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Pilot Officer Bill Leckie, AEM, KW


The signature of Pilot Officer Bill Leckie, AEM, KW

Pilot Officer Bill Leckie, AEM, KW

Bill Leckie was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 23rd June 1921, joined the Royal Air Force in June 1941 and went to St Johns Wood on the 15th of September 1941. Bill Leckie started his flying training on the 4th of April 1942 at Stoke Orchard near Cheltenham in Tiger Moths. He went to Canada on the 26th of May 1942 at Monkton for further training until June before going on to Detroit and on to Pensacola, Florida on the 1st October 1942, flying Stearman and Catalina Flying boats until 31st March 1943 when Bill went to Prince Edward Island for further training. Back in the UK, Bill was expecting to join a Coastal Command squadron flying Catalinas but was transferred to Bomber Command and a conversion course on to Whitleys at Kinloss Scotland on the 22nd of February 1944, and joined 77 Squadron at Full Sutton on the 19th July 1944 on Halifaxes, flying 6 bombing missions, one being the bombing of the Flying Bomb Factory at Russesheim, before transferring to 148 Special Duties squadron on the 19th of August 1944 and going to Brindisi. Pilot Officer Bill Leckie was involved in the dropping of supplies (guns, ammunition and food) to the Polish during the Warsaw uprising. This was a costly mission and many aircraft were lost. (Bill was flying Halifax JD319 (FS - G). For his efforts in air-dropping supplies during this period, Bill Leckie was awarded the Polish Cross of Valour (KW). Pilot Officer Bill Leckie was also the Pilot for Operation Ebensburg on Sunday 8th April 1945. Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron carried out the misison to drop four SOE agents and their equipment near Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps. Thier mission was to secure and protect 6,755 items of the worlds greatest works of art that had been looted and stored by the Germans as they swept across Europe. With the allied forces closing in, the Germans had planned to blow up the entire store to prevent the artworks from falling into the hands of the liberators. Once on the ground, the four agents linked up with local resistance fighters and the mine and its valuable contents were eventually secured, the explosives made safe and the entire cache taken into the safe keeping of the 80th US Infantry Division as the German occupation of Europe crumbled. Bill Leckie stayed with 148 Squadron until 18th May 1945 when he was posted to Cairo with 216 Squadron (Dakotas) of Transport Command and on 1st January 1946 to 78 Squadron flying Dakotas again until 1st June 1946 , finally leaving the RAF on the 18th September 1946.

Latest Pilot Officer Bill Leckie, AEM, KW Signed Artwork Releases !
 Sunday 8th April 1945. Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF piloted by Pilot officer Bill Leckie is depicted approaching the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps to drop four SOE agents and their equipment whose mission it was to secure and protect 6,755 items of the world's greatest works of art that had been looted and stored by the Germans as they swept across Europe.  With the allied forces closing in, the Germans had planned to blow up the entire store to prevent the artworks from falling into the hands of the liberators.  Once on the ground, the four agents linked up with local resistance fighters and the mine and its valuable contents were eventually secured, the explosives made safe and the entire cache taken into the safe keeping of the 80th US Infantry Division as the German occupation of Europe crumbled.

Operation Ebensburg by Ivan Berryman. (D)
 Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF is depicted over the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps as two of the four SOE agents exit the bomber via the crew access door.  Their mission was to secure and protect 6,755 items of the world's greatest works of art that had been looted and stored by the Germans as they swept across Europe.  With the allied forces closing in, the Germans had planned to blow up the entire store to prevent the artworks from falling into the hands of the liberators. Once on the ground, the four agents linked up with local resistance fighters and the mine and its valuable contents were eventually secured, the explosives made safe and the entire cache taken into the safe keeping of the 80th US Infantry Division as the German occupation of Europe crumbled.

SOE Drop by Ivan Berryman. (C)
 At 3.30am on the 23rd June 1945, a Dakota of 357 (special duties) Squadron took off from Mingaladon airfield nr.  Rangoon , to travel the 600 miles, 300 of them behind enemy lines, to rescue a downed American Liberator crew deep in the jungles of Siam.  The Dakota was flown by pilot Fl Lt. Larry Lewis, who already held the DFM awarded to him for 33 ops as a rear gunner on   Wellingtons  in 1941. Two crews had already failed when Lewis was asked to attempt this hazardous mission. Flying between 5,000 - 6,000ft he flew over The Hump, a ridge of mountains running down the spine of   Burma  . Local villagers had cleared a rough airstrip 800yds long with Lewis finding it by the time dawn broke. With monsoon clouds gathering, the Liberator crew aboard and the Dakota sinking in the wet ground, he managed, just, to get airborne. Flying at zero feet and looking out for Japanese Zero fighters Lewis took a different course back. Although being fired on from the ground they managed to make it all the way to the airfield at Dum Dum nr.   Calcutta ,  India  . Lewis was awarded an immediate DFC. By the end of the war he had completed 63 ops, held the rank of Squadron Leader with his service from 1938-1945, and was awarded the Air Efficiency Medal.

Larry Lewis DFC by Graeme Lothian. (D)
 Having survived the bombing raid on Karlsruhe, it was the cruelest of ironies that Halifax III LK789 (MP-L) of 76 Sqn should fall victim to a lone German fighter that was lurking in the night skies above Norfolk.  Witnessed by another Halifax, LK785 (MP-T), the upward firing waist guns of Lt Wolfgang Wenning's Messerschmitt Me410 of II/KG51 found their mark, expertly exploiting the blind spot of the Halifax, sending LK789 down in flames near Welney, killing all but one of her crew.  Wenning's victory was to be short lived, however, the German being killed in a mid air collision with an RAF Airspeed Oxford just three days later during another intruder operation over the midlands.

Unseen and Deadly by Ivan Berryman. (AP)

Items Signed by Pilot Officer Bill Leckie, AEM, KW

 Sunday 8th April 1945. Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF piloted by Pilot officer Bill Leckie is depicted approaching the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps to drop four SOE agents......
Operation Ebensburg by Ivan Berryman.
Price : £45.00
Sunday 8th April 1945. Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF piloted by Pilot officer Bill Leckie is depicted approaching the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps to drop four SOE agents......

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 Sunday 8th April 1945. Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF piloted by Pilot officer Bill Leckie is depicted approaching the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps to drop four SOE agents......
Operation Ebensburg by Ivan Berryman. (AP)
Price : £70.00
Sunday 8th April 1945. Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF piloted by Pilot officer Bill Leckie is depicted approaching the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps to drop four SOE agents......

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 Sunday 8th April 1945. Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF piloted by Pilot officer Bill Leckie is depicted approaching the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps to drop four SOE agents......
Operation Ebensburg by Ivan Berryman. (D)
Price : £360.00
Sunday 8th April 1945. Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF piloted by Pilot officer Bill Leckie is depicted approaching the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps to drop four SOE agents......

Quantity:
 Sunday 8th April 1945. Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF piloted by Pilot officer Bill Leckie is depicted approaching the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps to drop four SOE agents......
Operation Ebensburg by Ivan Berryman. (P)
Price : £1300.00
Sunday 8th April 1945. Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF piloted by Pilot officer Bill Leckie is depicted approaching the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps to drop four SOE agents......

Quantity:
 Having survived the bombing raid on Karlsruhe, it was the cruelest of ironies that Halifax III LK789 (MP-L) of 76 Sqn should fall victim to a lone German fighter that was lurking in the night skies above Norfolk.  Witnessed by another Halifax, LK785......
Unseen and Deadly by Ivan Berryman.
Price : £80.00
Having survived the bombing raid on Karlsruhe, it was the cruelest of ironies that Halifax III LK789 (MP-L) of 76 Sqn should fall victim to a lone German fighter that was lurking in the night skies above Norfolk. Witnessed by another Halifax, LK785......

Quantity:
 Having survived the bombing raid on Karlsruhe, it was the cruelest of ironies that Halifax III LK789 (MP-L) of 76 Sqn should fall victim to a lone German fighter that was lurking in the night skies above Norfolk.  Witnessed by another Halifax, LK785......
Unseen and Deadly by Ivan Berryman. (AP)
Price : £110.00
Having survived the bombing raid on Karlsruhe, it was the cruelest of ironies that Halifax III LK789 (MP-L) of 76 Sqn should fall victim to a lone German fighter that was lurking in the night skies above Norfolk. Witnessed by another Halifax, LK785......

Quantity:
 Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF is depicted over the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps as two of the four SOE agents exit the bomber via the crew access door.  Their mission was......
SOE Drop by Ivan Berryman.
Price : £80.00
Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF is depicted over the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps as two of the four SOE agents exit the bomber via the crew access door. Their mission was......

Quantity:
 Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF is depicted over the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps as two of the four SOE agents exit the bomber via the crew access door.  Their mission was......
SOE Drop by Ivan Berryman. (AP)
Price : £110.00
Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF is depicted over the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps as two of the four SOE agents exit the bomber via the crew access door. Their mission was......

Quantity:
 Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF is depicted over the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps as two of the four SOE agents exit the bomber via the crew access door.  Their mission was......
SOE Drop by Ivan Berryman. (C)
Price : £420.00
Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF is depicted over the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps as two of the four SOE agents exit the bomber via the crew access door. Their mission was......

Quantity:
 Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF is depicted over the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps as two of the four SOE agents exit the bomber via the crew access door.  Their mission was......
SOE Drop by Ivan Berryman. (P)
Price : £1100.00
Halifax B.II Series 1 (Special) JP254 of 148 Special Duties Squadron, RAF is depicted over the drop zone near to the Alt Aussee salt mine in the Austrian Alps as two of the four SOE agents exit the bomber via the crew access door. Their mission was......

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 One of 6,176 Halifaxes built during World War II, NA337(2P-X) was shot down over Norway on 23rd April 1945. In 1995 it was recovered from the lake that had been its watery home for fifty years and has now been restored by the Halifax Aircraft Associ......
Halifax Mk.III NA337 by Ivan Berryman. (D)
Price : £180.00
One of 6,176 Halifaxes built during World War II, NA337(2P-X) was shot down over Norway on 23rd April 1945. In 1995 it was recovered from the lake that had been its watery home for fifty years and has now been restored by the Halifax Aircraft Associ......

Quantity:
 One of 6,176 Halifaxes built during World War II, NA337(2P-X) was shot down over Norway on 23rd April 1945.  In 1995 it was recovered from the lake that had been its watery home for fifty years and has now been restored by the Halifax Aircraft Assoc......
Halifax Mk.III NA337 by Ivan Berryman. (XX)
Price : £220.00
One of 6,176 Halifaxes built during World War II, NA337(2P-X) was shot down over Norway on 23rd April 1945. In 1995 it was recovered from the lake that had been its watery home for fifty years and has now been restored by the Halifax Aircraft Assoc......

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 Halifax glider tugs of 644 Squadron, Tarrant Rushton, 1944. ......
Halifax Tugs Towing Hamilcar Gliders by Ivan Berryman. (H)
Price : £100.00
Halifax glider tugs of 644 Squadron, Tarrant Rushton, 1944. ......

Quantity:
 At 3.30am on the 23rd June 1945, a Dakota of 357 (special duties) Squadron took off from Mingaladon airfield nr.  Rangoon , to travel the 600 miles, 300 of them behind enemy lines, to rescue a downed American Liberator crew deep in the jungles of   ......
Larry Lewis DFC by Graeme Lothian. (AP)
Price : £120.00
At 3.30am on the 23rd June 1945, a Dakota of 357 (special duties) Squadron took off from Mingaladon airfield nr. Rangoon , to travel the 600 miles, 300 of them behind enemy lines, to rescue a downed American Liberator crew deep in the jungles of ......

Quantity:
 At 3.30am on the 23rd June 1945, a Dakota of 357 (special duties) Squadron took off from Mingaladon airfield nr.  Rangoon , to travel the 600 miles, 300 of them behind enemy lines, to rescue a downed American Liberator crew deep in the jungles of Si......
Larry Lewis DFC by Graeme Lothian. (D)
Price : £110.00
At 3.30am on the 23rd June 1945, a Dakota of 357 (special duties) Squadron took off from Mingaladon airfield nr. Rangoon , to travel the 600 miles, 300 of them behind enemy lines, to rescue a downed American Liberator crew deep in the jungles of Si......

Quantity:
 Lancaster, Halifax, Stirling and Mosquito of Bomber Command. ......
Bombers by Keith Aspinall. (C)
Price : £45.00
Lancaster, Halifax, Stirling and Mosquito of Bomber Command. ......

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Sadly, but two examples of the Handly page Halifax exist today - the unrestored W1048 at the RAF Museum at Hendon, and the Yorkshire Air Museums pristine LV907 Friday the 13th, a rebuild from the remains of HR792.......
A Friday in Winter by Keith Woodcock. (B)
Price : £40.00
Sadly, but two examples of the Handly page Halifax exist today - the unrestored W1048 at the RAF Museum at Hendon, and the Yorkshire Air Museums pristine LV907 Friday the 13th, a rebuild from the remains of HR792.......

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Packs with at least one item featuring the signature of Pilot Officer Bill Leckie, AEM, KW


Handley Page Halifax Print Pack.
Pack Price : £330.00
Saving : £485
Aviation Print Pack. ......

Titles in this pack :

Leading the Way by Gerald Coulson.
Halifax Legend by Robert Taylor
Friday the 13th by Ivan Berryman. (B)
Halifax Mk.III NA337 by Ivan Berryman. (D)

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Crew Signed Halifax Aviation Prints by Gerald Coulson and Ivan Berryman.
Pack Price : £235.00
Saving : £245
Aviation Print Pack. ......

Titles in this pack :

Leading the Way by Gerald Coulson.
Halifax Mk.III NA337 by Ivan Berryman. (D)

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Halifax Aircraft Aviation Print Pack by Ivan Berryman and Philip West.
Pack Price : £160.00
Saving : £235
Aviation Print Pack. ......

Titles in this pack :

Mutual Support by Philip West.
Halifax Mk.III NA337 by Ivan Berryman. (D)

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Halifax Aviation Art Prints by Ivan Berryman.
Pack Price : £145.00
Saving : £205
Aviation Print Pack. ......

Titles in this pack :

Friday the 13th by Ivan Berryman.
Halifax Mk.III NA337 by Ivan Berryman. (D)

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Pilot Officer Bill Leckie, AEM, KW


Bill Leckie, the pilot of the Halifax depicted, with the original painting Operation Ebensburg, and during a print signing session.

Bill Leckie, AEM, KW, Scottish Saltire Branch, ACA.

Following flying training at Pensacola, USA, Bill Leckie served as a pilot with 77, 148, 216 & 78 RAF Squadrons. Being a member of so many different squadrons, flying duties were many and varied, but following the more orthodox bombing missions, Bill Leckie proceeded to take part in special duties. In the following account, Bill recalls two of those more unusual flying operations in which he was personally involved. The first one relates to the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, which occurred after five years of Warsaw's occupation by the Germans, an occupation unprecedented in terms of its ferocity and cruelty. The Uprising began as Soviet troops were attacking German positions in the vicinity of the city. While many aspects of world-war-two are vividly brought to mind and remembered, Bill Leckie shares the view that the Warsaw Uprising and Airlift for various reasons were not well reported, not even at the time, although it was one of the major battles of the war. On October 5, 1939, Hitler held a victory parade in Warsaw. A few weeks earlier, on August 23, he had told his commanders: "The destruction of Poland is our goal. The first objective is to liquidate the enemy forces. Be brutal, not merciful. Might is right. Hence, I've ordered my SS units to kill Polish men, women and children without hesitation." August 1 at 5:00 p.m., and in some areas earlier, Warsaw entered into a battle with the German enemy. The attitude of the population is described in the dispatch sent on August 4. 1944, to the Government-in-Exile in London by Gen. Bor: "The civilian population have made common cause with the soldiers, building barricades against the enemy's tanks. On all captured positions and on the houses in areas controlled by the insurgents, Polish flags have been hoisted spontaneously. A constant concern is ammunition, the supplies of which are dwindling by the hour, and the scarcity of weapons which is preventing the participation in the battle of the masses of volunteers." These statements may give a hint on how the RAF became involved in this situation. The August 4, 1944, entry in the war diary of the German 9th Army reads: "No change in the situation in Warsaw. The centre of the city is completely controlled by the insurgents." This was the point where Bill Leckie and his crew became part of the 'Warsaw Airlift.' At 1:OOa.m. on the night of August 5, British "Halifax" planes flying from Italy made the first Allied air drops of weapons, awaited since the first hours of the Uprising. At 7:00 a.m. the same day the Germans launched a counter-attack in the Wola district. Artillery, heavy machine guns, battle tanks, and air raids were used. At 2:00 p.m. SS troops stormed into the Wola Hospital. shot the staff of 60 and the 300 sick and wounded patients. On Saturday over 30,000 civilians were murdered and burned in the Wola suburb. This was the situation which Bill Leckie and his crew found themselves in their efforts to airlift supplies where urgently required. The expected support from Russia did not materialise and the Uprising ended in defeat. However, for his efforts in air-dropping supplies during this period, Bill Leckie was awarded the Polish Cross of Valour (KW) for undertaking Special Duties in flying supplies into Warsaw.

The second of the two unusual flying operations, in which Bill Leckie was involved, relates to the massive collection of works of art looted by the Nazis from occupied European countries, some of which had been stockpiled in a salt mine located deep in the Austrian Alps. Intended to be recovered post-war for personal gain, the most valuable treasure and works of art were hidden in this mine at Alt Aussee, near the town of Bad Aussee. With Allied forces advancing closer to this enormous collection of loot, Hitler had given orders that it was to be destroyed rather than fall into Allied hands. Horrified at the loss of irreplaceable works of art, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force had given firm orders that everything must be done to avoid this mindless destruction. Bill Leckie states "At this time we had absolutely no previous idea of our role in this situation concerning the German threat to destroy Nazi loot. Security at that time was 100% efficient with no indication of what was about to take place other than fulfilling our own particular task to the best of our ability. As pilot and captain of a Halifax aircraft about to embark on an SD operation, I was fully briefed with the exception of a previous meeting or learning any details of four persons we had been instructed to drop over a specific dropping zone (DZ). To ensure maximum security in line with SD practice, there was no communication between aircrew and SOE agents, other than the dispatcher making them familiar with dropping procedures." Little did Bill Leckie know, at that time the important part his 'passengers' were about to play in perhaps the most significant SOE operation mounted to save the stolen works of art. The four persons he had been detailed to drop were all Austrian, highly trained special agents who were prepared to embark on this highly dangerous mission in a race against time before the contents of the salt mine had been totally destroyed by the retreating Germans. "We took off in Halifax 'T' for Tommy at 23.45 hours in bright moonlight on Sunday 8th April 1945, from our base at Brindisi in southern Italy. My crew consisted of self (Pilot Officer Bill Leckie) Pilot; Navigator W/O Tom Ryden; Bomb Aimer F/Sgt Jim Douglas; Flight Engineer F/Sgt David Pithie; Wireless Operator F/Sgt Jack Pointer; Rear Gunner F/Sgt Charlie Leslie; and dispatcher FISgt John Lennox. Also on board were the four SOE agents, our only remit being to drop them in a precise spot; unaware at the time we were involved in Operation Ebensburg. It was a lovely clear night and I flew in a north-west direction, flying parallel to Italy's northern coastline, then turning northwards off the port of Ascona and heading between Venice to the west and Trieste to the east. I now wonder what my feelings would have been then, if I had known one of my 'passengers' was a former Luftwaffe paymaster who had defected to the French Resistance. He was a native of the area to which we were now heading, and had discovered from relatives, the Nazi plan to conceal massive collections of art treasures in this area which was well known to him from childhood. Albecht Gaiswinkler, in addition to informing the Allies of the location of this huge repository, seemed to be the ideal person to receive specialist training in England to become one of the four special agents I was now transporting to the site of this clandestine operation." Gaiswinkler was posted to SOE Special Training School in Dorking, Surrey, and several other highly specialised Special Operational Executive training units (SOE) where he met up with two other Austrians who were to become part of the four-man group. The fourth member (also Austrian) had been a member of the Werhmacht and while serving, had become an expert radio operator. Like the other members of the group he was strongly opposed to the Nazi regime, he defected from the German army while serving in Greece, and joining the Partisans, had already received guerrilla training, then decided to throw in his lot with the Allies. Part of the comprehensive training included parachute exercises which were carried out at Ringway Airfield, Manchester. Although unknown to the crew of Halifax 'T' for Tommy, the primary task of the four agents was to find out the situation at Alt Aussee salt mine, organise local resistance groups and report all information back to HQ code name 'Maryland' and the time was now approaching for the drop. At 02.50 hours, 30 minutes before the designated time, Dispatcher F/Sgt John Lennox indicated to the four Austrians it was now time to prepare for the drop. This came almost as a relief, as they were suffering from cold and stiffness due to the cramped condition in the unheated fuselage. Securing all personal weapons and equipment, all four reported readiness for the drop. Soon afterwards, the Halifax banked gently and started its run at 800 feet to drop the containers. They were watched by rear gunner F/Sgt Leslie floating down by parachute on to the DZ. The four Austrians followed on the second run in, all reported to have dropped on the precise area of the dropping zone as briefed. It was discovered later that all containers except one had sunk into deep snow. The only one retrieved, contained the vital radio but was found to have been damaged in the drop. The group had to hurriedly leave the area, as the sound of the Halifax engines had initiated a mountain search by German troops. Linking up with local resistance groups later, a replacement radio was 'acquired' which was essential to retaining contact with HQ. It transpired that the new radio had been taken from the office of Himmler's second-in-command, who had fled on the advance by Allied troops. Large supplies of Nazi loot were still arriving at the salt-mine depository, and the agents' surveillance of this situation was made much easier by discovering that the man in charge of the mine repository was a communist, and a secret member of the local Resistance Organisation. Following close continuous surveillance organised by the four Austrian agents, it was eventually discovered that among the art treasures arriving, six mysterious crates had been placed in the mine. By resistance workers breaking in to examine those, it was discovered the crates contained 500 Ib aircraft bombs, all set ready to be set off at any given time, in order to completely destroy the stolen priceless valuables and irreplaceable works of art. When the German troops charged with guarding the mine and its valuables decided to desert their charges on the approach of Allied Forces, agent Gaiswinkler became increasingly worried about anyone arriving to trigger off the bombs inside the mine. It was arranged that the bombs were defused, and a minor explosion was arranged to seal off the entrance to the vast number of chambers containing the Nazi loot. Gaiswinkler then sent off two men to try to contact US Forces, to convince them of the urgency required to take over custody of the mine's contents. As luck would have it the two men were captured by German troops, and Gaiswinkler organised a raid to recapture his two men. It was to the immense relief of Gaiswinkler, when the 80th US Infantry Division arrived at Alt Aussee, and realising the importance of the situation, immediately occupied the area and secured the mine and contents. Although secret agent Gaiswinkler and three other Austrians dropped by Bill Leckie, saved 6,755 of the world's greatest works of art, including paintings by Titian, Goya, Rubens, Michelangelo, Rembrandt and numerous others, they subsequently received little public recognition. Albrecht Gaiswinkler was apparently nominated for the King's Medal, a personal gift from the sovereign, the honour was apparently turned down. It is reassuring however, that persons of such high ideals and values are recognised in some publications. The magazine 'Military Illustrated' dated April 2002, provides a great deal more information on the Special Duty carried out by 148 Squadron, with Halifax 'T' for Tommy flown by Bill Leckie. Peter Harclerode covers this subject in an interesting and informative manner, his account of 'Op Ebensburg' is highly recommended to those interested in this subject. "I ponder these days, that perhaps it was just as well that security was so strict during WW2 and we did not know exactly what was in front of us. At least we were then able to concentrate completely on our own area of expertise, and allow others to continue with theirs. The saying goes that 'Ignorance is bliss' but in special operations the ignorance of others to know what you are up to is sometimes essential."

Squadrons for : Pilot Officer Bill Leckie, AEM, KW
A list of all squadrons known to have been served with by Pilot Officer Bill Leckie, AEM, KW. A profile page is available by clicking the squadron name.
SquadronInfo

No.148 Sqn RAF

Country : UK
Founded : 10th February 1918
Fate : 1956 was detached to Malta for attacks on Egyptian airfields during the Suez operation. In April 1965, the Squadron was disbanded after the grounding

Trusty

Click the name above to see prints featuring aircraft of No.148 Sqn RAF

No.148 Sqn RAF

The squadron was formed at Andover Aerodrome on 10 February 1918, it moved to Ford Junction Aerodrome on 1 March 1918 where it was equipped with the Royal Aircraft Factory FE.2b and moved to France on 25 April 1918. squadron's outstanding operations was a low bombing attack on Rumbeke airfield on 20th May in which five direct hits were scored on hangars. Another notable raid was that made on Mons railway station on the night of 4th November. Two journeys were made; the second in a wind of gale force and in all 54x112-lb and 108x25-lb bombs were dropped. A number of awards, including 4 DFCs and 1 DFM, were made to the squadron It returned to the UK on 17 February 1919 and disbanded at Tangmere on 4 July 1919. In June 1937, No. 148 Squadron was re-formed at Scampton as a long-range medium-bomber unit. It was equipped with one Wellesley and six Audaxes at first, but in July some more Wellesleys arrived and the Audaxes were allotted away. It moved to Stradishall in March 1938, and in September was re-mustered as a heavy night-bomber unit and re-equipped with some Heyford Ills formerly used by No. 99 Squadron. Changing to Wellington Is in March 1939, and in July six Wellingtons took part in a mass flight of Bomber Command aircraft to Bordeaux Soon after the war had begun, No.148 moved to Harwell and, equipped with Wellingtons and Ansons, became a training squadron in No.6 Group. Early in April 1940, it was absorbed into No.15 OTU, later re-formed in Malta in December 1940 - again as a bomber squadron equipped with Wellingtons - taking part in the North African and Italian campaigns. After the war the Squadron moved to Egypt until 15 January 1946 when it was disbanded being reformed again in November 1946 with Lancasters which were replaced with Lincolns in January 1950. disbanded again on 1st July 1955. On 1st July 1956, it reformed at Marham with Valiants as part of the V-bomber Force and in October 1956 was detached to Malta for attacks on Egyptian airfields during the Suez operation. In April 1965, the Squadron was disbanded after the grounding of the Valiants.

No.216 Sqn RAF

Country : UK
Founded : 1st April 1918
Fate : The squadron was disbanded on 20 March 2014.

CCXVI dona ferens - 216 bearing gifts

Click the name above to see prints featuring aircraft of No.216 Sqn RAF

No.216 Sqn RAF

Number 216 Squadron can trace its roots to 'A' Squadron, RNAS, which formed at Manston on 5 Oct 1917 with four Handley Page 0/100s. After moving to Ochey in France as a strategic night bomber squadron, it was redesignated No. 16 Squadron, RNAS, on 8 Jan 1918. When the RAF was formed on 1 Apr 1918 was renumbered No. 216 Squadron, and soon afterwards became part of the Independent Force under Major General Trenchard flying Handley Page 0/400s. Between the two world wars the squadron used Vickers Vimy, Vickers Victoria and Vickers Type 264 Valentia aircraft on transport duties around the Middle East. During the Second World War, with a few exceptions, such as the attacks from 17 to 21 June 1940 by single aircraft of No. 216 Squadron on the airfields of El Adem and Tobruk,[1] the unit was principally a transport squadron, operating the Vickers Type 264 Valentia, Bristol Bombay, Vickers Wellington, Lockheed Hudson and Douglas Dakota. deployed to Greece from October 1944 to August 1946 as the primary transport unit for British forces involved in the Greek Civil War he Dakotas remained on strength until late 1949 when they were replaced by Valettas, and a move to Lyneham in 1955 was followed by introduction of the Comet jet transport in to RAF service a year later. Later versions of the Comet were flown until the Squadron was disbanded (for the first time) on 30 June 1975. After a brief reformation as a maritime strike squadron with Buccaneers in 1979-80, No. 216 Sqn was 'reactivated' (it was never officially disbanded) in its current form on 1 November 1984 at Brize Norton with Tristars. As a dual role tanker/transport squadron, No. 216 has been part of many of the UK's subsequent operations, and took a leading role in Operation Allied Force with three aircraft based in Italy in support of NATO aircraft. In 1984 the RAF purchased a further three Tristar 500s from Pan-Am. Of the three ex-Pan Am aircraft one was stored and the remaining two formed the backbone of the air trooping service to the Falkland Islands as Tristar C2s, carrying 267 passengers in an airline configuration. The stored aircraft was upgraded with military radios and avionics, becoming the C2A. No. 216 Squadron has deployed the Tristar fleet in support of many high profile missions including the Gulf War (for which it received a desert paint scheme,) Operation Allied Force (Kosovo,) Operation Veritas and Operation Herrick (Afghanistan) and Operation Telic (Iraq 2003), Operation Ellamy (Libya). The squadron was disbanded on 20 March 2014.

No.77 Sqn RAF

Country : UK
Founded : 1st October 1916
Fate : Disbanded 10th July 1963

Ease potius quam videri - To be, rather than seen

Click the name above to see prints featuring aircraft of No.77 Sqn RAF

No.77 Sqn RAF

No. 77 Squadron was formed on 1 October 1916 at Edinburgh, and was equipped with B.E.2 and B.E.12 aircraft. The squadron disbanded at RAF Turnhouse on 13 June 1919. In June 1937, No. 77 Squadron was re-formed at Finningley, Yorkshire, as a bomber unit. No. 77 was employed on reconnaissance and Security Patrols during the early months of the war and in the course of some of its Security Patrols dropped bombs on what appeared to be harbour and seaplane base landing lights at or near Borkum, Sylt and Nordeney. The spring of 1940 saw the squadron start bombing in earnest and during the period March to June it figured in several notable Bomber Command "firsts". On 19/2Oth March it took part in the first attack on an enemy land target (Hornum, on the island of Sylt); on 11/12th May it took part in the first big attack on the German mainland (the exits of Munchen-Gladbach); and on 11/12th June it took part in the first attack on Italy (primary target the Fiat works at Turin). No. 77 Squadron continued its offensive against enemy land targets until April 1941, and then, early in May, was posted to Chivenor, North Devon, for temporary duty with No. 19 Group, Coastal Command. From Chivenor the Whitleys were mainly employed on flying anti-submarine patrols over the Bay of Biscay and on 3rd September one of them attacked and sank with depth charges U-705. In October 1942, the squadron converted to Halifaxes at RAF Elvington, moving to RAF Full Sutton in May 1944. in addition to playing a prominent part in the bomber offensive, also participated in Bomber Command's highly-successful Gardening, or minelaying, campaign On 8 May 1945 the squadron joined Transport Command, and in July 1945 re-equipped with Douglas Dakotas. The squadron moved to Broadwell in August 1945 followed by a posting to India in October 1945. The squadron was disbanded by being renumbered as No. 31 Squadron on 1 November 1946. The squadron was again reformed - as 77(SM) Sqn. - on 1 September 1958 as one of 20 Strategic Missile (SM) squadrons associated with Project Emily. The squadron was equipped with three Thor Intermediate range ballistic missiles, and based at RAF Feltwell.

No.78 Sqn RAF

Country : UK
Founded : 1st November 1916
Fate : 78 Squadron was disbanded on 30 September 2014

Nemo non paratus - Nobody unprepared

Click the name above to see prints featuring aircraft of No.78 Sqn RAF

No.78 Sqn RAF

No. 78 Squadron was formed as part of the Royal Flying Corps on 1 November 1916 for home defence at Harrietsham and tasked with protecting the southern English coast. It was originally equipped with obsolescent BE2 and more modern BE12 fighters. changing to Sopwith 1½ Strutters in late 1917, followed by Sopwith Camels in mid-1918. It arrived at Sutton's Farm, under the command of Major Cuthbert Rowden, in September 1917 and was there until December 1919, with a detachment at Biggin Hill. The squadron disbanded on 31 December 1919 re-formed in 1936 as a heavy-bomber squadron and in the second world conflict served with the Yorkshire-based No.4 Group. Beginning operations with Whitleys in 1940, it converted to Halifaxes in 1942 and continued with that type of aircraft for the rest of the European war. Among the highlights of No. 78's war record was its participation in the historic 1,000-bomber raid on Cologne on 30/31st May 1942; the epic raid on Peenemunde on 17/18th August 1943; and the attack on the coastal gun battery at Mont Fleury on 5/6th June 1944, in direct support of the invasion of Normandy. In February 1941, No. 78 Squadron supplied the Whitleys and some of the crews (other crews were provided by No. 51 Squadron) which figured in Operation Colossus, the first Allied airborne operation of the war and the one in which British paratroops destroyed a large aqueduct at Tragino in southern Italy. From July to October 1942, No.78 Squadron was commanded by Wing Commander JB Tait, who later led the combined force of Lancasters from Nos. 617 (the squadron he then commanded) and 9 Squadrons which, using 12,000Ib Tallboy bombs, destroyed the Tirpitz in Tromso fjord. No. 78 flew, a total of 6,337 sorties comprising 6,017 bombing sorties and 320 minelaying sorties; made 302 bombing raids and bombed 167 different targets; dropped approximately 17,000 tons of bombs - 7,000 tons (i.e. more than a third of the total) between D-Day and VE Day; successfully laid 1,064 mines; and destroyed 31 enemy aircraft and damaged 35. The squadron's own losses totalled 182 aircraft. On 7th May 1945, No.78 Squadron was transferred from Bomber Command to Transport Command.converting to Dakotas, moved to Egypt. Here, No 78 took up route flying around the Mediterranean, North Africa and Middle East, receiving Vallettas in 1950, before disbanding at Fayid, Egypt at the end of September 1954. No 78 took up route flying around the Mediterranean, North Africa and Middle East, receiving Vallettas in 1950, before disbanding at Fayid, Egypt at the end of September 1954. On 24 April 1956, No 78 Squadron reformed, this time in Aden as a tactical transport unit equipped initially with Pioneers and then the larger Twin Pioneer. Detachments were undertaken all around the region, and it was felt that some sort of firepower capability should be added to the aircraft, and so guns were mounted in the rear entrance and missiles fitted under the wings. In 1962, the unit achieved what is believed to be the first firing of a guided missile by the RAF in an attack against rebel forces in Aden - quite an achievement for a transport squadron! No 78 Squadron was disbanded in December 1971. The Squadron reformed on 22 May 1986 when No. 1310 Flight, operating Boeing Chinooks, and the Westland Sea King HAR.3 equipped No. 1564 Flight merged at RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands Originally operating the Chinook HC.1, these were later replaced with HC.2s. From 1988 to 2007, No. 78 Squadron was the only RAF squadron permanently based in the Falkland Islands. The four Tornado F3s which provide air defence are operated by No. 1435 Flight, while No. 1312 Flight operated a single Vickers VC10 and one Lockheed Hercules C.3. n December 2007, No. 78 Squadron reverted to its previous identity of No. 1564 Flight and a new No. 78 Squadron formed at RAF Benson as part of the Joint Helicopter Command, flying the Merlin HC3 and the new Merlin HC3A helicopters purchased from Denmark. By 2008, the total fleet of twenty eight RAF Merlin helicopters will be operated in a pool with 28 (AC) Squadron, also based at RAF Benson 78 Squadron was disbanded on 30 September 2014
Aircraft for : Pilot Officer Bill Leckie, AEM, KW
A list of all aircraft associated with Pilot Officer Bill Leckie, AEM, KW. A profile page including a list of all art prints for the aircraft is available by clicking the aircraft name.
SquadronInfo

Catalina



Click the name above to see prints featuring Catalina aircraft.

Manufacturer : Consolidated
Production Began : 1936
Retired : 1957
Number Built : 3305

Catalina

Built by the Consolidated Aircraft Company and designed by Isaax M Ladden. the Catalina first flew on the 28th march 1935. and first flew with the US Navy in October 1936. In 1935 the cost of each Catalina was $90,000 and just over 4,000 were built. The Catalina was used in various maritime roles. but it was designed initially as a maritime patrol bomber. Its long range was intended to seek out enemy transport and supply ships. but was eventually used in many roles including Convoy escort,, anti submarine warfare and search and rescue. In its role as a search and rescue aircraft it probably is best remembered for many thousands of aircrews shot down in the Pacific and less extend in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The Catalina was the most successful flying boat of the war and even served in a military role until the early 1980's some are still used today in aerial firefighting.

Dakota



Click the name above to see prints featuring Dakota aircraft.

Manufacturer : Douglas
Production Began : 1941
Retired : 1970

Dakota

DOUGLAS DAKOTA, Transport aircraft with three crew and can carry 28 passengers. speed 230-mph, and a altitude of 23,200 feet. maximum range 2,100 miles. The Douglas Dakota served in all theatres of world war two, The Royal Air Force received its first Douglas Dakota's in April 1941, to 31 squadron which was serving in India. These were DC2, later DC3 and eventually C-47 Dakotas were supplied. The Douglas Dakota was developed from the civil airliner of the 1930's. The Royal Air Force received nearly 2,000 Dakotas, But many more than this served in the US Air Force and other allied countries. The last flight of a Douglas Dakota of the Royal Air Force was in 1970. You can still see Douglas Dakota's in operational and transport use across the world.

Halifax



Click the name above to see prints featuring Halifax aircraft.

Manufacturer : Handley Page
Production Began : 1941
Retired : 1952
Number Built : 6177

Halifax

Royal Air Force heavy Bomber with a crew of six to eight. Maximum speed of 280mph (with MK.VI top speed of 312mph) service ceiling of 22,800feet maximum range of 3,000 miles. The Halifax carried four .303 browning machine guns in the tail turret, two .303 browning machines in the nose turret in the MK III there were four .303 brownings in the dorsal turret. The Handley Page Halifax, first joined the Royal Air Force in March 1941 with 35 squadron. The Halifax saw service in Europe and the Middle east with a variety of variants for use with Coastal Command, in anti Submarine warfare, special duties, glider-tugs, and troop transportation roles. A total of 6177 Halifax's were built and stayed in service with the Royal Air Force until 1952

Stearman

Click the name above to see prints featuring Stearman aircraft.

Production Began : 1934
Retired : 0
Number Built : 10

Stearman

he importance of the Stearman PT-13/PT-17 to the US war effort cannot be overemphasized. Approximately 50% of all US military pilots, who fought in WW II received their initial flight training in this sturdy aircraft. A further 10,000 RAF and Fleet Air Arm pilots used the Stearman trainer for primary training, at British Flying Training Schools throughout the United States, between 1941 and 1944. 8,430 Stearmans were built before manufacturing ended in 1944. No other biplane was ever produced in such numbers. Over 1,000 Stearman trainers remain in flying condition today. The RCAF was supplied with 300 PT-17s in the summer of 1942, to expand its fleet of basic trainers. They served with No. 3 Flying Instructors’ School, Arnprior, Ontario and four Elementary Flying Training Schools, in the Prairies. After about four months they were traded n for Fairchild Cornells, because the open cockpit was found unsuitable for winter training. Many Stearmans are still flying today

Tigermoth



Click the name above to see prints featuring Tigermoth aircraft.

Production Began : 1932
Retired : 1947
Number Built : 8800

Tigermoth

The Royal Air Force last bi-plane, which served as a trainer from 1932 to 1947. Its design remained nearly the same throughout its history, and was well constructed and able to do aerobatics. A total of 8800 Tiger Moths were built which included 420 Radio Controlled Pilotless Target aircraft. (The Queen Bee). For the Royal Air Force. It was also used for a short period during the first months of world war two for coastal reconnaissance. Maximum speed 109 mph, Ceiling 14,000 feet, and can remain airborne for three hours.

Whitley

Click the name above to see prints featuring Whitley aircraft.

Manufacturer : Armstrong Whitworth
Production Began : 1937
Retired : 1942
Number Built : 1814

Whitley

The Whitley first entered service with No. 10 Squadron in March 1937, replacing Handley Page Heyford biplanes. By the outbreak of the Second World War, seven squadrons were operational, the majority flying Whitley IIIs or IVs, as the Whitley V had only just been introduced. ] With the Handley Page Hampden and the Vickers Wellington, Whitleys bore the brunt of the early fighting and saw action on the first night of the war, when they dropped propaganda leaflets over Germany.[8] Among the many aircrew who flew the Whitley in operations over Germany, was Leonard Cheshire who spent most of his first three years at war flying them. Unlike the Hampden and Wellington—which met specification B.9/32 for a day bomber—the Whitley was always intended for night operations and escaped the early heavy losses received in daylight raids on German shipping, early in the war. With Hampdens, the Whitley made the first bombing raid on German soil on the night of 19/20 March 1940, attacking the Hornum seaplane base on the Island of Sylt. Whitleys also carried out Operation Haddock the first RAF raid on Italy, on the night of 11/12 June 1940. As the oldest of the three bombers, the Whitley was obsolete by the start of the war, yet over 1,000 more were produced before a suitable replacement was found. A particular problem with the twin-engine aircraft, was that it could not maintain altitude on one engine. Whitleys flew 8,996 operations with RAF Bomber Command, dropped 9,845 tons (8,931 tonnes) of bombs and 269 aircraft were lost in action. From April 1942, the Whitley was retired as first-line bomber. It continued to serve as glider tug, paratroop trainer, transport, or radio countermeasures aircraft. It also played an important role in Coastal Command . No. 100 Group RAF used Whitleys to carry airborne radar and electronic counter-measures. In February 1942, Whitleys carried the paratroops who participated in the Bruneval raid (Operation Biting) in which German radar technology was captured from a German base on the coast of France. The British Overseas Airways Corporation operated 15 Whitley Mk Vs converted into freighters in 1942. Running night supply flights from Gibraltar to Malta, they took seven hours to reach the island, often landing during air attacks. They used large quantities of fuel for a small payload and were replaced in August 1942 by the Lockheed Hudson, with the 14 survivors being returned to the Royal Air Force. Long-range Coastal Command Mk VII variants, were among the last in front-line service, with the first kill attributed to them being the sinking of the German submarine U-751, on 17 July 1942, in combination with a Lancaster heavy bomber.

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