The Airmen's Stories - P/O L W Collingridge
Leon William Collingridge was born on 25th August 1920. He joined the De Havilland Aircraft Company as an apprentice in 1938. On 1st May 1939 he joined the RAF on a short service commission.
After completing his elementary flying training at 6 E&RFTS Sywell, he was posted to 8 FTS Montrose on 8th July. Collingridge joined 66 Squadron at Duxford on 3rd February 1940. In combat with He111's on 29th July his Spitfire, N3402, was hit by return fire and he crashed on the beach at Orfordness, sustaining injuries.
Admitted to Ipswich Hospital, Collingridge later went to convalescence at the Palace Hotel, Torquay, after which he rejoined 66, then at Biggin Hill.
On 16th November 1941 Collingridge was posted to CFS Upavon for an instructor's course. He instructed on Masters and Tutors at 9 FTS Hullavington from 12th January to 22nd March 1942 and then at 5 FTS Tern Hill until 26th August 1943, when he was posted to Canada.
Collingridge instructed at 41 SFTS Weyburn, 37 SFTS Calgary and 34 SFTS Medicine Hat. In December 1944 he did a course at 2 FIS Pearce and then instructed at 10 SFTS Dauphin and 18 SFTS Gimli.
He returned to the UK in October 1945 and was posted to the staff of 17 Reserve Centre, Rattlesden moving later to 16 RC Sudbury.
He received a Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air (gazetted 1st January 1946) for his service at 18 SFTS Gimli, Manitoba, the citation read:
This officer has been on instructional duties for over three and a half years. Throughout this period he has, by his keenness and outstanding devotion to duty, been responsible for a very high standard of training in the pupils who have graduated from his squadron.
From June 1946 to April 1949 Collingridge was with 607 Squadron at Ouston. He served in a number of flying and instructional appointments before his retirement on 25th August 1963 as a Flight Lieutenant, retaining the rank of Squadron Leader.
Collingridge was made an MBE (gazetted 2nd June 1962).
He died in October 1993 in Biggleswade.