The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. L H Bartlett
Leonard Harold Bartlett was born on 20th June 1916 in Muswell Hill and educated at Woodhouse School, Finchley and the Northampton Institute in Islington. After leaving he worked as a buyer and salesman in a London meat wholesaler.
He joined the RAFVR in May 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot. Called up on 1st September 1939, he completed his training and joined 17 Squadron at Debden on 15th July 1940.
On 21st August Bartlett shared in the destruction of a Ju88, on 5th September he shared a He111 and on the 19th he shared a Ju88.
On 28th October Bartlett damaged a Do17, on 8th November he destroyed a Ju87 and probably a second and on the 11th he shot down a Ju87 and probably another..
On 17th March 1941 Bartlett was shot down over Chiddingly, Sussex, in Hurricane Z2704. He baled out and the aircraft crashed at Stream Farm.
Commissioned in July 1941, Bartlett was posted to 137 Squadron at Matlask in February 1942. On 6th July he damaged a Ju88 off Yarmouth in a Whirlwind.
In September 1942 he was given command of 253 Squadron at Hibaldstow. The squadron went to North Africa in November. Bartlett destroyed a Ju88 on 10th January 1943.
The squadron moved to Monte Corvino, Italy in October. Bartlett was posted away in January 1944 and was awarded the DSO (gazetted 3rd March 1944).
Bartlett was appointed military commander of the island of Vis, in the Adriatic, where an airfield had been constructed. He was given the US Legion of Merit for organising the rescue of USAAF crews who had ditched in the Adriatic Sea.
In 1945 Bartlett became Personal Staff Officer to the AOC Middle East. He later commanded 2 Squadron, flying Spitfires in the PR role, was the air defence specialist at the School of Land/Air Warfare, served in Aden and commanded the air defence early warning radar station at Bawdsey, Suffolk.
In 1965 he was one of the still serving Battle of Britain veterans, all Group Captains, who took part in Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral procession.
He retired from the RAF on 20th June 1966 as a Group Captain and went to live in Australia.
He died there on 11th February 2017.