy aircraft over Malta in a little more than four months and probably damaged or destroyed "many others," is back in England for a rest, R.C.A.F. headquarters said tonight.
Good Hunting at Malta
Won Rapid Promotion
A little later, McLeod was posted to another newly formed Malta Spitfire squadron and rapidly became a flying officer, then a flight lieutenant and flight commander.
Almost always, McLeod recalled, he and his mates fought against great numerical odds.
"Usually most of us came through safely, while a lot of the Huns or Italians didn't," he said. The first plane he destroyed was an Italian Macchi, which, McLeod insisted "went into the drink from sheer fright."
"The Italians always go in for weird and wonderful aerobatics, which is about the best thing they do. This chap was hit by my fire, but I don't think he was out of control. He just appeared to panic and hit the sea in a deep spiral dive."
The second plane he destroyed, an ME 109, was hit just behind the fuselage so the gasoline tank exploded and blew the craft to pieces right in front of McLeod's airscrew. Bits of the wreckage spattered the British machine.
"The pilot was thrown clear," McLeod said, "and his 'chute opened. After he hit the water, I circled him and he waved to me, apparently quite cheerfully. So I dropped my dinghy for him to show that I had no ill feelings either.
"He didn't make any attempt to climb into the rubber dinghy, but one of our rescue launches came out and picked him up. He had a cannon shell through his chest, and he died in the launch."
McLeod was shot down for the first time when a Reggiane 2001 hit his Spitfire in the oil cooler, forcing him to crash-land. He was shot down again when 25 Junkers 88's came over Malta just at dusk, against the setting sun, and McLeod led a section of four Spitfires in attack. He shot down two enemy aircraft, and the other pilots between them shot down three more and damaged others.
"One of their tail gunners hit my engine, but I managed to flog the old motor long enough to shoot down another of them before I landed. Then, just to put the lid on the experience, I found that the airdrome was under a bombing attack as I was coming in."
The engagement which gave him the greatest satisfaction was when eight Spitfires took on more than 70 attacking enemy machines at the height of the recent blitz on Malta. The Canadian's main-plane was holed and his flaps blown off, but with the last burst of ammunition from his one still-firing cannon he accounted for one of the attackers.
By the time McLeod left Malta he had destroyed seven ME 109's, three JU 88's and three Macchi 202's, and had probably destroyed or damaged many others.
He was recommended for the D.F.C. after he shot down his first five planes, and for a bar to the decoration after knocking down about six others.
McLeod's only lament is that he hasn't Screwball Beurling's shooting eye, or he's sure he would have destroyed most of the "probables" and damaged planes to his credit.
The day before McLeod left for England he celebrated his last half hour in the air war over Malta by shooting down his 13th enemy machine.
Montreal Standard, 5 December 1942 -
Who is highest scoring Spitfire pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force ?
Few Canadians could give a quick answer to that query, for little prominence has hitherto been given the feats of Flight Lieutenant Henry Wallace McLeod, DFC and Bar, a lean six-footer who hails from Regina. He is officially credited with the distinction of top RCAF fighter ace.
F/L McLeod destroyed 13 enemy aircraft, plus many probable and damaged, won his decorations and two promotions in 18 action-crammed weeks over the fortress island of Malta. In one five-day period he shot down six aircraft. Twice he was brought down himself, five times shot up and damaged. The blue-eyed, sandy-haired unassuming Saskatchewan ace has just arrived back in England for a rest from operations. Judging from his record, he has certainly earned it. He came back to Britain weighing 147 pounds fully dressed. When he entered the RCAF he had tipped the scales at 169 pounds.
No Flying Fool
Wallace McLeod is not the “flying fool” type of airman. “He tempers daring with caution, and is never given to over-confidence,” a friend of his wrote on one occasion to McLeod’s parents.
His modesty has been demonstrated for he twice refused his flight lieutenancy because he felt that he lacked sufficient experience for the job. Not until he went to Malta did he finally accept the promotion.
Through and through, he is a gallant warrior of the clouds. Once, after he had knocked down a Nazi plane, he circled the spot and threw out his own rubber dinghy to the German pilot. The German was saved from the sea but died later in a British hospital in Malta.
On another occasion, he went to visit a Nazi whom he had shot down, only to find that he had died in hospital. “I’ll have to be more careful not to hit the pilot in a vulnerable spot in future,” he wrote to his parents in Regina. Wallace McLeod apparently has no desire to kill Huns but his record shows he is not backward about hunting out German planes and knocking them out of the sky.
The events in the life of Wallace McLeod before the war give an insight in the type of man who today ranks as the ace of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
He was born in Regina, December 17, 1915. His father, J. Arch McLeod, now superannuated from service with the Saskatchewan government, was teaching temporarily in the normal school in Regina that winter and had moved into the city from Estevan, a town in the southeast corner of the province. When the temporary work was done, Mr. and Mrs. McLeod and their young son returned to Estevan. There, Wallace received his public school education and grade nine high school. He completed his high school education when Mr. McLeod was transferred permanently to Regina as a high school inspector.
School was something that Wallace McLeod never liked. He bucked it from beginning to the end. He never studied, except when examination time came around. Nevertheless, he was clever. He had ability, was quick to learn and learned easily. This was shown in the fact that he never missed a grade.
In school, he was quite an all round chap. He was not an outstanding athlete but he was as good, or a shade better, than the average at boxing, running, swimming, hockey, rugby. He never went after making a name for himself but was content to pull his full weight on the team and leave the glory to those who sought it. This trait has shown itself in the part he has played in the war in the air.
Wallace, in his school days and afterwards, could always take care of himself. He showed early, keen and quick powers of observation. He was clever with his hands, quick and accurate when working at painstaking jobs.
Tear as Teacher
When he finished high school in Regina, he attended normal school and then taught for a year at a school near the town of Oxbow in Saskatchewan, in 1934-35. If Wallace ever thinks about it, he must smile to himself over that paradox. Here was a chap who had demonstrated all through his school years an aversion to study - yet here he was actually teaching school.
But it didn’t last. He came back to Regina and again went to school, this time to take a course in Commercial High School in Regina.
To explain this business of going back to school twice after finishing high school - it should be remembered that when Wallace graduated from school, Saskatchewan had a bad case of the “miseries.” Those were depression years of the worst kind for the prairie province and the world’s ills which were reflected in Saskatchewan were augmented by repeated years of crop failures. So there were few jobs if any that a boy out of high school could find. Wallace prepared himself for teaching and when he didn’t like that, he went back to school to prepare himself for business.
His schooling eventually finished, he took three different jobs in Regina but all of them were at starvation wages - each a little worse than the one before. Finally, he got a job with a film company in Regina and after working there a short time he got an idea.
He would get a motion picture projector, arrange for pictures and go about the province showing motion pictures in small towns. It was an idea that required capital. He got an acquaintance to go in with him and after some scouting found financial backing and started out.
They did fairly well - after a fashion. They built up a good circuit of towns in southeastern Saskatchewan and the western part of Manitoba and showed some of Hollywood’s best productions in town halls and such other buildings as they could find. The receipts grossed well but expenses were high too - mostly because of the amount of traveling they had to do. There as not enough in it for two, so Wallace McLeod bought out his partner and continued the circuit alone for the next four years.
Then came the war. Wallace McLeod put in his application right away with the air force. Volunteers came faster than the air force could handle them. Those who were in the city and close to the recruiting stations could push their cases personally. Wallace was out of town most of the time and he had a long wait before he got in. Eventually, on Labor Day 1940, he was signed up.
After a few preliminary questions by the examining officers, he was selected to be a pilot. He took training at No.2 ITS at Regina, and his EFTS and SFTS at Prince Albert and Camp Borden. Immediately upon graduation, he was recommended for a pilot officer’s commission. He had graded high in all his tests.
Early in May 1941 he went to England and during his stay there participated in 45 sweeps over enemy occupied territory. On June 5 this year he reached Malta, the hot spot of the Mediterranean.
His first “destroyed” was an Italian Macchi 202 which, McLeod insists, “went into the drink from sheer fright.”
“The Eye-ties,” he says, always go in for weird and wonderful aerobatics, which is about the best thing they do. This chap was hit by my fire, but I don’t think he was out of control. He just appeared to panic, and hit the sea in a steep spiral dive.”
His second destroyed was a Me.109 that he hit just behind the fuselage, so that the petrol tank exploded and blew the kite to pieces in front of McLeod’s propeller. Bits of wreckage spattered the British machine.
The first time McLeod had the tables reversed and was shot down himself, was when his Spitfire was hit in the oil cooler by a Reggiane 2001, and he had to crash-land. The second time was when 25 Ju.88s came in over the island just at dusk, against the setting sun, and McLeod led a section of four Spits in attack. The Regina pilot himself shot down two, and the rest of the fighters shared three more destroyed and others damaged.
“One of their tail gunners hit my engine,” he remembers, “but I managed to flog the old motor long enough to shoot down another of them before I landed. Then, just to put the lid on the experience, I found that the airdrome was under a bombing attack as I was coming in.”
The scrap which gave McLeod the greatest satisfaction, he says, was when eight Spits took on more than 70 attacking enemy machines at the height of the recent sustained blitz on Malta. The Canadian’s mainplane was holed and his flaps blown off, but with the last burst of ammunition and one still-firing cannon he accounted for one of the attackers.
McLeod’s total Malta score when there stood at thirteen destroyed (seven Me.109s, three Ju.88s and three Macchi 202s, many others probably destroyed and damaged). He was recommended for his first award after he had destroyed his first five opponents, his bar after about six more.
One of his letters to his father describing an incident at Malta shows the kind of fighter Wallace McLeod is. He sent with the letter a clipping from the Malta Times which said:
“During Friday afternoon’s engagement one of our fighter pilots performed an act of chivalry which was in marked contrast with the enemy’s habit of machine gunning defenceless airmen.
“This pilot saw a German fighter aircraft shot down and the enemy pilot baled out over the sea. Our own pilot threw his rubber dinghy out of his cockpit and when it hit the sea, the badly wounded German airman was able to clamber aboard and was saved by a RAF high speed launch but subsequently died of his wounds.
“In making this gesture, the British knew that he was throwing away his chance of survival in the event of being shot down himself.”
On the clipping, Wallace commented, “I’m enclosing a clipping from the Malta Times regarding yours truly. It’s a bit of a line as they say over here, but knowing what parents are, thought you wound like to see it. What they omitted to mention was the fact that I was also the man who shot him down.”
When McLeod was transferred to Malta he was not permitted to inform any of his relatives that he was going. But to allay any anxiety that his parents might have when letters failed to arrive, he had a fellow airman in England write to his family.
The friend was Paris Eakins, who is now reported missing. He wrote to Mr. McLeod, “Wally wanted to go to Malta. I never met a better pilot. He is exceptionally keen and is resourceful. He always tempers daring with caution and is always avoiding over-confidence,” wrote Eakins....
The paper mentioned that on 17 September 1942 he had shot down a German fighter and that the pilot had been captured and taken to a Malta hospital. In a letter to his parent he wrote, “I hope to go and see him”, but on learning that the pilot had died he wrote again about being more careful to avoid hitting enemy pilots.
London, Feb. 8, 1944 - (CP) - The number of R.C.A.F. units now overseas has been swelled to about 40 with the arrival in the United Kingdom of several squadrons.
Overseas headquarters announced the arrival today and said the units arrived with a full complement of air and ground crews, but did not disclose the type of squadrons. The airmen, who came from many parts of Canada, included fighter pilots, some of whom have completed one tour of operations overseas.
The announcement said the units, which were accompanied by a large draft of personnel for all branches of the service, including the Women's Division and nursing sisters, were complete. They arrived by ocean transport, presumably without aircraft, which probably will be provided in the United Kingdom.
Welcoming them, G/C G. C. Bond of the Air Ministry said: "We are most grateful for all the Dominions are doing in all parts of the world and especially for the very large part your airmen now are taking in the air offensive in Europe, which is a magnificent contribution toward hastening victory.
Canada's air arm in the United Kingdom alone includes the bomber group, flying giant Lancasters and Halifaxes, two fighter wings with Spitfires, and other squadrons equipped with Beaufighters, Mosquitos and Mustangs, as well as Coastal Command flying boat units.
A Canadian Spitfire fighter squadron is in action in Italy and there is a flying boat unit in Ceylon.
S/L Brad Walker, D.F.C., of London, Ont., was one of the pilots returning for a second tour of operations. He has seen action against the Germans in Europe and the Japanese in the Aleutians. Others included S/L H. W. McLeod, D.F.C. and Bar, Regina, and S/L W. H. Pentland, Calgary, who distinguished themselves in Britain and the Middle East, and S/L R. W. Norris of Saskatoon, who has flown in Britain, Newfoundland and Canada. Walker is among a number of fliers holding the United States Air Medal for deeds over the Atlantic.
Ontario arrivals included:
F/L S. H. R. Cotterill, 3 Claxton Blvd., Toronto; F/Os J. T. Marriott, C. E. Scarlett, Toronto; W. I. Williams, Tilbury; A. Hunter, Hamilton; A. J. Horrell, Windsor; D. G. Burgin, Windsor; J. H. Houser, 362 Herkimer St., Hamilton; P/Os S. Breggman, A. A. Cole, H. M. Dale, C. E. Whitaker, Toronto; L. H. Wilson, Stratford; V. A. Stortz, Kenilworth; J. G. N. LeJambe, Timmins; F/Ss M. E. Maloney, 674 Kingston, Rd., Toronto; W. E. Deforest, Merritton; J. H. E. Contant, Cornwall; Sgts. J. M. Turner, Peterborough;. D. A. Veri, Hagersville; K. L. Roth, Woodstock; W. G. Dunk, Fort William; J. E. Dale and M. G. Richardson, Ottawa.
London, 28 June 1944 - (CP) – W/C J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, an Englishman from Nottingham, with 32 enemy planes shot down in air combat, shared today with Group Capt. A. G. (Sailor) Malan, of South Africa, the status of top-ranking Allied air ace of this war.
Johnson, who commands a Canadian fighter wing operating from a base in Normandy, downed two German ME109's yesterday in air duels over the bridgehead front to bring his score up to that of Malan. The latter now is on ground duty.
Top-ranking Canadian airman is F/L George (Buzz) Beurling, of the R.C.A.F., now an instructor in Canada. Beurling has downed 31 planes.
One of the highest-scoring Canadians flying from the R.C.A.F. Normandy base which was established shortly alter D-day, is S/L Wally McLeod of Regina, whose total stands at 17. Johnson's Canadian wing achieved a mark of five enemy planes downed within 48 hours last week. Johnson, a quiet-looking pipe smoking man, is regarded by many airmen who have flown with him, as one of the most brilliant flyers now on operations.
London, July 3, 1944 — (CP Cable) — Canadian fighter pilots are the hottest things in the air of France these invasion days with a score of 58 "kills" chalked up since June 28, and airmen today attributed much of their current success to a modest, 28-year-old Englishman, W/C James E. (Johnny) Johnson, leading Allied ace in the European theatre.
Nearly 100 Per Cent
Of 21 enemy planes shot down over France Sunday — at a cost of three Allied aircraft — R.C.A.F. Spitfire pilots accounted for 19. They shot down 26 Germans June 28 and on Friday got 13 of the 17 enemy aircraft destroyed. It was on the Friday operations that Johnson, leader of a Canadian wing, got his 33rd enemy aircraft to top the long-standing record of 32 held by G/C A.G. (Sailor) Malan who is not now on active operations.
F/L J. D. Lindsay, of Arnprior, Ont., led the R.C.A.F. scoring yesterday, destroying three planes in one sortie when his squadron took on 20 enemy aircraft east of Caen. Other leaders, each with two "kills," were F/L Paul Johnson, of Bethel, Conn.; F/O R. J. Lake, Langstaff, Ont., and F/L L. Moore, Philadelphia. Paul Johnson and Moore also shared one "kill."
To W/C Johnson, back on active operations at his own request after a spell of ground duty is freely given much of the credit for the Canadians' fine showing since R.C.A.F. fighter airstrips were moved to Normandy. For Johnson, holder of the D.S.O. & Bar and D.F.C. & Bar, is known as a maker of aerial aces as well as being a top ace himself.
A civil engineer in Nottingham before the war, Johnson a year ago turned the Canadian Spitfire wing he then commanded into one of the “hottest” in Britain. Taken off active flying to aid in the planning of the invasion's aerial coverage, he recently returned to active operations and again was given a Canadian fighter wing to lead against the best the Germans could offer in the air.
Johnson's 31st and 32nd aerial victories were scored last Wednesday to equal the mark set by Malan when he was the leading R.A.F. pilot in the Battle of Britain and to top the 31 set by F/L George Beurling, of Verdun, Que., leading Canadian ace now in Canada. Johnson's record breaking came when he caught a German heading for the safety of the clouds, nailed him and followed him down until the foe crashed.
Of him, a pilot who flew with him wrote in the Sunday Express:
Greatest of All
"In the Battle of Britain, it was Sailor Malan. In the Battle of Malta it was Screwball Beurling. Now, in the Battle of Normandy, it's Johnny Johnson. Comparisons are always difficult, but there will be many among his contemporaries who will say W/C J. E. Johnson was the greatest of them all.
The unidentified writer said that when Malan was knocking down German planes into the orchards of Kent, his odds were great, but targets were numerous, for in those days of 1940 the Germans were flying over Britain in masses. He said the same holds true for Beurling over the embattled island of Malta, the Italian and German planes came over in hundreds in their vain effort to bomb Malta out of the war effort.
Then came Johnson's era, the Sunday Express pilot-writer said, an era of steady patrolling over wide areas of Continental Europe after targets that become harder and harder to find as the enemy spread his air defenses thinner. "The moral is quite clear," the writer said. "Johnson has really had fewer opportunities than Malan and Beurling, although he has been more constantly in battle. But his score now is 33.71
From a Canadian airfield in France today came Johnson's reaction to his 33rd kill, the one that broke Malan's record:
"Malan has been off operations for some time and there are several other outstanding men who went off during 1941 and 1942. If they were still flying, I am sure some of them would have phenomenal scores by now.
"I have been fortunate in another way too, in that for the last three years I have been flying as a leader, first in a squadron, then in a wing. Consequently, I have always had the first crack at any Huns and had many more opportunities than the tail-end charlies.
Johnson added that luck played a big part in his success and said, “Another thing is that I have a great deal of confidence, bred mostly from the fact that I have never been shot down." He continued almost as an after thought: "In fact, I have never been hit, and I think that helps a fellow's morale tremendously."
The new Spitfires the Canadians are flying, armed with twin Cannon and four Machine-guns in the wings, are hard to beat even by what pilots call the "long-nosed Focke-Wulf," termed the best fighter the Germans have today. Many seasoned pilots are among the Canadian pilots flying in Normandy, some of them with "ace" ratings. It takes ten "kills" (actually 5 -jf) to rate ace category in the R.A.F. and R.C.A.F., though there is nothing official about being rated an "ace."
One of the veterans of Johnson’s wing is S/L Wally McLeod, of Regina, highest-scoring Canadian pilot on active operations with 19 enemy planes destroyed, three if them since D-day. Johnson has shot down five planes since the invasion opened June 6, while next in line is W/C George Keefer, 22, Charlottetown, with four "kills" since D-day.
Among the Spitfire squadrons flying from Normandy bases are the noted City of Oshawa, Wolf and Red Indian, and a new one, the Grizzly Bear.
London, 12 July 1944 — (CP Cable) — Competition among all-Canadian fighter wings operating from Normandy in support of the Allied invasion reached such a pitch by today that pilots are plaguing operations officers to have one more show "laid on" so they can top the score of German planes downed by rival wings.
A summary of the operations of one Normandy-based fighter wing during four weeks of the invasion period shows that 170 Nazi aircraft have been shot out of the skies. This summary covers the period up to Monday, since when poor weather in the bridgehead area has reduced tactical flights to a minimum.
Since D-day W/C J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, who holds the D.S.O. and two bars, the D.F.C., and bar, and the American D.F.C., has skyrocketed to new fame as Britain's leading ace with a score of 35 German aircraft downed. Johnson, native of Nottingham, England, now heads a Canadian fighter wing.
Downs 35th Victim
He downed his 35th enemy victim June 30 to top the record of 33 set up by G/C A.G. (Sailor) Malan, from South Africa, who now is on ground duty. At the same time Johnson's wing went on to win a bet made with the late W/C Lloyd V. Chadburn, of Aurora, Ont., holder of the D.S.O. and bar and the D.F.C., six weeks before D-day.
The two wing-commanders wagered that their respective wings would outscore the other during the month after the invasion was launched. After Chadburn lost his life over France in the early days of the invasion, the wager was taken over by S/L Walter Conrad, D.F.C. of Richmond, Ont., of the Red Indian Squadron.
Until Johnson's wing scored seven victories in one operation July 5 Chadburn's wing, now led by W/C R.A. Buckham, D.F.C., of Vancouver, was only two behind. The latest available accounting showed Johnson's wing is in the lead 47 to 40.
Others in Race
Meanwhile however, another Canadian-led wing under W/C George Keefer, of Charlottetown, although not included in the wager, is just as interested in finishing at the top and in the last reckoning was tied with Johnson's wing with 47 enemy planes destroyed.
Furthermore, Keefer's pilots claimed 23 enemy aircraft damaged against 11 by Johnson's wing. F/L Charlie Trainor of Charlottetown, who until June 28 was scoreless, entered the ace class by being credited with 7½ victories in the subsequent seven days. This was half a point more than Johnson achieved during the first month of the invasion.
Other Canadian airmen who have achieved notable scores during that period are: F/L Doug Lindsay, Arnprior, Ont., four; S/L H.W. (Wally) McLeod, D.F.C. and bar, Regina, four; F/L W.T. (Bill) Klersy, Toronto, four; F/L Paul Johnson, Bethel, Conn., four.
These scores brought Lindsay's total kills to six, McLeod's to 19, Klersy's to five and Johnson's to five also. McLeod became Canada's leading operational pilot with his score of 19.
The Normandy-based Empire fighter plane group to which these Canadian wings are attached is commanded by Air Vice-Marshal Henry Broadhurst, of the R.A.F. Total of 12,000 sorties were flown by British and Canadian members of Air Vice-Marshal Broadhurst's group during the four weeks following D-day.
An all-Canadian Typhoon wing in the sector, commanded by W/C Paul Davoud, D.S.O., D.F.C., of Kingston, Ont., has achieved a high degree of precision in dive-bombing since assigned to this role in Normandy.
More than 8,000 rockets have been projected by R.A.F. Typhoons from close range at enemy targets within the battle area.
Ottawa, 5 Sept. 1944 — (CF) — Air Force Headquarters announced tonight the award of 1 Distinguished Service Order, 1 Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross, 6 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 3 Distinguished Flying Medals to members of the RCAF Overseas. The recipients:
S/L H. W. McLeod, DFC and Bar, Regina.,
BAR TO THE DFC
S/L I. F. Kennedy, DFC, Cumberland, Ont. (reported missing June 26),
F/L J. M. G. Plamandon, Ste. Michel, Que.
F/L L. R. Brochu, Ste Marie de Beauce, Que.
F/L R. K. Hayward, St, John's, Nfld.
F/L R. W. Orr of 206 Livingstone Ave, Toronto.
F/O W. T. Klersy of 14 Harcroft rd., Toronto.
F/O H. J. Powell, Frankford, Ont.
McLeod, who has distinguished himself as one of Canada's top-scoring fighter pilots with 17 enemy aircraft to his credit, was awarded the DSO for his continued display of the "highest standard of courage and resolution as an exceptional leader and relentless fighter."
Kennedy received the Bar to the DFC for his example of "Keenness and resolution." He has 11 enemy aircraft to his credit.
London, 7 Sept. 1944 — (CI' Cable) — S/L H. W. (Wally) McLeod, of Regina, has been awarded the D.S.O., it was announced today.
Today's gazetting formalized an award which had been known to the flyer's squadron for some weeks. McLeod previously won the D.F.C. and Bar.
He is a veteran of more than 250 sorties over England, Malta and France with 21 confirmed victories in his log book, and is Canada's leading fighter ace still on operations.
The 27-year-old flyer's complete score since his first operational flight in July 1941, is 21 destroyed, three probably destroyed and 12 damaged. He chalked up most of his triumphs over Malta between May and the end of October 1942. After a spell of instructing in Canada, he brought over from Canada last spring the Spitfire squadron he now leads and since then he has been able to bag only eight enemy aircraft.
German pilots now flying, McLeod finds, are inferior to those met earlier in the war, he told Canadian Press War Correspondent Louis V. Hunter in a recent interview. Hunter has since returned to Canada.
Ottawa, 19 Sept. 1944 - (CP) - The RCAF announced tonight the award of the Distinguished Service Order to S/L Henry Wallace McLeod, DFC and Bar, of Regina, Canada's top-scoring operational fighter pilot, who commands a squadron and has a score of 21 enemy aircraft destroyed.
The citation to his award referred to him as an "exceptional leader and a relentless fighter" who has displayed the "highest standard of courage and resolution in air operations."
McLeod took part with his squadron in the strafing of German vehicles in the Falaise Gap at the climax of the Battle for France and on one operation his unit smashed 35 transports.
On one operation in June, McLeod shot down two FW-190's in an engagement over Alencon. He used only 48 rounds for the twin killing then his squadron pounced on five German machines.
McLEOD, S/L Henry Wallace, DFC (J4912) - Distinguished Service Order - No.443 Squadron
Award effective 5 September 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 2373/44 dated 3 November 1944
This officer continues to display the highest standard of courage and resolution in air operations. He is an exceptional leader and a relentless fighter whose achievements are worthy of the highest praise. He has destroyed seventeen enemy aircraft.
NOTE: Public Record Office Air 2/9158 has recommendation raised about 20 June 1944, noting he had flown a total of 217 sorties (290 operational hours) and had flown 56 sorties (90 hours) since his previous award:
Squadron Leader McLeod was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar for outstanding fighting and leadership in Malta. Since the latter award in October 1942, he has destroyed a further seven and damaged four enemy aircraft, bringing his total to seventeen enemy aircraft destroyed.
Since joining the Wing he has proved himself to be a superb fighter pilot and an exceptional leader whose achievements are a brilliant example to all his pilots.
On 20 June 1944 this was minuted by G/C W.R. McBrian:
This squadron commander has been an example to all in aggressiveness and his ability to destroy the enemy. Since commencing this tour he has taken part in dive bombing and strafing in addition to normal fighter work. The success with which he has accomplished this is demonstrated by the fact that since his last award he has destroyed a further seven enemy aircraft. I strongly recommend the award of the Distinguished Service Order to this officer.
On 5 July 1944 an Air Vice-Marshal (name illegible) added:
Squadron Leader McLeod has given magnificent service as a fighter pilot and I strongly recommend him for the non-immediate award of the DSO.
This was annotated on 12 July 1944 by Air Marshal Coningham, “Strongly recommended.”
This was approved by Air Chief Marshal Leigh-Mallory on 24 July 1944 who simply wrote, “Approved - T.L.L.”
Further Note: When recommended for the DSO he was reported to have flown 900 hours (290 of them operational) and to have flown 217 sorties. Of these, 56 had been flown since the award if the Bar to the DFC. He was noted as having destroyed 17 enemy aircraft, probably destroyed three and damaged thirteen.
Johnny Johnson, in his book 'Wing Leader', describes his first impression of McLeod - "He was a cool-eyed, alert man of 28. The first time I met him he moved about the room restlessly. He had the reputation of being a deadly shot, very fast on the draw. A killer if ever there was one, I thought. Might be inclined to stick his neck out too far so I'll watch him.”
Johnson later tells of Wally's skill and unfortunate death - "We tried ranger operation low-level attacks in advance of bombing operations by American Marauders. On the first of them, we streaked over the peaceful Belgian countryside, almost brushing the trees. Then, over a thickly populated area, we eased toward Lou vain.
“Graycap from Red Two. One twin-engined aircraft at twelve o'clock. Same level”
The Dornier 217 was alone and our Spitfires were rapidly catching up to it. It was a piece of cake! McLeod drew level with my Spitfire. I had a nasty suspicion that he was going to draw ahead and commit an unforgivable breach of flying discipline, but he remained alongside. I said; "It's yours Wally. Let's see how you do it!"
He closed for the kill while the rest of us hung back to watch. It was all over in a flash. There was no tearing pursuit. No twisting and weaving as the bomber tried to escape. It was a classic example of fine shooting with a master of the craft in the Spitfire. Wally nailed him with the first burst The Dornier pulled up steeply, hung for a moment and then fell on its side and crashed. We swept on over the burning wreckage.
One day in May I took two squadrons, McLeod's and Danny Browne's, to sweep the Lille area before an attack by Marauders. Between Mons and Douai I spotted two sections of five or six Focke-Wulfs flying very low, but they soon disappeared into the ground haze. I sent down two sections of four Spitfires, one led by McLeod and the other by "The Wee Mac" McLachlan, to try and find the 190s. We soon heard The Wee Mac's section chattering as they carried out a head-on attack on six 190s, but there was no word from McLeod.
Johnny Johnson & Wally McLeod after a tour of Paris, 1944
RCAF's Top Ace
Pieces of McLeod's Wrecked Spit NH245
27 Sept 1941
15 April 1942
19 April 1944
21 / 3 / 12.25
Score from 'Aces High' 2nd Ed. by Shores & Williams. For more details, see said book
* Quoted from Johnny Johnson - which may be a little unfair considering what Wally wrote to his folks (seen somewhere above)
For logbook entries concerning his claims, check out the link "Good Article on McLeod" below
His medals & logbook are held by the Canadian War Museum (AN 19801205-001)
His medals are currently on display at the museum's new location in Ottawa
For additional details see 'The Tumbling Sky' by H.A. Halliday
Thanks go out to
Werner Oeltjebruns for the photos of the headstone and Spit pieces & Art Sager for the pic of Johnny & Wally
On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources; newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC); the Google News Archives; the London Gazette Archives and other sources both published and private.
All content on this site is probably the property of acesofww2.com unless otherwise noted.