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The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. W J Leather


William Johnson Leather was born on 22nd January 1913 and educated at Sedbergh School and Clare College, Cambridge, where he read Mathematics. He joined 611 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force in May 1936, one of the first two volunteers for pilot training.

Leather married Phyllis Victor Hickley in Taunton in April 1939.

He was called to full-time service with the squadron on 26th August 1939. He claimed a Me109 destroyed over Dunkirk on 2nd June 1940, shared in the destruction of a Do17 on 2nd July, claimed two Do17's destroyed on 15th September and shared in destroying two Do17's on 11th October.


Above: Leather (seated) with F/O PSC Pollard.

Below: his portrait was made by Sir William Rothenstein.



Leather was awarded the DFC (gazetted 8th October 1940). He shared in the destruction of Ju88s on 13th November and 7th December.

In January 1941 Leather was given command of 145 Squadron at Tangmere, which he led until April 1941, when he was posted to HQ 11 Group. He was on staff duties at Air HQ Far East and Air HQ India in 1942/43.

After returning to the UK he had staff jobs at HQ Fighter Command and HQ 12 Group. He was released from the RAF in 1945 as a Group Captain. When 611 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force was reformed on 10th May 1946, Leather was appointed to command and did so until 1949.

He died in March 1970 in Leicester.




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