D.P. Leadley crew 12.10.44

front row rhs D Day lhs Bob Gill

The Leadley crew in front of an unknown Lancaster at Mepal. Don Leadley, Navigator is knelt to the right in the front row, next to Bob Gill, the crew’s Air Bomber. © Peter Day

Don Day portraits

Sgt. Donald A. Day, Navigator with the Leadley crew – 12th October 1944 to 18th February 1945. © Peter Day

Many thanks to Peter for passing on a wonderful set of photographs of his Father, Donald Day and the Leadley crew. In talking to Peter, I realised I was listening again to the recollections of the admiration that the crew held for their Skipper. Peter said he viewed Donald ‘Like a God‘ and I have heard this exact phrase used by others. No doubt each airman viewed their crew mates with respect and belief in their ability to do their job, but i think that ultimately, they all put their lives and trust in the hands of their ‘Skip’ – and they believed, come hell or high water that he would get them ‘back for breakfast’ after every Op.

Middle row far left 41 Air School Colindale East London South Africa Training

Don during his early training: middle row far left, whilst at No. 41 Air School, Colindale, East London, South Africa. © Peter Day

front row middle the Leadley crew

The Leadley crew on base, 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, Mepal, Cambridgeshire. Don is stood in the middle of the front row – I think, Bob Gill is stood behind Don, in the middle of the group. If this is Bob Gill, then based on the visibility of brevets as basic shapes within the photograph, I think that to the left of Bob, id Don Leadley, the Skipper. © Peter Day

The Leadley crew arrived at Mepal on the 12th of October 1944 from No.31 Base. Donald, the Skipper flew with Alan Baxter’s crew on the night of the 19th of October to Stuttgart. The Leadley crew flew their first Operational flight on the 21st of October to Flushing. The boys went on to complete their tour, their final Op with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF being to Munchen Gladbach on the 1st of February 1945 – ironically, the Op that marked my own Father’s return to the Squadron……..

21/10/1944 – Attack Against Flushing
Twenty five aircraft took off to attack Flushing. All crews were able to identify the target visually and bombing was reported as being very accurate. A.A. opposition was moderate. One aircraft (Captain 176437 F/O J. Johnson) failed to return, but was seen to be shot down over the target by heavy A A fire.

Lancaster Mk.III PB520 AA-G
Listed as a MK.III PB524 10 times (AC) (AIR14/3463 Damage Reports)

F/S Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S Percy Leonard Smith, RNZAF NZ39886 – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:05 – Landed 13:53
Flight Time 02:48

25/10/1944 – Attack Against Essen
Twenty six aircraft took off as detailed to attack Essen. Twenty three of these attacked the target and bombing was good, built up areas and factories being identified visually. One aircraft brought its bombs back owing to the failure of the bombing equipment when over the target and two other aircraft returned early owing to technical failures.

Lancaster Mk.III PB520 AA-G

F/S Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S Percy Leonard Smith, RNZAF NZ39886 – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 13:02 – Landed 17:20
Flight Time 04:18

26/10/1944 – Attack Against Leverkusen
Ten aircraft were detailed to attack Leverkusen. They all bombed the target in formation and a successful raid was reported. A.A. opposition was very slight.

Lancaster Mk.III PB520 AA-G

F/S Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S Percy Leonard Smith, RNZAF NZ39886 – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 13:04 – Landed 17:20
Flight Time 04:16

29/10/1944 – Attack Against West Kapelle
Fourteen aircraft took off to attack a target at West Kappelle. They all bombed as instructed by the Master Bomber and bombing was reported as concentrated, although it was thought to be slightly away from the correct aiming point. No opposition was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.III PB520 AA-G

F/S Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S Percy Leonard Smith, RNZAF NZ39886 – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:10 – Landed 12:37
Flight Time 02:27

30/10/1944 – Attack Against Wessling
Six aircraft took off to attack a target at Wesselling. Bombing was reported as being rather scattered. A.A. opposition was moderate to intense, but only one aircraft suffered damage.

Lancaster Mk.III PB421 AA-K

F/S Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S Percy Leonard Smith, RNZAF NZ39886 – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 09:06 – Landed 13:33
Flight Time 04:27

31/10/1944 – Attack Against Bottrop
Six aircraft took off as detailed to attack a target at Bottrop. they all attacked the target in formation and a fairly concentrated raid was achieved. A.A. fire over the target was intense but all of our aircraft returned safely.

Lancaster Mk.I NG113 AA-D

F/S Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S Percy Leonard Smith, RNZAF NZ39886 – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:49 – Landed 16:32
Flight Time 04:43

02/11/1944 – Attack Against Homberg
Twenty aircraft took off to attack the Oil Refinery at Homberg, carrying 7 x 8,000 lb, 13 x 4,000, 99 x 1,000 and 132 x 500 lb Bombs. All aircraft were successful in bombing the target in clear weather, and a concentrated raid developed. A large pall of black smoke was soon burning in the target area, and many crews saw their bombs burst in the smoke, through which parts of the factory were observed. Flak opposition was moderate to intense and eight aircraft suffered minor damage, but one aircraft captained by NZ421343 F/L V.J. Andrew, was hit by heavy flak when over the target and the starboard engine caught fire which the crew only managed to extinguish with great difficulty.

Lancaster Mk.III PB421 AA-K
Hit by flak once (AIR14/3463 Damage Reports)

F/S Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S Leslie Charles Witchard, RAAF AUS.424334 – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:34 – Landed 15:40
Flight Time 04:06

05/11/1944 – Attack Against Solingen
Eighteen aircraft detailed to make a second attack in daylight on Solingen carrying 8,000 lb, 4,000 lb, 1,000 lb, 500 lb, 4 lb inc. No.17 Clusters. All crews were successful in bombing in formation and reports indicate that bombing was more concentrated than in the previous raid.

Lancaster Mk.I HK593 AA-H “Hells Angel”

F/S Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S Leslie Charles Witchard, RAAF AUS.424334 – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:16 – Landed 15:30
Flight Time 05:14

06/10/1944 – Attack Against Coblenz
Sixteen aircraft were detailed for a night attack against Coblenz carrying 8,000 lb; 4,000 lb; No.14 clusters; No.17 clusters; 4lb inc. Fifteen aircraft were successful. The aircraft captained by F/O T. Winter (152351) returned early on account of engine trouble. Crews were able to identify the target visually in clear weather and a good concentrated raid developed, with smoke rising to 10,000 feet. NZ421919 F/O Kilpatrick, M had a short inconclusive encounter with a JU.88. Flak was moderate to slight.

Lancaster Mk.I HK593 AA-H “Hells Angel”

P/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S S. Cooke, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 16:57 – Landed 22:12
Flight Time 05:15

08/11/1944 – Attack Against Homberg
Twelve aircraft took off to attack the Oil Refinery at Homberg in daylight carrying 8,000 lb., 4,000 lb., 1,000 lb., 500 lb., and No 14 Clusters.  All crews report identifying the target visually through breaks in the clouds, and bombing was fairly concentrated, much smoke and many explosions were seen around the target.  Flak defences were moderate, but no fighter opposition was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.I NG113 AA-D

P/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
P/O Henry James Abrahams, RAFVR 1313153/ 183761 – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 08:01 – Landed 12:16
Flight Time 04:1

27/11/1944 – Attack Against Cologne Marshalling Yard
Twenty three aircraft carried out a successful attack on Cologne Marshalling Yard with 4,000 lb and 500 lb bombs. Flak over the target was moderate but accurate. One aircraft captained by F/O D.P. Leadley landed away at Manston. The crew were unhurt, but the aircraft was damaged.

As is sometimes the case, the reportage of the Form 541 Raid Summary barely fails to describe the actual events for the Leadley crew this night. As noted by Ron Mayhill, A/B with Jake Aitken’s crew HK 593 was, he thinks. one of the aircraft that he saw get hit by flak over the target.

Lancaster Mk.I HK593 AA-H “Hells Angel”
Bomb load 1 x 4,000 H.C., 16 x 500 M.C.,
Primary target Cologne M/Y.
Landed at Manston on two engines

Hit by flak 20 times (AC) Landed at Manston, crew unhurt. (AIR14/3463 Damage Reports)

Cologne extract from logbook

From Don Day’s logbook ‘s/c on 3 engines, bomber late – shot up by flak landed Marston with 1 1/2 engines.

F/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S P. Kidd, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:13 – Landed 17:10
Flight Time 04:57

For his efforts and skill on the return flight, F/O Donald Percy Leadley was awarded an Immediate Distinguished Flying Cross. The citation for this raid adds extra detail to the events of that night:

Citation DFC (Imm) 21st Dec 1944): In November 1944 this officer was pilot of an aircraft detailed to attack Cologne. Early on the outward flight the propeller of the starboard outer engine had to be feathered. Although some height was lost, Flying Officer Leadley went on to the target and executed his attack. During the operation the aircraft was hit by shrapnel . Some time later, en-route for home, the port inner engine commenced to emit smoke , whilst oil poured from it. Soon afterwards yet a third engine became defective. In spite of this Flying Officer Leadley flew to the nearest available airfield in this country and effected a safe landing. This officer has completed numerous sorties and has invariably displayed a high degree of skill, coolness and courage.

02/12/1944 – Attack Against Dortmund
Seventeen aircraft took off to make a daylight attack on the Coking Plant at Dortmund. All crews were successful in attacking the target which was covered by 10/10 cloud, tops being about 12,000 ft. and the raid was thought to be successful, though the Bomber stream was not as concentrated as usual. Flak was moderate, but very erratic, and none of our aircraft suffered damage. Bombs carried on this attack were 4,000 lb H.C., 1,000 lb. M.C. and 1,000 lb ANM.

Lancaster Mk.I NG113 AA-D
Bomb load 1 x 4,000 H.C., 5 x 1,000 M.C., 4 x 1,000 ANM.
Primary target Dortmund.
Scattered attack.

F/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S Leslie Charles Witchard, RAAF AUS.424334 – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:47 – Landed 17:18
Flight Time 04:31

04/12/1944 – Attack Against Oberhausen
Twenty aircraft took off as detailed to attack an Oil target at Oberhausen, carrying 1 x 12,000 lb, 8,000 lb, 4,000 H.C., 1,000 ANM, 500 G.P., 500 M.C. and 4 lb I.B. bombs. Nineteen aircraft attacked the target using navigational aids and the raid was reported as well concentrated though results were unobserved owing to 10/10 cloud with tops 10,000 ft covering the target. One aircraft bombed Gelsenkirchen, having been damaged by flak.

Lancaster Mk.I NG113 AA-D
Bomb load 1 x 4,000 H.C., 6 x 1,000 ANM, 6 x 500 G.P.
Primary target Oberhausen.
Second wave well concentrated bombing.

F/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S Leslie Charles Witchard, RAAF AUS.424334 – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:24 – Landed 16:08
Flight Time 03:44

05/12/1944 – Attack Against Hamm Marshalling Yards
Twenty one aircraft set out as detailed to attack the Railway Marshalling Yards at Hamm during daylight, carrying 8,000 lb H.C., 4,000 H.C., 500 G.P., 500 G.P. (LD.), 500 M.C., 4 lb I.B. bombs and Munroe bomb. Twenty aircraft attacked the target area through 10/10 cloud but a break in the cloud a little later disclosed bomb bursts to be rather scattered. One aircraft was led astray by the leader, and bombed a last resort target at Heintrop.

Lancaster Mk.I NG113 AA-D
Bomb load 1 x 4,000 H.C., 12 x 500 G.P., 2 x 500 G.P. LD 6hrs
Primary target Hamm M/Y.
Good concentration.

P/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/L Stanley William Galloway, RAFVR 148919 – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 09:09 – Landed 13:50
Flight Time 04:41

06/12/1944 – Attack Against Mersburg Leuna Oil Refinery
Twelve aircraft took off as detailed to participate in a night attack o the Merseburg Leuna Oil Refinery, carrying 8,000 lb, 4,000 H.C., 500 G.P., 500 G.P.(LD) bombs. The target was covered with 10/10 cloud, tops about 14,000 ft and all aircraft were successful in bombing the target with navigational aids. The attack was considered to be concentrated, though bombing results could not be seen, apart from the glow of fires seen beneath the cloud. Flak was intense in the target area and a few enemy fighters were seen en route but no attacks were reported. One aircraft, AA “R” captained by 1585981 F/O D. Atkin, had engine trouble after leaving the target, the starboard inner catching fire, and it was with great difficulty that the crew managed to keep the fire under control. When approaching this country the starboard inner engine went u/s and after jettisoning all equipment and with the aircraft losing height at 100 feet per minute, the Captain made a very good ditching in the River Orwell. None of the crew were hurt.

Lancaster Mk.I NG113 AA-D
Bomb load 1 x 4,000 H.C., 6 x 500 G.P., 2 x 500 G.P.L.D. 6hrs
Primary target Meresburg Oil Refinery.
Fairly good concentration on markers.

P/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/L Stanley William Galloway, RAFVR 148919 – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:05 – Landed 00:16
Flight Time 07:11

12/12/1944 – Attack Against Witten
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to attack Witten in daylight and again found their target obscured by ten tenths cloud. Moderate flak was encountered and enemy fighters were seen attacking the first wave of aircraft ahead. No results were observed owing to cloud. The aircraft captained by F/Lt Hannan collided with another aircraft just before reaching the target, however the target was bombed and base reached safely. The a/c captained by F/S Zinzan was damaged in landing and the Air Bomber F/O Mesure sustained a broken leg.

Lancaster Mk.I NG113 AA-D
Bomb load 1 x 4,000 H.C., 14 x 500 G.P., 2 x 500 M.C.
Primary target Witten.
Lead in first wave somewhat scattered due to attack by enemy fighter.

F/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S J. Brown, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:19 – Landed 15:54
Flight Time 04:35

21/12/1944 – Attack Against Trier
Fourteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target in daylight. Crews bombed by instruments in ten tenths cloud. Results were unobserved. NZ42397 F/L I. Hannan landed at Mendlesham on return, but reached Base later the same evening.

Lancaster Mk.I PB132 AA-X
Bomb load 1 x 4,000 H.C., 8 x 500 ANM, 2 x 500 M.C., 6 x 250 G.P.
Primary target Trier.
Gunners saw target through gap, seemed well hit.

F/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S J. Brown, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:19 – Landed 16:50
Flight Time 04:31

23/12/1944 – Attack Against Trier
The twenty one aircraft detailed on the 22nd December took off to attack Trier in improved weather conditions, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 G.P., 500 M.C., 500 ANM., 250 G.P. bombs. The target could be identified visually and T.Is were aimed at by most crews. The attack was reported as being good with very few scattered bombs. Several explosions were seen as our aircraft left the target.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J
Bomb load 1 x 4,000 H.C., 8 x 500 ANM, 2 x 500 M.C., 6 x 250 G.P.
Primary target Trier.
Very good concentration of bombs in target area.

F/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
F/S Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S J. Brown, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:44 – Landed 16:37
Flight Time 04:53

27/12/1944 – Attack Against Rheydt
As many crews as possible were required for an attack on Cologne. The target was cancelled and an attack on Rheydt was substituted. Inexperienced and special equipment leaders not being required the offer of 26 was reduced to 20. Aircraft took off carrying 1,000 ANM., 500 ANM., 500 M.C. and 250 G.P. Bombs. Visibility over the target was excellent and crews were able to identify the target, the flares being accurately placed. Clouds of smoke were seen to rise from the target. One aircraft AA”Q” captained by NZ421746 F/O H. Miles failed to return. This aircraft was seen to be hit by bombs and to spiral down.

Lancaster Mk.I LM266 AA-F
Bomb load 6 x 1,000 ANM, 4 x 500 ANM, 2 x 500 M.C., 4 x 250 G.P.
Primary target Rheydt.
Very good concentration of bombing over target. AA-O dropped bombs from 23,000ft. after being directly above for 3 minutes and had to take violent evasive action to avoid being hit.

P/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
F/S Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S J. Brown, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:27 – Landed 16:45
Flight Time 04:18

28/12/1944 – Attack Against Gremberg M/Y at Cologne
Twenty one aircraft were detailed to attack the Gremberg Marshalling yard at Cologne carrying 4,000 H.C., 1,000 ANM., 500 ANM., 500 M.C., and 250 G.P. Bombs. Nineteen aircraft bombed the target and one bombed short due to technical failure. One aircraft AA”S” captained by NZ425292 F/O D. Sadgrove returned early owing to engine trouble. Crews were satisfied that the attack was successful, many reporting smoke rising well above the cloud tops. Slight H/F was experienced, but no fighter opposition.

Lancaster Mk.I NG113 AA-D
Bomb load 2 x 1,000 ANM, 15 x 500 ANM.
Primary target Grenberg M/Y.
A bit too concentrated to be safe.

F/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
F/S Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S J. Brown, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:15 – Landed 16:58
Flight Time 04:43

31/12/1944 – Attack Against Vohwinkel
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to attack Vohwinkel in daylight. Moderate accurate heavy flak was met over the target, but all aircraft returned safely. A scattered raid was reported.

Lancaster Mk.I PB741 AA-E
Bomb load 1 x 4,000 H.C., 8 x 500 ANM, 2 x 500 M.C. 4 x 250 G.P.
Primary target Vohwinkel.
Generally good but some scattered bombing.

F/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
F/S Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S J. Brown, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:44 – Landed 16:23
Flight Time 04:39

01/01/1945 – Attack Against Vohwinkel
Twenty one aircraft were detailed to attack Vohwinkel, in datlight. Nineteen aircraft took off, seventeen of which attacked the primary target. F/O McMillan attacked a last resort target. NZ40984 W/Cdr. R.J. Newton and NZ429286 P/O R. Aitchison as second pilot, failed to return. There was very little opposition in the target area.

Lancaster Mk.I NG113 AA-U
Bomb load 1 x 4,000 H.C., 12 x 500 ANM, 2 x 500 M.C. 4 x 250 T.I.
Primary target Vohwinkel.
Uneventful trip.

F/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
F/S Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S J. Brown, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 16:01 – Landed 21:38
Flight Time 05:37

03/01/1945 – Attack Against Dortmund Oil Refinery
Fourteen aircraft were detailed to attack Dortmund Oil Refineries in daylight. Crews bombed by instruments in ten tenths cloud. Results were unobserved. The aircraft carried 4,000 H.C., 500 M.C. 500 G.P. 500 ANM and Munro bombs. NZ42397 F/L L. Hannan landed at Mendalsham on return, but reached base later the same evening.

Lancaster Mk.I LM266 AA-F
Bomb load 1x 1,000 H.C., 13 x 500 G.P., 2 x 500 M.C. 1 Munro.
Primary target Dortmund oil refinery.
Good concentration on flares.

Hit by flak once (AIR14/ 3463 Damage reports)

F/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
F/S Noel Thorpe, RNZAF NZ428168 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. W. Pugh, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:39 – Landed 17:35
Flight Time 04:56

11/01/1945 – Attack Against Krefeld
Nineteen aircraft were detailed to attack Krefeld, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500AMN., 500G.P., 500 M.C., 250 G.P., and Munro bombs. Seventeen aircraft bombed the target in tenths cloud with special equipment and two aircraft bombed last resort. Slight H/F was met over the target, but no fighters were seen.

Lancaster Mk.I NG113 AA-D
Bomb load 1 x 4,000 H.C., 8 x 500 M.C., 4 x 250 G.P., 1 x 350 Munroe.
Primary target Krefeld.
Fairly good bombing around flares.

F/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
F/S Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S D. Brazier , RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:34 – Landed 16:46
Flight Time 05:12

13/01/1945 – Attack Against Saarbrucken
Eighteen of nineteen aircraft detailed carried out a successful daylight attack on Saarbrucken Marshalling Yard, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500AMN., 500G.P., 500 M.C., 250 G.P., and Munro bombs. W/Cdr Baigent in ‘A’ had to return with his full load after reaching the target owing to technical trouble which prevented release of bombs. Crews bombed on special equipment. The Marshalling Yard was visible and many bursts were seen on the target. No opposition reported. All aircraft were diverted owing to bad visibility at Base.

Lancaster Mk.I NG113 AA-D
Bomb load 1 x 4,000 H.C., 7 x 500 ANM, 4 x 250 G.P., 1 x 350 Munroe.
Primary target Saarbrucken.
A very good attack. Blue markers a great improvement.

P/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
F/S Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
W/O John Smyrk, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:31 – Landed 17:14
Flight Time 05:43

15/01/1945 – Attack Against Langendreer
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack Langendreer, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500AMN., 500 M.C., 250 G.P., and Munro bombs. One aircraft ‘D’ captained by F/O Leadley failed to reach the target owing to starboard inner engine failing. No results were observed owing to ten tenths cloud. Flak was slight over the target. No fighter opposition was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.I NG113 X AA-D
Bomb load 1 x 4,000 H.C., 9 x 500 ANM, 2 x 500 M.C., 4 x 250 G.P. 1 x 350 Munroe.
Primary target Langendreer, but abortive.
Furthest point reached 5027/0530 E 14:14hrs 16,000ft. Bombs jettisoned, stbd. inner failed.

Confirmed in Don Day’s logbook – ‘Engine failiure – returned’

F/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
F/S Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
P/O F. Power – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:31 – Landed 17:02
Flight Time 05:31

16/01/1945 – Attack Against Wanne Eickel
Seventeen aircraft attacked Wanne Hickel in ten tenths cloud, tops 6/7000 feet, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 G.P. 500 ANM, 500 M.C. 250 G.P. and Munro bombs. Crews bombed with the aid of instruments and sky markers. Flak was moderate. The general impression was that bombing was concentrated on markers and red glow seen through cloud. The aircraft captained by NZ426235 F/S Wood, J, was attacked by a F.W. 190. The rear gunner opened fire, but no hits were observed and our aircraft suffered no damage. The aircraft captained by NZ414376 F/L T. Blewett unfortunately crashed in this country. The captain and Air Bomber NZ426234 F/O J. Wilson were killed. The Navigator 1398282 F/S Cornell, B.T. died later as a result of severe injuries.

Lancaster Mk.I PB763 AA-A
Bomb load 1 x 4,000 H.C., 10 x 500 G.P, 2 x 500 M.C., 2 x 250 G.p, 1 x Munroe.
Primary target Wanne Eickel.
Bombing scattered – saw red glow – S/L followed stream in and out this side of front line.

Hit by flak twice (AIR14/3463 Damage Reports)

F/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
F/S Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
F/S D. Brazier , RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:35 – Landed 04:09
Flight Time 04:34

28/01/1945 – Attack Against Cologne (Gremberg)
Twenty aircraft attacked Cologne (Gremberg) as ordered, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 ANM., 500 M.C. “50 G.P. and Munro bombs. Cloud broke to nil just before the target and crews were able to identify the marshalling yard. Accurate slight to moderate H/F was met over the target. No fighters were seen. Bursts were seen on the marshalling yard. All returned to base.

Lancaster Mk.I NG113 AA-D
Bomb load 1 x 4,000 H.C., 8 x 500 ANM, 2 x 500 M.C., 2 x 250 G.P, 1 Munro.
Cologne (Gremburg).
Target seemed to get a good plastering with tendency to overshoot.

Hit by Flak twice (AIR14/3463 Damage Reports)

P/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
F/S Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. W.E. Campin, RAFVR 1673010 – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:20 – Landed 16:24
Flight Time 06:04

29/01/1945 – Attack Against Krefeld M/Y
Nineteen aircraft attacked Krefeld marshalling yard in ten tenths cloud, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 ANM., 500 M.C., and 250 G.P. Bombs. Aircraft bombed in formation with the aid of instruments. A good concentration was reported. Slight H/F over the target was the only opposition encountered.

Lancaster Mk.III PB418 AA-G
Bomb load 1 x 4,000 H.C., 9 x 500 ANM, 2 x 500 M.C., 4 x 250 G.P.
Primary target Krefeld M/Y.
Other aircraft were bearing through the target and upset the formation after owing to slipstream.

F/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
F/S Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. W.E. Campin, RAFVR 1673010 – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:02 – Landed 15:40
Flight Time 05:38

01/02/1945 – Attack Against Munchen Gladbach
Seventeen aircraft bomber Munchen Gladbach. No results were observed owing to cloud being ten tenths over the target.

Lancaster Mk.I NG113 AA-D
Bomb load 1x 4,000 H.C., 9 x 500 ANM, 2 x 500 M.C., 3 x 250 G.P., 1 x 240 Smoke Puff.
Primary target Munchen Gladbach.
Seemed a scattered affair. Blue puffs over a wide area. A shakey port inner which caught fire on way home was cause of low maximum height.

F/O Donald Percy Leadley, RNZAF NZ427062 – Pilot.
F/S Donald Alfred Day, RAFVR 1602082 – Navigator.
F/S Robert A. ‘Bob’ Gill, RAFVR 1292170 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. W.E. Campin, RAFVR 1673010 – Wireless Operator.
F/S R. Clare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Phillip Baden Baker, RNZAF NZ416976 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Keith Kitchener Heslop, RNZAF NZ425422 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:36 – Landed 18:19
Flight Time 05:43

 

2nd right Brother Daves wedding

Don stood second from right on his Brother, Dave’s wedding day. © Peter Day