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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. L Ledger


Leslie Ledger, from Harpurhey, Manchester, was born on 10th January 1921, the son of John Robert Ledger and his second wife (he had been widowed), the former Martha Ramsbottom. In the 1921 census Mr Ledger is recorded as a “roller cover cotton spinning”. Leslie Ledger had a brother, sister and half brother.

In the 1939 Census he was recorded as a 'Knife & Die Maker' in Leicester.

He joined the RAF as an Aircrafthand in June 1939, he later remustered as an Airman u/t Air Gunner.

After completing his training he joined 236 Squadron on 19th July 1940 and served with it in the Battle of Britain. He later transferred to Bomber Command.

Ledger married Margaret Taylor in April 1942.

He was aboard Halifax B2 W1049 of 35 Squadron (operating from from Graveley, Huntingdonshire) on 8th June 1942 on a raid to Essen. W1049 was hit by flak over the target and later came down in the sea. The crew, including Ledger, were all able to take to the aircraft's dinghy.

279 ASR Squadron at Bircham Newton launched six Hudsons in two flights and R-Robert spotted the dinghy after about eight hours. It dropped its 'Lindholme Gear'* but the choppy conditions prevented the survivors from accessing it.

The Hudsons summoned RAF HSL 130 which picked up the survivors and landed them safely at Yarmouth (below).



The crew were F/Sgt. NW MacKenzie, P/O JR Field, Sgt. HH Sandford, Sgt. L Smith, Sgt. Richmond, F/Sgt. L Ledger and Sgt. JG Davis.

The wireless operator Sgt. Leslie Smith received the DFM for his role in the rescue, the citation reading:

'This wireless operator has participated in many attacks on enemy and enemy occupied territory. One night his aircraft was badly damaged by anti-aircraft fire and forced into the sea 50 miles off the English coast. It was due to the excellent wireless assistance given by this airman that the crew were rescued after only eight hours in the dinghy'.


Ledger was awarded the DFM (gazetted 12th January 1943).

The award seems to have been for continuous service rather than an individual incident.



Commissioned in November 1944, Ledger was released from the RAF in 1946 as a Flying Officer.

He died in Blackburn, Lancashire on 3rd September 1976.


*Lindholme Gear (also known as Air Sea Rescue Apparatus Mk.4) was developed at RAF Lindholme and consisted of five cylinder-shaped containers joined together by lengths of floating rope. The centre container would house a nine-man inflatable dinghy with the other containers housing survival equipment such as emergency rations and clothing. The 'Gear' would be carried in the weapons bay of the ASR aircraft and dropped in a long line up-wind of the survivors. The dinghy would inflate on impact and then drift towards the survivors. The survivors can then use the dinghy and haul in the containers of equipment and await rescue.

Additional research and HSL image courtesy of Andrew Bird (Coastal Dawn ISBN-10 1906502692).


Battle of Britain Monument