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Henry Wallace "Wally" McLeod

RCAF   S/L
DSO,  DFC   &  Bar

Born 17 December 1915 in Regina
Son of James Archibald McLeod & Hannah Elizabeth McLeod
Educated in Estevan, 1928-1931, & in Regina thereafter
He obtained a teaching certificate in 1934
Taught in 1934-35 but resigned to attend Business School
He was a salesman (1936-37), accountant (1937) and
Motion picture projectionist (1937-1940
Formerly in 5th Saskatchewan Regiment, 1928-1931
& Regina Rifle Regiment, (1931-1934, Signalling Sergeant)
Enlisted in Regina, 2 September 1940
Trained at No.2 ITS (graduated 27 November 1940),
No.6 EFTS (graduated 16 January 1941) &
No.1 SFTS (graduated and commissioned 1 April 1941)
To Debert, N.S., 15 April 1941, Embarked for UK, 8 May '41
Arrived in UK, 9 May 1941 & To No.57 OTU, 9 June 1941
Subsequently in No.132 Squadron (21 July to 28 August 1941)
No.485 Squadron (28 August to 2 December 1941)
No.602 Squadron (2-23 December 1941)
No.411 Squadron (23 December 1941 to 5 May 1942
Posted to Malta, with No.603 Sqn (3 June '42 to 23 July '42)
No.1435 Squadron (23 July until 26 October 1942)
To UK, 27 October 1942 and to Canada, 20 December 1942
Instructed at 1 OTU, Bagotville, 12 March '43 to 12 Jan.’44
Given command of No.127 Squadron, 12 January 1944
To “Y” Depot, 13 January 1944
Embarked from Halifax, 20 Jan. '44, arrived UK, 31 Jan. '44
To No.443 Squadron, 13 February 1944
Killed in action on 27 September 1944 (Spitfire NH245)

 

Wally McLeod
"A killer if ever there was one" *

Halliday's notes continue: At 0005 hours on 3 April 1942, while with No.411 Squadron, he made a heavy landing on Spitfire BL980 and the starboard oleo leg collapsed. He admitted his own error, and the Commanding Officer of Station Digby was lenient, noting that McLeod had only two and one-half hours night flying with Spitfires. He was nevertheless paraded and warned about the hazards of coming in too low at night.

In applying for operational wings, 15 January 1944, he gave his operational time with various units as follows:

No.132 Squadron, four hours 25 minutes (1 July to 28 August 1941)
No.485 Squadron, 41 hours 30 minutes (28 August to 1 December 1941)
No.602 Squadron, 42 hours 30 minutes (1 December 1941 to 24 December 1941)
No.411 Squadron, 109 hors 50 minutes (24 December 1941 to 9 May 1942)
No.603 Squadron, 145 hours 30 minutes (9 May to 23 July 1942)
No.1435 Squadron, 208 hours 30 minutes (23 July to 23 September 1942)
He stated he had flown 171 sorties in all.

These figures do not agree with other documents. A medical report prepared 26 February 1943 stated:

This officer completed 208 operation al hours in the United Kingdom and Malta. At the conclusion of this time he was beginning to show signs of fatigue, was tired, irritable, and his flying was becoming a little seedy. He was posted back to England 25 October 1942 and after five weeks convalescent leave was attached to Air Staff for field liaison duties. In December 1942 he was repatriated with a recommendation for a period of sick leave and instructional duty before returning g to operational flying. Upon return to Canada he went on eight weeks leave during which time he suffered from an attack of Furunculosis. At present he feels perfectly fit and is keen to get back to work.

Assessments were telling. The Principal of Balfour Technical School wrote that he was “a young man of excellent intelligence, ability and personality” and added, “He possesses unusual powers of leadership and comes naturally into the first line of any assembly of young men.”
Training in Canada he was described as a good pupil but inclined to be talkative and over-confident.

On 24 May 1943, W/C E.M. Reyno (No.1 OTU) wrote of him:

An excellent fighter pilot. Recommended for temporary rank. Needed checking when he first arrived at this unit but has developed satisfactorily and is now doing a good job.

However, the Officer Commanding, Station Bagotville, G/C V.S. Parker, noted, “Paraded and warned on two occasions regarding his conduct.”

On 23 August 1943, S/L A.M. Cameron, a staff officer in Eastern Air Command, wrote:

The subject noted officer has been serving in this Command since March 1943, as an Instructor at No.1 OTU, Bagotville, but has not proven a success in this capacity.

Because of his seniority and experience, he was given charge of a Flight on posting, but his temperament not proving suitable for this position, he was relieved and placed as second in command of the Air Firing Squadron.

During this short period, his attitude was already having an adverse effect on the operation of the unit and this coupled with excessive drinking led to the first of a series of parades before his Commanding Officer, culminating in five appearances during the last two months. As a climax, while drinking, he was the instigator of a disorder in the mess necessitating severe disciplinary action against both instructors and trainees.

For these reasons, it is obvious that F/L McLeod’s presence in a training unit is not in the best interests of the service, although he was given every chance to mend his conduct, because of his operational record.

As this officer is medically fit, it is very strongly recommended that overseas posting action be taken for the above noted reasons and also because he wishes to return to active operations.

On 23 September 1943, W/C H.B. Wood (AFHQ) responded to the above as follows:

Your referenced letter on the above officer has been given careful consideration and the officer concerned has been interviewed at this Headquarters.

Reports received at this Headquarters indicate that his value as an instructor has been very high, and his deficiencies in deportment have been pointed out to him in the interview mentioned above.

It is considered highly desirable that this officer demonstrate his ability to set an example to the pupils in deportment and that his reposting overseas recommended by you should be deferred for a period of two months, until this has been demonstrated. At that time, upon a request from him for such a posting, and a satisfactory report from his Unit, steps will be taken to ensure his reporting to operations overseas, December 1st, 1943.

On 15 November 1943, he respectfully requested an overseas posting. On 1 December 1943, W/C Reyno again wrote a favourable report which concluded, “This officer would make an excellent fighter squadron commander.” G/C V.S. Parker concurred.

On 21 December 1943, S/L F.B. Foster, No.1 OTU, recommended him for a Commendation. By then he had flown 755 hours (58 in previous six months) including 98 hours as instructor (58 in past six months) and also had 208 operational hours (145 sorties). The submission stated:

This officer has been employed here for eight months as Officer Commanding Air Firing Flight. Through his ability and excellent methods of instruction, the standard of air-to-air firing results of all graduates has improved by at least 50 percent.

On 12 September 1944, W/C J.E. Johnson wrote of him:

Squadron Leader McLeod is an excellent leader and, in my opinion, is one of the outstanding fighter pilots produced in this war. Upon the completion of this tour, I recommend that his ability in this sphere be employed in some form of air-fighting training.

A report on his loss stated:

On 27th September, S/L McLeod was leading a section of six aircraft of this squadron on high patrol over front lines from Nijmegen to Venlo. Five other aircraft of the squadron with W/C Johnson leading the section made up the rest of the patrolling unit. At approximately 1300 hours nine Me.109s were sighted at 6,000 feet over the German town of Rees and the Wing Commander led the bounce from 2,000 feet above. Immediately on making contact with the enemy S/L McLeod was seen to single out one Me.109 and give chase. His No.2 man, J27378 F/O L. B. Foster was unable to get rid of his jet tank and began to fall behind rapidly. He reported this act to the CO and was told to keep trying. The attempt to jettison was unsuccessful and he last reports seeing S/L McLeod going into cloud hard after the enemy aircraft. Nothing further was heard over the R/T from the Squadron Leader nor was he seen again. He has therefore been reported “missing - particulars unknown”.

W/C J. E. Johnson, writing to McLeod’s father on 4 October, repeated much of the above, saying, “He was last seen going all out after an enemy fighter in his usual aggressive manner, the two aircraft disappearing into cloud.”

MREU officials located remains of the Spitfire in September 1949 and were able to identify McLeod by such items as an engraved cigarette lighter and his name on a part of the seat associated with parachute harness. German reports stated that this particular aircraft had been shot down while dogfighting German aircraft. His body was removed to Rheinberg British Military Cemetery.

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Borden Class Told Not to Fly Dangerously
WORK NOT FINISHED

Camp Borden, April 1, 1941 (Special) - Pilots in training from seven Provinces of Canada, four States of the American Union, Newfoundland and Australia, received their wings at a ceremony in the large drill hall, R.C.A.F. station, here tonight, after several months of training under the British Commonwealth Joint Air Training Plan.
The Provinces represented were Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Alberta, New Brunswick and Quebec, and the States were New York, Texas, North Dakota and Louisiana.
The young leading aircraftmen, who received their preliminary training chiefly at Prince Albert, Sask., and Portage la Prairie, Man., will rank henceforth as sergeant-pilots and will be dispersed to other stations.
Group Captain R. S. Grandy, officer commanding the station, extended a hearty welcome to the guests including about fifty relatives and close friends of the young graduates.
Squadron Leader G. V. Priestly, officer commanding No. 1 Squadron, Camp Borden, officiated at the presentation of the badges of proficiency, which will be worn as a token of attaining a distinct step forward in their training.
"You have done a good job; you have worked hard, but your work isn't by any means finished when you leave this station," Squadron Leader Priestly stated.
"You have the best instructors we can get; you have had the best equipment that can be bought. Those who go overseas have much harder work to do yet. I want you to remember that those who went before you have set up a wonderful reputation for the R.C.A.F. You have something to look forward to. I am sure that you will carry out the best traditions of the R.C.A.F.
"Before you finish your training, I want you to remember everything told you. We cannot afford here, or in England, to have dangerous flying. We must keep accidents to a minimum. Dangerous flying causes definite sabotage of the cause in which you are all fighting."
Group Captain Grandy thanked the staff and congratulated the class on catching up on the course despite bad weather during the winter.
The class included K. E. Hobson, Winnipeg, formerly a member of Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and John M. Milmine of Kipling, Sask., whose Scot ancestors fought with Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham in 1759, and whose paternal ancestors since that time have always been in the armed forces of the Empire as instructors.
The lone New Zealander in the wings class is B. J. Halse, a native of Wellington, who has resided in recent years in Sydney, Australia, where he enlisted with the Royal Australian Air Force.
Group Captain Grandy congratulated the class. "You are now in a position to start your real flying career," he said. "Please don't take Squadron Leader Priestly's words too lightly regarding dangerous flying. If you are in the right kind of aircraft to do aerobatics, by all means do, but practice them at the proper height, because it is not only dangerous to yourself but also to the people on the ground."
Among the leading aircraftmen who received their "wings," and qualified as sergeant pilots, were the following:
Royal Canadian Air Force—W. R. McRae, Port Arthur; J. R. Manser, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.; G. R. Cushon, Oxbow, Sask.; P. R. Carrillo, New York City; H. W. McLeod, Regina; A. W. Moffatt, Saskatoon; K. E. Hobson, Winnipeg; W. O. Wallace, Calgary; M. J. Whelan, Toronto; J. G. Woodill, Halifax; W. F. Baepre, Quinton, Sask.; W. E. Munn, Regina; H. Byers, Souris, Man.; S. G. Thompson, Moncton; A. E. Mokanyk, Winnipeg; R. G. Calvert, London, Ont.; J. F. Lambert, Winnipeg; J. C. R. Gourdeau, Quebec; G. B. Whitney, Fort Worth, Texas; L. A. Rowat, Winchester, Ont.; M. R. R. Vair, Toronto; D. F. Henderson, Saskatoon; W. H. Beveridge, Isabella, Man.
R. K. Newstub, Winnipeg; R. W. Denison, Winnipeg; H. R. Preece, Hudson Bay Junction, Sask.; H. M. Compton, Ottawa; W. H. McAdam, Regina; F. E. Monette, Regina; J. M. Milmine, Kipling, Sask.; J. D. Stevenson, Winnipeg; T. C. Callaghan, Sudbury, Ont.; J. Sommerville, New Orleans, La.; O. Levesque, Quebec, Que.; W. T. S. Grayson, Maner, Sask.; H. D. Button, Grand Forks, North Dakota; A. H. MacDonald, Fleming, Sask.
Royal Air Force — R. G. White, St. Johns, Newfoundland; D. B. Lacey, St. Johns, Newfoundland; P. Gruchy, Grand Falls, Newfoundland; R. Mercer, Grand Falls, Newfoundland.
Royal Australian Air Force — T. Cleary, Brisbane; R. E. Anderson, Sydney; B. J. Halse, Wellington, New Zealand; B. M. Geissmann, Brisbane.

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Canadian Flyers Chalk Up Triumphs

With the R.C.A.F. Somewhere in England, 15 May 1942 - (CP) - An R.C.A.F. Spitfire squadron emerged from a recent dogfight over the French coast with two "probables" and one damaged enemy aircraft added to its record.
Chalking up the scores for the Canadians in a brief but hectic tilt were Squadron-Ldr. R. B. Newton, an Englishman, and Pilot Officer Wallace McLeod, of Regina, one of the squadron's veteran pilots. The flyers escaped without a scratch but two of their Spitfires were damaged slightly.

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Fighter Pilots Awarded DFC for Valor in Battle

London, Oct. 12, 1942 (CP) — Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to two young Canadian fighter pilots, one of whom was described officially as fearless and the other praised for his inspiring leadership, was announced today by the Royal Air Force. They are F/L F. E. Jones, 26-year-old native of Cloverdale, B.C., whose home is in Sherbrooke, Que., and F/L H. W. McLeod, 27, of Regina.
Jones was described in the citation as a "vigorous fighter whose fearlessness in face of odds sets praiseworthy example." The citation said that during convoy escort duties last June, Jones' formation was attacked by a large enemy force and he destroyed a JU-88. On another occasion he led his section in an attack against twelve aircraft heavily escorted by fighters. Jones dived among the fighters and shot down an ME-109.
"Although he was attacked from all sides by many fighters," the citation said, "he skillfully frustrated them and despite damage sustained by his aircraft he succeeded in leading his section safely to his base."
McLeod was decorated for his part in an engagement with at least twenty ME-109's. The citation said that despite odds McLeod so skillfully led his section during combat that the enemy force was completely broken.
"This officer always has displayed the greatest determination to engage the enemy," the citation related. "He has destroyed at least five and damaged a number of other hostile aircraft. His leadership has been most inspiring."

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McLEOD, F/L Henry Wallace (J4912) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.1435 Flight
Award effective 3 October 1942 as per London Gazette dated 13 October 1942 &
AFRO 1690/42 dated 23 October 1942

In September 1942, this officer participated in an engagement against at least 20 Messerschmitt 109s. Despite the odd, Flight Lieutenant McLeod so skillfully led his section during the combat that the enemy force was completely broken up. This officer has always displayed greatest determination to engage the enemy and has destroyed at least five and damaged a number of other hostile aircraft. His leadership has been most inspiring.

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Three Canadians Receive Awards For Work at Malta

London, Oct. 26, 1942 — (CP Cable) — Three members of the R.C.A.F., piloting fighter planes in defense of Malta, were among airmen for whom immediate awards were announced today. They were F/L H. W. McLeod, of Regina, who received the bar to his Distinguished Flying Cross; F/L E. Glazebrook, of Outremont, Que., who received the D.F.C., and F/S I. R. MacLennan, who received the D.F.M.

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McLEOD, F/L Henry Wallace (J4912) - Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross - No.1435 Flight
Award effective 22 October 1942 as per London Gazette dated 3 November 1942 &
AFRO 1962/42 dated 4 December 1942

One day in October 1942, this officer took part in an attack on a formation of six Junkers 88 and shot two of them down. Although his aircraft was damaged in the combat, he led his section in an attack on another formation of nine enemy bombers. Afterwards, he skillfully flew his damaged aircraft to base. During a period of five days Flight Lieutenant McLeod destroyed five enemy aircraft in the defense of Malta. A gallant fighter, this officer has destroyed twelve and damaged many more enemy aircraft.

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BEURLING'S SQUAD IS HIGHEST SCORING
Has Had More Success Than Any Other R.A.F. Air Squadron
IS LARGELY CANADIAN
Verdun Ace Described as Canada's Sharpest-Eyed Airman; Makes Certain of His Targets

London, 29 October 1942 - (CP Cable) - A Canadian-led Spitfire squadron which George Beurling of Verdun, Que., Canada's sharpest-eyed airman, flies in Malta's defence, was described today as the highest-scoring fighter formation in the Royal Air Force.
The Squadron, commanded by S/L "Timber" Woods of Vancouver, was so largely manned during the past summer by Canadians that its few English pilots were nicknamed "the Free Englishmen."
F/L Frank Jones, D.F.C., of Vancouver, who fought over Malta during the summer months and was Beurling's Flight Commander, reported today to R.C.A.F. headquarters here on the squadron's top-notch performance.
Jones, whose personal air score is five destroyed and several probables and damaged, has just arrived in London from the Middle East. In hospital during the most recent attacks on Malta, he declared it was "annoying" to have to sit on the sidelines while his mates were scoring the successes for which many of them have recently been decorated.
Canadians he mentioned included F/L John McElroy of Kamloops, B.C.; P/O Jack Williams of Chilliwack. B.C.; F/L Henry McLeod of Regina, all holders of the Distinguished Flying Cross, and F/S Ian MacLennan of Gull Lake, Sask., a winner of the Distinguished Flying Medal.
"What a guy," said Jones of Beurling, who has become a hero throughout the Empire with a record of 29 Axis aircraft destroyed - 26 of them over Malta.
"One day we went out to escort a convoy which was coming to Malta. Between us, Beurling and I destroyed a Junkers-88 (bomber). By the time we had finished that combat we had been flying a long time and had not much petrol left.
"I told Beurling we had to return immediately to base. He complained bitterly that there was a large formation of Messerschmitt 109's two or three thousand feet below us. He wanted to go down and knock off a few.
"I refused and repeated it was imperative we return to base immediately. He argued a little and finally agreed to come home. It was getting dark anyway, he said.
"When we landed, I had five gallons of petrol in my tank, he had three. If we had stayed to beat up the 109's we would have spent the night in the drink."
Jones said Beurling's extraordinary skill as a pilot, combined with a perfect shooting eye, are enough to leave anybody open-mouthed.
"I have seen him on the tail of a 109 getting in very close," Jones said. "He's making sure he is dead on the target before he fires his guns. A second 109 comes in behind Beurling, fires and pulls away over his head.
"Beurling does not take his eyes off the aircraft in front of him until he is certain it’s a goner. Then like a flask of lightning he banks away, pulls up his nose, and gives the second 109 a burst of cannon shells right in the belly.
"Both Jerries go straight down into the sea. That's Beurling."
Explaining that Beurling, one of the air war's top scorers, belongs to the R.A.F. Jones said that McLeod, with the destruction of 13, is top R.C.A.F. man in the Spitfire Squadron at Malta. McLeod got much of his experience in 45 sweeps over northern France.
Jones said Malta's best night fighter is F/L Robert Carl Fumerton of Fort Coulogne, Que., whose score at the last count was 12, including one a night, four nights in a row.

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R.C.A.F. Aces Have Big Scores

Ottawa, 14 Nov. 1942 - (CP) - R.C.A.F. headquarters said last night that F/L Henry W. McLeod of Regina, a flying mate of P/O George Beurling, had shot down 12 enemy planes over Malta to October 26 and was unofficially credited with 15 probables (3 probs & 12 dams -jf). McLeod, headquarters said, is believed to have destroyed another enemy plans since October 26, while F/O J. F. McElroy, of Kamloops, B.C., is unofficially credited with shooting down five planes to October 19. McElroy was born at Port Arthur, Ont. He and McLeod are members of the R.C.A.F., and Beurling is serving with the R.A.F.

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Brilliant R.C.A.F. Pilot at Malta, H. W. McLeod in England for Rest

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.
McLeod, who won the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar, and two promotions during his service at Malta, was shot down twice during 18 hectic weeks. Five times his plane was shot up and damaged.
The air force statement told a stirring story of young McLeod's operational flying. At the height of his Malta career, he destroyed six enemy aircraft in five days. Once he shot down a German bomber when only one cannon in his battered Spitfire was still firing. Top man in the R.C.A.F. Spitfire ranks, McLeod still is less than half way to the mark set by 20-year-old George Beurling of Verdun, Que., R.A.F. ace now home in Canada after shooting down 29 enemy aircraft and winning the popular title "Hero of Malta."
On the debit side of McLeod's Malta ledger is 25 pounds of far-from-surplus weight. When he entered the force he weighed 169 pounds stripped. When he arrived back in England he tipped, the scales at 147 pounds, fully dressed.
"But it was worth it all, and a lot more," said the blue-eyed, sandy-haired Westerner, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Archibald McLeod.

Good Hunting at Malta
"Malta is the Spitfire pilot's happy hunting ground. If he has a reasonable amount of ability and enough operational experience, Malta is the place for him."
McLeod entered the air force as an aircraftman (second class) at Regina in September 1940, received his wings and commission, at Camp Borden in 1941, and in Britain served in four squadrons — an R.A.F. squadron, a New Zealand squadron, the City of Glasgow squadron and finally, an R.C.A.F. unit commanded by Squadron Leader Robert Newton, D.F.C., an Englishman.

 

This photo is from 12 July 1944 when Wally McLeod, Harry Dowding & Dean Dover took a tour of HMS Rodney to learn a bit about the RN. RN LtCmdr. A.J. Dent is pointing
With these units he built up a "log" of about 45 sweeps and acquired operational experience and background which stood him in good stead in the months that followed.
In May of this year; while a pilot officer, McLeod was chosen to go to Malta with other reinforcements for the island's hard-working Spitfire men.
On the second day after he landed as a member of the R.A.F.'s City of Edinburgh squadron, McLeod, flying as No. 2 to S/L Lord Douglas Hamilton, took part in an attack on a large formation of tri-motored Italian bombers. He and Hamilton combined to damage one of the big bombers, but in the meantime an Italian fighter — a Reggiane 2001 — fired on the Canadian, holed his fuselage and almost blew his tailplane off.

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.

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Spitfire Ace of the RCAF

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.

45 Sweeps
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.

Chivalry Shown
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.

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Meeting Churchill
Harry Broadhurst introduces Winston Churchill to some of the boys of 143 Wing. From the left -
Broadhurst, Churchill, John McElroy [face hidden], Wally McLeod, Wally Conrad & Mike Judd

40 SQUADRONS OF R.C.A.F. NOW ARE OVERSEAS

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.

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BRITISH AIR ACE TIES FOR LEAD

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.

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CANUCK FIGHTER PILOTS HOT, HAVE BEST INVASION RECORD
Much of Their Success Attributed to Foremost Allied Ace in Europe

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.

Johnson Modest
"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.

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PL-31094
Left to right - W/C MacBrien introduces Air Marshall Lloyd S. Breadner to
S/Ls Ed Wood (partly hidden), John McElroy, Bill Prest & Wally McLeod & F/Ls Andy MacKenzie & Doug Lindsay

ALL-CANUCK FIGHTER WINGS IN BATTLE FOR BEST SCORES
Competition So Intense Airmen Beg For Another Crack at Enemy

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.

Excellent Record
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.

Typhoons Prominent
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.

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HONORS GIVEN 11 RCAF MEN FOR GALLANTRY

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:

DSO
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),

DFC
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.

DFM
F/S J. W. Cumbers, Winnipeg,
F/S E. A. Snider, Haliburton, Ont.
Sgt. W. R. Williams, Winnipeg,

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.

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REGINA AIRMAN AWARDED D.S.O.

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.

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DSO AWARDED CANADIAN ACE

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.

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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.

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Wing Leader

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
Johnny Johnson & Wally McLeod after a tour of Paris, 1944
We'd been airborne a long time and I instructed the Spitfires to withdraw as we had a long night back to base against a stiff head wind. Perhaps 15 minutes later, over the French coast, I heard over the radio: "Take that, you bastard!"
Although the voice was faint, I was quite sure it was Wally. I called him on the radio but there was no response. Back at Tangmere, I was told that The Wee Mac had gone down in flames. Saddened by this news, I turned to the three members of McLeod's section. They, too, had intercepted a small formation of 190s but the enemy had escaped into the murk. The three aircraft had then re-formed, but were unable to locate their leader. They had also heard the muttered oath over the radio and were sure it was Wally.
I was certain that McLeod had singled out an opponent and chased him. By this time I knew enough about him to know that, once he had his teeth into a Hun, he would never let go until one of them had been vanquished. Many a good fighter pilot had been lost under similar circumstances, and i was most anxious not to lose an experienced squadron commander on the eve of the invasion, I walked into the dispersal hut and called the controller, "Any news of McLeod?"
They had. He had shot down a 190 and had just landed at another airfield. Blast the 190 i thought, he'll have plenty of those to shoot at before long. He'd been airborne almost three hours, and this was stretching a Spitfire IX's endurance to a fine point.
McLeod grinned sheepishly as he chambered out of his cockpit at Tangmere, I got it off my chest as soon as possible, and later lectured all the pilots on the necessity of keeping together and obeying instructions. I said that the days of the lone wolf went out with World War I and had never formed any part of our doctrine in this war over Britain and Europe. Screwball Beurling had demonstrated over Malta that an aggressive, single-handed fighter pilot could knock down a reasonable bag of enemy aircraft, given opportunities and a fair share of luck. No pilot though, however skillful, could consistently shoot down aircraft and guard his own tail at the same time. I was not decrying Beurling's exploits but simply stating that I could not countenance single-handed exploits. We fought as a team, and if the circumstances broke up the team and its members found themselves alone, then, to use a descriptive Canadian phrase,"we got the hell out of it."
After the invasion, we fought the Luftwaffe almost daily over Normandy. When weather permitted, they were active, and we ranged far to the south to cut them off before they could attack our ground troops. They generally operated in small formations, rarely more than a dozen aircraft. Consequently, we resorted to sweeps and scrambles in squadron strength. The wing seldom flew as a complete formation; 36 aircraft would be unwieldy and too conspicuous.
One day in June, I was at the spearhead of Wally's squadron. He was leading a section of two aircraft on my starboard side. We had just left Alencon on our port side when I saw a formation of Focke-Wulfs traveling in the same direction as we were. Like me, their leader had elected to fly just below the cloud base so that he could not be bounced from above. With throttles wide open we climbed through the cloud and swung high into the sky. Now we were on the same course as the enemy and I could see that five or six miles ahead the cloud ceased in a ragged line. If my timing was right and if the Huns continued to fly a straight course, we should reach the edge of the cloud at the same time.
Obligingly, the enemy leader held his course and 12 or 14 Focke-Wulfs swept into view. Telling Blue Leader to attack the aircraft on the port side, I took the six Spitfires of Red Section down in a fast dive on the starboard Focke-Wulfs. As the range closed I glanced back over my shoulder. The sky was empty but as I focused back on the enemy, I saw they had commenced a turn to starboard. Wally was on my starboard side some 200 yards out and the 190s were nearer to him than to me. He hit a 190 with his first few cannon shells. The aircraft fell onto its back and dived into the ground.
Surprise was gone, but the confused Germans turned and twisted in the area. There was another 190 ahead of me, an easy shot. One glance back to make sure no one was on my tail. Eyes back on the 190. Thumb on the firing button. But already cannon shells were tearing into his engine cowling and wing root. Mortally damaged, the 190 went down. But I didn't fire a shot! The 190 was attacked from below. A Spitfire, the killer, zoomed into the air a hundred yards ahead of me. The rest of the enemy aircraft had either fled or were burning in the fields. I gave the order to re-form and, feeling frustrated, set course for home. I had spotted the bandits and brought them to account.
Several had been destroyed but I, the leader, had not fired a shot.
Back at St. Croix, our Normandy base, I walked over to Wally's Spitfire. "That 190 of yours was a piece of good shooting, Wally. I suppose you clobbered the second?"
"Yes, I got a couple of them. Did you see the second one, Chief?" This last with a disarming grin.
"I not only saw it, Wally. I was about to shoot the ------- down."
"Hard luck, sir! I saw a Spitfire behind the 190, but I thought I'd better make sure of it. Of course, I didn't know it was you!"
"Anyhow, the great thing is for someone to hack them down. I've never seen better shooting. How many rounds did you fire?"
"I don't know yet. Let's see what the armorers say."
We learned that Wally had fired only 13 rounds from each of his two cannons (26 rounds in total to shoot down 2 planes? NICE! -jf). It was a remarkable display of flying and shooting skill and, as far as I know, the performance was never equaled.
When the Allies surged out of France, we stayed behind for a time. We were soon impatient to get back into action. McLeod was desperate and badgered me for news. He found it hard to relax and made no secret of the fact that he was out to increase his score, which stood at 21. Officially he was recognized as the top-scoring fighter pilot of the RCAF. Although Screwball Beurling had destroyed 31 enemy aircraft, most of his victories were attained while with the RAF. Wally intended to finally settle the question by passing Beurling's total.
Several times I found McLeod analyzing his combat films and trying to decide whether he could have dispatched his opponents with even fewer rounds of ammunition. He had the cannons of his Spitfire stripped and checked; he worked on his aircraft until it shone like a jewel in the sunlight, and his sole topic of conversation was air fighting.
We finally got back to the front. One day in September I was on patrol with Wally's squadron between Arnhem and Nijmegen. Holland. There was a heavy cloud base at 12,000 feet, but below this visibility was excellent. Suddenly I felt a tingle of excitement as radio silence was broken: "Kenway to Graycap. Bandits active in the Emmerich area. Steer one-three-zero."
"Graycap to Kenway. Roger. How many?"
"Not more than a dozen."
By this time I had turned the Spitfires southeast, and we flew over the Rhine. We held our altitude at the very base of the
cloud. The Rhine was swollen by heavy rains and the storm-lashed fields of Germany looked dark and sinister. I was trying to shake off this unpleasant mood when Don Walz broke my reverie.
"Graycap from Red Three. Nine 109s 4000 feet below."
"Okay. I have them. Wally, take the starboard gaggle. I'll take the port."
The enemy were flying on the same course as ourselves in two small line-abreast sections, one of five aircraft, the other of four. We were 12 Spitfires and had all the essentials of tactical success - speed, height and surprise. We tore down into a line-astern attack, and just before we closed to firing range. I saw the leader of the enemy starboard section pull his Messerschmitt into a vertical climb. I knew this maneuver. The enemy pilot would half-roll at the top of his loop, having gained vital altitude. He would then aileron-turn his Messerschmitt and come down in a fast dive searching for a Spitfire. My own target was very close, but before I blasted him with my cannons I found time to warn McLeod: "Watch that brute, Wally. He's coming in!"
I hit my opponent with a heavy burst and he started to burn immediately. When the dogfight was over, Wally didn't answer my repeated calls on the radio.
On the ground lay the burning wrecks of aircraft, so disintegrated that I could not identify them as either friend or foe. When I got back, Wally had not returned. The pilot who had flown nearest to him told me that he had last seen his leader streaking after the looping Messerschmitt. The wingman had attempted to follow but had blacked out in the tight pull-out. When he recovered, he could find neither McLeod nor the Messerschmitt.
"What do you think his chances are, sir?" one of the Canadians asked.
I tried to sound cheerful, "Knowing your CO, I feel certain that he wouldn't let go of the 109 until the issue had been decided one way or the other. There was no other aircraft in the area and they must have fought it out, probably above the cloud. To start with, he was at a bad disadvantage; the 109 was already several thousand feet higher."
That night, to relieve their gloom, I took Wally's young pilots into Louvain for a night on the town. Their high spirits and vitality soon responded to our pleasant surroundings, but my own thoughts focused on the morning's fight. I feared that Wally was dead, and I was right.
His body was found in the wreckage of his Spitfire, near the scene of our fight." (-J. E. Johnson)

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headsotne
McLeod's headstone

RCAF's Top Ace
Reported Missing

 

27 September 1944 - The RCAF’s top-scoring fighter ace of the Second World War, Squadron Leader Henry Wallace "Wally" McLeod, was reported missing in action after a dogfight over Germany it was reported today.

(McLeod is buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery, grave reference 8 E 25)

 
Pieces of Spit
Pieces of McLeod's Wrecked Spit NH245

_________________________________________________

Victories Include :

27 Sept 1941

15 April 1942

  1 May 1942
  6 June 1942
23 June 1942

  5 July 1942
  9 July 1942
13 July 1942
17 July 1942
24 July 1942
  8 Aug 1942
10 Aug 1942
13 Aug 1942

29 Aug 1942
26 Sept 1942
11 Oct 1942

12 Oct 1942
13 Oct 1942
14 Oct 1942

16 Oct 1942

22 Oct 1942

19 April 1944
  5 May 1944
14 June 1944
16 June 1944
23 June 1944
20 July 1944
30 July 1944

one Me109

one Me109
one FW190
one FW190
1/4 Z1007
one MC202
one MC202
one Me109
one Ju88
one MC202
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
one Ju88
one Me109
one Me109
two Ju88s
two Me109s
one Me109
one MC202
one Ju88
one Ju88
one Me109
one Me109
one MC202

one Do217
one FW190
one Do217
one Me109
two FW190s
one FW190
one Me109

damaged

damaged &
damaged
probable
damaged
destroyed &
damaged
damaged
probable
damaged
destroyed
probable
destroyed
destroyed
damaged &
damaged
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed &
damaged
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed &
damaged
destroyed &
damaged
destroyed

destroyed
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed
destroyed

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

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Back to

--- Canadian Aces ---

--- Honorable Mentions ---

Related Sites :

FFYL

Good Article on McLeod

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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.