Wally McLeod -- fighter ace

"...the Spitfire

pilot's happy hunting ground..."

A historical essay on S/L Henry Wallace "Wally" McLeod, RCAF

Prepared by Will Chabun

(Will Chabun is a member of the Regina chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society.)

Faster and faster, down a road cut into a hill in southeast Saskatchewan's Moose Mountain area rolled a battered 1937 Ford sedan -- backward.

Down it went, powerless, and moving so fast that a passenger worried that it, and he, would end up submerged in a nearby lake -- until the driver deftly took control, braked and guided it into a cottage driveway -- backwards.

It was summer, in the late 1930s and the man at the wheel was a colorful former Saskatchewan schoolteacher named Henry Wallace "Wally" McLeod. A cool, calculating man, he was only five years away from becoming a national hero, the top-scoring fighter ace in the wartime Royal Canadian Air Force and one of the most successful fighter pilots in all the Commonwealth air forces.

"Hold it!" you say. "Wasn't 'Screwball' Beurling the RCAF's top wartime ace?"

A little-known fact is that the RCAF did not accept the mercurial Beurling when he tried to enlist in it early in the war, so he crossed the Atlantic Ocean (twice; it seems he forgot his passport the first time) and joined the RAF.

Beurling didn't transfer to the RCAF until quite late in the war; McLeod spent the entire war as a member of the RCAF, although he was attached to several RAF units -- a common event during the Second World War. Indeed, more Canadians served in RAF units than in RCAF ones.

Henry Wallace McLeod was born in Regina on December 17, 1917 to James Archibald and Hannah Elizabeth McLeod (nee Morris), of Regina, Saskatchewan. Early on, he became familiar with military life, serving with two militia (non-permanent army) units from 1928-1934: the 5th Saskatchewan Regiment and Regina Rifle Regiment.

Prior to enlisting in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940, Wally attended the Regina Normal School, training to be a school teacher. He taught -- though precisely where and how long is unclear. One acquaintance said McLeod told him he'd taught for a few weeks in rural southwest Saskatchewan before realizing he didn't like it, and quitting, much to the consternation of his father, a provincial government school "inspector". Another source claims he taught for one year each in the Lumsden and Oxbow areas of southern Saskatchewan.

Jobs were mighty scarce during the last years of the Great Depression, so he created his own job: driving from small town to small Prairie town and showing movies at night to townspeople who could afford the admission. He travelled in a balky car that often failed to navigate hills in its forward gears -- though not in reverse; hence the scene described above.

McLeod joined the RCAF on Sept. 2, 1940, passing through RCAF's manning depot at Brandon, reportedly pulling guard duty at the RCAF's brand new 4 Service Flying Training at Saskatoon and then attending No. 2 Initial Training School at Regina, graduating on Nov. 27, 1940. From there, he went No.6 Elementary Flying Training School at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and trained on the de Havilland Tiger Moth biplane. His logbook indicates he took his first flight on Nov. 30, with a Sgt. Gardner in Tiger Moth 4035 at No. 6 EFTS.

His logbook shows him soloing in December. He graduated on the 16th of January 1941 and was posted to No. 1 Service Flying Training School at RCAF Station Camp Borden, Ontario. There, he learned to fly the North American Harvard and the Yale at 1 Service Flying Training School. His tutelage included cross-country, night, and formation flying. He received his "wings" with a total of 167 hours flying behind him.

Assessed as an"average" single-engined pilot, he was commissioned as a pilot officer on April 1, 1941.

Mcleod was one of four RCAF pilots on the SS Nicoya, a 5,000-ton "banana boat" (refrigerated freighter) that left Halifax on May 10, 1941. One of the other pilots, Bill McRae, recalled years later that the passage was harrowing: the Nicoya was assigned to convoy HX-126, which plowed through wreckage from ships sunk in an earlier convoy, then itself came under sustained attack by U-Boats 10 days out. The ship directly in front of the Nicoya was hit and sank "almost immediately". In less than an hour, three more ships were sunk. By May 21, no fewer than eight submarine were stalking what remained of the convoy. In all, nine ships were lost. Shortly thereafter, the convoy encountered a flotilla of British naval vessels including the new battleship and the aircraft carrier Victorious. They had been hunting the German battleship Bismarck, which had been but 200 miles away from the convoy at one point. The Nicola’s entry into Liverpool 21 days after leaving Halifax coincided with a heavy night air raid on the port. McRae wrote about the for Canadians going ashore: three of them meek and bedraggled. "Only McLeod, with his piercing eyes and determined, almost fierce, expression, looked much like a fighter pilot, and a deadly one he would turn out to be. Little did I realize at that moment that of the four, I would be the only one to survive."

___

In Britain, McLeod started to fly the Miles Master trainer at the RAF's No. 57 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at Hawarden on June 14, 1941 and, from June 19, the fabled Spitfire. Training, his logbook shows, included handling, a height test, formation flying, stern attacks, instrument flying, direction finder homing, air-to-ground aircraft firing, air combat circuits, aerobatics, cross-country flying and even acting as a target for others' gun-camera attacks. He crash-landed a Spitfire on July 7 (his logbook shows a notation of "gross carelessness") but he was permitted to keep flying and graduated on July 20, 1941 with another "average" rating and this additional notation: "Has he shown aptitude as a pilot-navigator? No" above the chief flying instructor's signature.

On July 30, 1941, McLeod went on ops with 132 'City of Bombay' (F) Squadron, then at RAF Station Skaebrae, Orkneys, flying Spitfire Mark Is. He did more training: formations, aerobatics, air combat and navigation. "Above the average as a fighter pilot," commented a squadron leader (whose signature is indecipherable in McLeod's logbook) at the end of August. McLeod was posted to 485 (New Zealand) Squadron at RAF Redhill, Surrey, beginning ops on Aug. 29 in a Spitfire Vb. His first operation over occupied Europe came on Sept. 2, 1941, when he helped escort three Blenheims bombing shipping near Ostend.

There were sweeps and "circuses" over the channel, but also more training in September: weaving, aerobatics, formation and dusk landings. Sept. 20 saw him "cut off by four 109s" during a circus over Abbeville, but he escaped to land, out of gas, at Friston.

For Nov. 8, his logbook entry says: "Controls shot away, over Dunkirk, when attacked by 190s."

An assessment written on Dec. 2, 1941 by S/L Edward Wells, DFC and bar, the O/C of 485 Squadron, read: "A sound and intelligent pilot."

---

 Four days later, McLeod began flying with 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron at RAF Kenley before being posted a few weeks later to an RCAF squadron, No. 411, at Hornchurch. Sweeps, bomber escorts, anti-flak strafings, convoy patrols, "rodeos", army co-operation work and more training filled the logbook of McLeod, who was by now leading 411's "B" flight, flying Spitfire Vbs .

In early April, his logbook said: "Posted 'Newman' movement to Malta" with "Posting cancelled" on the next line. This was a foreshadowing of things to come: Operation "Newman" was a joint RAF/Royal Navy plan to send reinforcements of fighter aircraft to the embattled British-held island of Malta, smack in the middle of the Mediterranean and thus astride Italian and German shipping routes to their forces fighting British and Commonwealth troops in North Africa.

Reposted immediately to 411, McLeod flew several times a day, claiming two enemy aircraft damaged -- a 190 and a 109F -- on an April 15, 1942 escort of RAF Hurribombers to Desvres and even logged time in an RAF Wellington around Digby. He claimed a FW-190 probable on a May 1 "rodeo" over Cap Gris Nez.

---

If the eyes of the world had been on the skies over southern England during the summer of 1940, they were elsewhere in 1942. Fighting was raging on the Eastern Front, in the Pacific, and, significantly, in the air and waters around Malta. McLeod's Malta posting to a Malta reinforcement draft reappeared in early May 1942, and his logbook resumes with 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron, RAF, flying off HMS Eagle to the embattled island on June 3, 1942. He claimed his first victory during a scramble only five days later, with a Macchi 202 destroyed and one damaged on June 23.

The next few months were full of scrambles and convoy patrols. He claimed a Ju-88 probable on July 6 and a Macchi 202 on the 13th.

On the 17th, McLeod, flying a Spitfire Vb, downed an Me109F.

The 1991 book Malta: The Spitfire Year 1942 quotes from McLeod's subsequent report: "The pilot was thrown clear and his 'chute opened. After he had hit the water, I circled him and he waved to me, apparently quite cheerfully. So I dropped my dinghy to him to show I had no hard feelings either. He did not make any attempt to climb into the rubber dinghy and the reason became apparent when one of our rescue launches came out to pick him up. He had a cannon shell through his chest."

Transferred to 1435 Squadron, which also flew Spitfire Vs, he flew his first "op" on July 24. On July 29, McLeod took part in one of the oddest dramas of the war, flying cover in Spitfire EP260 over an Italian Cant Z506B floatplane that had been hijacked that day by a downed RAF Beaufort crew that was being ferried in it from Prevesa, Greece, to Taranto, Italy. The RAF airmen, led by a South African captain, overpowered their armed Italian captors and flew the twin-engined Cant to the vicinity of Malta, whereupon they landed on the sea just as four Spitfires were beginning an attack.

When an RAF rescue launch arrived, "all nine occupants sitting on the wing, enjoying brandy and wine produced by the Italians, which they had been taking on leave with them!" reported Malta: the Spitfire Year.

McLeod destroyed another 109F on Aug 8, but his own wingman was posted missing, as was another wingman on Aug. 13.

On the 27th, he claimed a coastal steamer as damaged, and bagged 109s on Aug. 28 and Sept. 26.

By now an acting flight lieutenant, McLeod received a Distinguished Flying Cross for an action in September.

The citation said: "While leading four aircraft, he intercepted 20 Me-109s at 29,000 feet. He led an immediate attack and although no claims were made, the enemy sweep was completely broken up, without damage to any of our aircraft. His eagerness to attack the enemy on all occasions, and his fine leadership have been an inspiration and help to other pilots. He is a very courageous fighter."

Mid-October saw particularly heavy fighting in the skies over the little Mediterranean island. Between Oct. 11 and 16th, McLeod claimed three Ju-88s, two Me 109s, one Macchi 202, while losing two wingmen and himself crash-landing in the dark with a dead propellor.

He claimed another Macchi on Oct. 22, 1942 and received word the same day of a bar to his DFC for a battle on Oct. 11.

"This officer took part in an attack on a formation of six Junkers 88s and shot two of them down," said the citation. "Although his aircraft was damaged in the combat, he led his section in an attack on another formation of nine enemy bombers. Afterward, he skillfully flew his damaged aircraft to base.

During a period of five days Flight Lieutenant McLeod destroyed five enemy aircraft in the defence of Malta. A gallant fighter, this officer has destroyed twelve and damaged many more enemy aircraft."

In four months in Malta, he had lost 25 lbs. and began having nightmares about crashing. He was irritable and his flying was sloppy. Clearly, he needed a rest. "It was worth it all and a lot more," Halliday's book quotes him as saying. "Malta is what I would call 'the Spitfire pilot's happy hunting ground'."

---

In late October 1942, McLeod left Malta on an RAF Liberator for Gibraltar, where he transferred to a Dakota for the flight to England. According to his logbook, he had logged 115 hours of operational time, 12 victories between mid May and late October, and he'd traveled to the Med and back.

His record of service for the next five weeks shows him at "Convalescent, 'The Carnons', Herford", presumably a reference to a rest facility for stressed personnel.

Next came an assignment to RCAF Headquarters, Lincoln Inn Field, London, from Dec. 3-24, 1942. What he did for the next 10 weeks is unclear -- he might have returned home to Regina on leave, as some anecdotal reports indicate -- but by March 13 he joined the RCAF's new No. 1 (Fighter) OTU, at Bagotville, Quebec, as an instructor, flying among other things the Bolingbroke, the Harvard and, most frequently, the Hurricane fighter.

The chapter on McLeod in Hugh Halliday's book The Tumbling Sky says that this period saw the Malta veteran drinking so heavily and frequently that only his outstanding combat record saved him from serious disciplinary action. "An ultimatum was laid down: buck up or forget about another overseas tour," Halliday wrote. "Admitting that by temperament he was more suited to operational flying than to instructing, he nevertheless pulled himself together for a two-month probationary period. In November 1943, having met the terms of the ultimatum, he requested an overseas posting.

This was granted and, on Dec. 23, 1943, McLeod took command of No.127 (F) Squadron from Squadron Leader P.A. Gilbertson. The squadron flew Canadian-built Hawker Hurricane Mk.XIIs on East Coast air defence duties from RCAF Station Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

127 (Fighter) Squadron was a home defence unit that had been formed under the RCAF's Home War Establishment at Dartmouth, N.S. in 1942 before being deployed to Gander. It returned to Dartmouth in mid-1943 and was one of six RCAF home defence squadrons re-numbered and sent to Britain in January and February, 1944. At the air force's Lachine, Que., embarkation depot, McLeod "met the pilots for the first time, and we went overseas together," recalled W. Ivor Williams, one of the squadron's pilots. "He soon dropped pilots who had too few Hurricane hours and replaced them with new flight commanders and some mid-tour Canadians from other units." McLeod had the ususual distinction of being 127 Squadron's last commanding officer as the unit was renamed as No. 443 Squadron RCAF on Feb. 8, 1944 in order to avoid confusion with the RAF's 127 Squadron.

The Spitfire Mk.IXb-equipped 144 (Fighter) Wing (formed at RAF Digby, Lincolnshire on Feb. 1, 1944) was comprised of No. 441 'Silver Fox' (F) Squadron, No.442 'Caribou' (F) Squadron and No.443 'Hornet' (F) Squadron. March and early April 1944 were filled with training. On April 11, McLeod (in an aircraft bearing the "9G" code of 443's sister squadron, 441) escorted USAAF Marauders on a raid in the Brussels area on April 11.

 The squadron's first offensive mission -- 12 Spits escorting Mitchells and Bostons bombing Dieppe -- came on April 13. McLeod claimed the squadron's first victory -- and his own 14th "kill" -- six days later, when, as the wing was supporting 9th Air Force B-26 Marauders bombing railyards near Brussels, he bagged a low-flying Do217 in the Venlo-Gilze-Rijen area of the Netherlands.

Wing Commander Johnnie Johnson, who took command of the R.C.A.F.'s No.144 (Fighter) Wing on March 8, 1944, wrote about McLeod in his famous book Wing Leader:

"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 there ever was one, I thought. Might be inclined to stick his neck out too far, I'll watch him."

The squadron's first offensive mission -- 12 Spits escorting Mitchells and Bostons bombing Dieppe -- came on April 13. McLeod claimed the squadron's first victory -- and his own 14th "kill" -- six days later, when, as the wing was supporting 9th Air Force B-26 Marauders bombing railyards near Brussels, he bagged a low-flying Do217 in the Venlo-Gilze-Rijen area of the Netherlands.

Wing Commander Johnnie Johnson, who took command of the R.C.A.F.'s No.144 (Fighter) Wing on March 8, 1944, wrote about McLeod in his famous book Wing Leader:

"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 there ever was one, I thought. Might be inclined to stick his neck out too far, I'll watch him."

McLeod's logbook gives details of several more kills:

-an FW-190 on May 5;

-a Do217 on June 14;

-2 FW-190s on June 23;

-an FW-190 on July 19 ("Pilot bailed out before I could open fire!" he wrote in his logbook), and;

-an Me109G on July 30;

That works out to a total 20 kills, split between Malta and Britain. Other sources, though, give him a total of 21, suggesting it is possible one of his "probables" was confirmed as having been destroyed.

With the Normandy invasion, the squadron flew nonstop and went over the Channel to France in July 1944. From there, it leapfrogged from airfield to airfield as the British and American armies rolled slowly across France, then moved into Belgium. 144 Wing was disbanded on July 13, 1944, its three squadrons absorbed into 127 Wing. "He is an excellent leader and, in my opinion, is one of the outstanding fighter pilots produced in the war," wrote W/C Johnson, the RAF's top fighter pilot of the Second World War.

In recognition, McLeod was awarded a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) on Sept. 5. "This officer continues to display the highest standard of courage and resolution in air operations," RCAF Routine Orders said. "He is an exceptional leader and a relentless fighter whose achievements are worthy of the highest praise..."

---

McLeod's luck finally ran out on September 27, 1944. On a sweep over the Rees area of western Germany, his dozen Spitfires ran into nine or ten German Me 109 fighters flying in two groups. There was heavy cloud at 12,000 feet, but good visibility below that. The two rival formations broke up into individual dogfights, McLeod flying in Spitfire IX NH425. Johnson wrote that the leader of the starboard German formation pulled his aircraft into a vertical climb, a standard maneuver that would see the aircraft half-roll at the top of a loop, gaining altitude, then aileron-turning his aircraft down in a fast dive in order to position himself for an attack.

Johnson, locked in his own duel, warned McLeod over the radio, "Watch that brute, Wally, he's coming in!" That was apparently the last time an Allied airman saw McLeod.

Nine, ten, eleven 443 Squadron Spitfires were counted back at the base. But where was McLeod?

There were no reports of him at other airfields and his name eventually went on the "missing" board. An article reporting that he was missing and presumed dead appeared soon after in his hometown paper. Not until after the war was it learned that he had been killed in the crash of his Spitfire IX, which was found near Wesel. He was buried in the cemetery at Rheinberg, Germany, 11 miles northwest of Duisberg.

___

Acknowledgment of McLeod's prowess came surprisingly slowly and grudgingly. Tom Coughlin's 1969 book The Dangerous Sky did not mention him -- not even once. Nor did Edmund Cosgrove's 1965 book Canada's Fighting Pilots. Why this omission?

It was not until the mid-1980s that a small memorial was erected in the Royal United Services Institute in Regina at the suggestion of Ivor Williams, who flew with McLeod in 1944 in 443 Squadron.

A street in northeast Regina industrial section is jointly named for two men named McLeod: pilot Wally and broadcaster Jim (no relation).

In addition, a profile sculpture of McLeod was presented to the RCAF Officers Mess in Ottawa in the 1990s. Sculptor Phil Vickers was, appropriately, a former member of both 127 and 443 Squadrons.

A MODEL-BUILDER'S PERSPECTIVE

:

Asked about the markings of McLeod's 443 Squadron Spitfires, W. Ivor Williams, who flew with McLeod in 127 and 443 Squadrons, wrote that, "he was not one to mark up his aircraft or allow us to do the same with ours, with swastikas or leggy drawings, so his carried the usual "2I" [443 Squadron's code letters] and individual letter ("I think 'K' ... I say 'I think' because I flew a 'K', pranged it, picked up another from a 'new plane dealer' at Redhill, had it remarked as 'K', but McLeod 'liberated' it from me because he had the right to the newest a/c on the line, and I subsequently flew a 'C'. There were no special markings and I think the spinner was a light blue or grey, similar to that of the underside. I don't recall a band at the tail and, of course, we all had the black-and-white 'invasion' markings from June 5 [1944] onwards."

Williams' recollections on the letters carried by the aircraft flown by McLeod are not supported by McLeod's logbook, which suggests he flew aircraft "E" almost continually between mid-April 1944 and his death in late September.

As of 1990, there was still one Spitfire IX in the wartime markings of 443 Squadron. This was aircraft ML417, which was then flying with the privately owned The Fighter Collection at Duxford, north of London. A 1990 monograph on restored Spitfires published by Warbirds Worldwide Ltd., showed several color pictures of this aircraft in the grey/green/invasion stripes markings described by Ivor Williams, but also with a small "hornet" badge on the port engine cowling, plus a "C1" roundel on the fuselage, "C"-type fin flash, "B"-type roundels on the upper wing surfaces and, significantly, a Sky Type 'S' spinner with a 12-18" tip in dark blue.

The 1990 monograph says this aircraft "had just been repainted complete with the insignia which was copied from a genuine photograph of ML417 taken during the war" and adds that after serving with 443 and several other RCAF Squadrons during the Second World War, ML417 was used by the Indian Air Force as a two-seat trainer before being sold to an American owner and ultimately to British aviation buff Stephen Grey.

Unfortunately, Grey was recently killed in the crash of a Spitfire; can any member tell us if this was the aircraft in which he died, or if ML417 still exists?

 

FOOTNOTES

 

According to records kept in the DND historical archives in Ottawa, McLeod served in the following squadrons:

132 (RAF),

485 (RNZAF),

602 (RAF),

411 (RCAF),

603 (RAF in Malta),

1435 (RAF)

127(RCAF)

and finally, 443 (RCAF).

He was promoted to the following ranks:

AC2 (Sept. 2, 1940),

LAC (Nov. 28, 1940);

Pilot Officer, (April 1, 1941),

Temporary Flying Officer (April 1, 1942);

Temporary Flight Lieutenant (28 Aug. 1942),

Acting Flight Lieutenant (Oct. 23,1942),

Acting Squadron Leader (Jan. 12, 1944)

His medals were awarded on the following dates:

Distinguished Flying Cross (Sep. 29, 1942),

Bar to DFC (Oct.2, 1942);

Distinguished Service Order (Sept. 5, 1944)

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The basic information on McLeod's career in Britain and Malta comes from a biography in his file at the DND Directorate of History, Ottawa.

The differing opinions on McLeod's teaching career come from Ivor Williams. The speeding auto story came from a Carlyle-area man interviewed by the author.

Bill McRae's account of the harrowing 1941 voyage overseas appeared as "An Introduction To War" in The Observair, newsletter of the Ottawa chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, October 2002.

Observations on the markings of McLeod's aircraft are in a letter from Williams to the author, dated April 8, 1991.

Many thanks to Capt. Chris Charland, public affairs officer at 22 Wing, North Bay, for his advice and help.

Addendum:

Henry Wallace "Wally"

McLeod and his victories:

(Source: McLeod's logbook, which was returned to his family in Regina after his death in September, 1944. This logbook was later forwarded by squadron-mate Ivor Williams to the Canadian War Museum.)

1942

  with 411 Squadron, RCAF, at Digby:  April 15 -- "Got two damaged -- FW190 and 109F" while escorting bombers to Desvres.

May 1 -- "FW190 damaged -- stepped up to probable" on

"rodeo"over Cape Griz Nez.

(with 603 Squadron, Takali, Malta)

 June 6 -- "tailplane and wing shot up -- damaged 1/4 Cant 1007"

June 23 -- on scramble, "destroyed Macchi 202 damaged Macchi 202"

July 5 -- scramble. Me109F damaged.

July 6 -- "Ju-88 probable -- both motors smoking -- rear gunners killed."

July 13 -- Scramble. "Damaged Macchi 202" but his own aircraft was "shot up in oil cooler and crash landed Hal Far -- dead motor"

July 17 -- Scramble. "Destroyed 109F -- a/c blew up -- threw my dingy (sic) to pilot. Pilot died in motor launch. Got his Mae West."

With 1435 Squadron, Luqa

 July 24 -- Scramble. Me109 probable.

Aug. 8 -- Scramble against 18-plus raiders. Me109Fdestroyed, but his No. 2 (wingman) was lost.

Aug. 10 -- Me-109F destroyed

Aug. 13 -- Me-109F damaged on a convoy patrol.

Aug. 14 -- Ju-88 damaged.

Aug. 27 -- "Damaged coastal steamer"

Aug. 29 -- Me-109F destroyed

Sept. 26 -- Me-109F destroyed on a sweep over Sicily

Oct. 11-- in a scramble against "55+" raiders, he claimed two109Fs

damaged. On a dusk scramble the same day, he claimed two Ju88s destroyed, adding this note: "Shot up -- crashlanded in dark -- dead prop."

Oct. 12 -- Me-109F destroyed Oct. 13 -- during another raid by "50+" bogies, he claimed a Macchi 202 destroyed.

Oct. 14 -- another "50+" scramble. "Ju 88 damaged shot up -- Ju88 destroyed with one cannon -- No. 2 shot down".

Oct. 16--This time, a "70+" scramble: "Me109F damaged --shot up --No. 2 shot down. In a second, 50+ scramble, he claimed an Me-109F destroyed

Oct. 22 -- Macchi 202 destroyed

1943

 (no operational flying)

1944

 443 Squadron, RCAF

April 19 -- destroyed a Do217 on a "ranger" in the Louvain area.

May 5 -- destroyed a FW-190 on a "ramrod" to the Lille-Mons area.

May 20 -- "3 MET" (mechanized enemy transport) destroyed in the Cambrai Bouvaine area.

June 2 -- 2 MET damaged in the Bruges/Ghent area

June 14 -- Do217 destroyed while escorting Lancasters in the Le Havre area.

June 16 -- Me109G destroyed in a sweep of the Normandy beachhead area.

McLeod's own aircraft was hit by flak.

June 23 -- 2 FW-190s destroyed in the Argentan area

June 24 -- 3 MET strafed in the same area

June 30 -- 6 MET destroyed in the Liseaux area

July 20 -- FW190 destroyed "pilot bailed out before I could open fire!" during an armed recce of the Bernay/Laigle area.

July 30 -- Me109G destroyed during a squadron patrol of the Argentane/Laigle/Dreux area.

This above account, prepared from McLeod's own logbook, a photocopy of which is held by the author, adds up to 20 destroyed and four probables. Dan McCaffery's book on Canadian fighter aces gives McLeod 22 kills and Hugh Halliday's book The Tumbling Sky credits him with 19 kills, one probable and 9.5 damaged, although Halliday acknowledges the scantiness of records in Malta. Halliday's chapter on McLeod is far superior to that of McCaffery, which errs (by a full year) in the date of McLeod's enlistment in the RCAF and fails to mention McLeod's one-year stint at Bagotville.

Arthur Thurston's 1979 book Bluenose Spitfires, claims the Saskatchewan-born and -raised McLeod as a Nova Scotian on the paper-thin pretext that McLeod's father came from Nova Scotia!

RECOMMENDED READING:

See The Tumbling Sky, by Hugh Halliday, published by Canada's Wings, 1978.

- sections on 127 Squadron, 443 Squadron, plus 127 and 144 Wing in RCAF Squadrons and Aircraft, by Sam Kostenuk and John Griffin, published by the National Museum of Man in 1978.

 

This essay was revised in August, 2002

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