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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. L Langley


Leonard Langley, one of six children, was born on 29th September 1914 in Walthamstow, his father was a wholesale fish merchant at Billingsgate.

He attended firstly Barrett Road Elementary School, Walthamstow and then Clark's College in the same area. Langley set up business as a butcher in Mile End Road.

At the outbreak of war he sold his business and joined the RAF on 18th September 1939 as an Airman u/t Air Gunner. After completing his training at Catterick Langley joined 23 Squadron, operating Blenheims at Collyweston, on 9th July 1940.

He was awarded the DFM (gazetted 30th May 1941), the squadron's first, being then credited with assisting in the destruction of three enemy aircraft at night.

He was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 1st April 1941.




Commissioned on 12th July 1941, Langley had by then retrained as a Radio Observer. He later qualified as a Navigator/Radar.

In early 1942 he was assigned to 125 Squadron and by early July 1942 the squadron was operating Beaufighters from Fairwood Common.

Langley volunteered for pilot training and was posted to 35 EFTS at Neepawa, Manitoba, Canada on 16th March 1943 and was promoted to Flight Lieutenant on 12th July 1943.

He returned to the UK on 25th May 1944 and was posted to RAF Rivenhall, near Braintree, Essex.

Langley was released from the RAF in August 1946 as a Flight Lieutenant. He rejoined on 21st October 1947.

During the late 1940s Langley underwent training in various aircraft at various flying schools including Barnstable, Biggin Hill, Finningley, Spitalgate, North Luffenham and Dishforth.

In August 1950 he was attached to the HQ of 22 Group at North Luffenham. In July 1952 he was posted to 242 OCU Colerne followed by a posting on 8th June 1953 to HQ Far East Air Force at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Four days later he was posted to 48 Squadron.

On 26th September 1953 he was captain of Valetta WD164 on a supply operation to troops in Northern Malaya. The aircraft crashed in thick fog near Bertram outside Kuala Lumpur. All eight men aboard were killed.

They were originally buried in a communal grave in Kota Bahru Cemetery but moved to Ulu Pandan in 1955 and finally to Kranji in 1975.

Also lost were:
F/Off JA Shillaker
F/Off RA Craddock
Sgt. RF De Rosa

Royal Army Service Corps personnel
Driver DA Jones
Driver JC Jones
Driver W Jones
Driver RH Muller


Additional research courtesy of Derek Britchford.



Above images courtesy of the Graham Saunders Archive.


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