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The Airmen's Stories - P/O D C Leary


David Cooper Leary was born on 9th May 1921 in Wandsworth, London, the son of Frank Cooper Leary (1881-1942) and Ruth Winifred Leary (nee Harris 1885-1941).

His father was from Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand but his grandfather Richard Henry Leary (1840–1895) died in Tunbridge Wells, Kent implying the family was of British origin.

DC Leary attended Hitherfield School, Streatham and then Alleyns School in Dulwich from 1932 to 1938.

He was a talented artist and attended St. Martins School of Art before joining the RAF on a short service commission in August 1939.

He completed his training, went to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 18th May 1940 to convert to Hurricanes and joined 17 Squadron on 25th May.


Above (L to R): F/O HAC Bird-Wilson, P/O DC Leary, Sgt. DA Sewell, S/Ldr. CW Williams, P/O DH Wissler, P/O JK Ross.


He went to France with the squadron on 5th June, operating from Dinard and Le Mans. On 9th June, on a patrol over Rouen, his engine failed and he made a forced landing. He was arrested but shortly afterwards was released.

On 12th June Leary claimed a Me109 destroyed and on the 13th another one damaged. The squadron was withdrawn on the 17th, reaching Tangmere on the 19th.

Leary destroyed a Me109 on 25th August, got a probable Me110, shared another and a Do17 on 3rd September, destroyed a Me110 and probably another on the 27th, got a probable Do17 on the 28th, destroyed two Ju87s and shared two on 8th November and damaged a Do17 on the 13th.

Leary was awarded the DFC (gazetted 26th November 1940).

He was killed on 28th December 1940 when he crashed near Debden, in fog and low cloud, in Hurricane V6791.

He was 19 and is buried in Ipswich Cemetery, Suffolk.






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