The Airmen's Stories - P/O L N Landels
Leslie Ninian Landels was born in Durban, South Africa of Scottish parents and returned with them to Haddington, Scotland in 1914.
He joined the RAFVR in mid-1936 as an Airman u/t Pilot and trained under the expansion scheme.
Above: Landels standing far left at the de Havilland School of Flying at Hatfield, the course ran from 24th August 1936 until 11th December 1937.
On being called to full-time service he completed his training, was commissioned and then posted to No. 1 School of Army Co--operation in late August 1940 (above).
He must have volunteered for Fighter Command as he arrived at 6 OTU on 4th September, converted to Hurricanes and was posted to 32 Squadron on 21st September.
Landels moved to 3 Squadron on the 27th and to 615 at Northolt on 10th October.
After destroying a Me109 on 8th November he was shot down over Maidstone and made a crash-landing at Challock in Hurricane V7652, slightly injured.
Above: 615 Squadron in November 1940
On wing: Sgt. RH Smyth, Sgt. AR Moore
Standing: Adj. GC Perrin, F/O DGA Stewart, F/Lt. JRH Gayner, P/O NJ Wheeler, P/O JJ Walsh,
F/O CN Foxley-Norris, F/O PH Hugo, F/O A Eyre, P/O LN Landels, S/Ldr. JR Kayll
Kneeling: Adj. R Mouchotte, Sgt. ET Cosby
In the above photo Landels is walking with the aid of a stick after his 8th November crash.
In late 1941 Landels was posted to the Far East (below). He was made CO of 232 Squadron in Malaya in January 1942.
The Japanese attacked on the morning of 20th January 1942, the 64th Sentai, equipped with Oscars, escorting Ki-21s from the 12th and 60th Sentais, which were out to raid Seletar airfield.
Twelve Hurricanes from 232 Squadron scrambled from the field at 0700. They reached 28,0000ft and were ordered by Ground Control to attack the 80+ bombers that were some 8,000ft below them. The escorting Japanese fighters, which were at 22,000ft, saw the Hurricanes diving after the bombers and climbed to intercept them.
They were not seen until too late and Landels was shot down and killed by a Ki-43 flown by First Lieutenant Yonesaku Hatta. Landels’ Hurricane BM906 struck the mast of a Chinese fishing vessel before crashing into the sea. Hatta was shortly afterwards shot down and killed by Landels' number 2, P/O Parker.
Landels is remembered on the Singapore Memorial, Column 411 (below).
(Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Morford and Captain Robert L Koprowski, US Army (Veteran))
In 1948 his widow emigrated to New Zealand, their son David served in the Royal New Zealand Navy from 1957 until retiring in 1993 and kindly supplied additional data and the photographs above.