The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. L Smith
Leonard Smith joined the RAFVR at No. 3 RAF Depot on 7th June 1940 as an Aircrafthand. During basic training at West Kirby he volunteered for aircrew duties and after being selected was sent to No. 2 Wireless and Electrical School at Yatesbury for a short radar course.
On 21st July 1940 Smith joined 219 Squadron at Catterick. On the 30th Smith and Sgt. ER Lacey, air gunner, were in a Blenheim piloted by P/O GM Head. They made a crash-landing at Catterick after the undercarriage could not be lowered. All three men were unhurt.
Smith flew his first operational sortie with 219 on 16th August 1940.
In October the squadron began to receive Beaufighters. Many radar operators were posted away in late 1940 but Smith remained and in November he was promoted to Sergeant, with rank and pay back-dated. He crewed up with P/O Styles and they were to stay together until September 1943. They damaged a He111 on 5th May 1941.
In July 1941 Smith was posted to No. 2 School of Air Navigation at Cranage for a course, after which he returned to 219.
He joined 153 Squadron at Ballyhalbert on 14th February 1942 and was commissioned in June. The squadron flew in several stages to Maison Blanche, Algiers in December and became operational on the 25th.
Styles and Smith destroyed a Ju88 on 21st January 1943 and a SM79 on 25th June.
Smith left for the UK on 6th September, escorting a German PoW, Leutnant Hoelzel. In October Smith went to 62 OTU Ouston for a course and he afterwards instructed on AI at 54 OTU Winfield.
On 24th March 1944 he returned to operations, joining 264 Squadron at Church Fenton, flying in Mosquitos with F/Lt. Burke as pilot. They covered the invasion and moved to France in August 1944.
Smith was posted away in April 1945 and in June he went to a GCA unit as a controller.
He was released from the RAF on 16th November 1946 as a Flight Lieutenant.