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The Airmen's Stories - S/Ldr. R H A Leigh


Rupert Henry Archibald Leigh was born on 14th May 1912 and educated at Cheltenham College (below). He entered the RAF College Cranwell in January 1930 as a Flight Cadet. He represented the college at rugby, tennis, squash and hockey.


Above image courtesy of Cheltenham College.


On graduation on 18th December 1931 Leigh was granted a permanent commission and then posted to 57 Squadron at Netheravon.


Above: Leigh married in August 1942.


On 4th September 1932 Leigh went to RAF Gosport for instruction and on 8th May 1933 joined 810 (Fleet Torpedo-Bomber) Squadron, based at Gosport and at sea on HMS Courageous.

Leigh went as an instructor to No. 1 FTS Leuchars on 13th July 1936 and joined the staff at CFS Upavon on 16th August 1937. He was a Flight Commander there in October 1939.

On the 18th he tested Douglas Bader to assess his capability for flying duties. The test was carried out in a Harvard which was equipped with toe brakes which Bader would be unable to operate with his artificial legs. Leigh operated these for him knowing that on operations Bader would be flying Spitfires or Hurricanes which were fitted with hand operated brakes.

On 7th April 1940 he joined 66 Squadron as a supernumerary Squadron Leader at Duxford. He assumed command of the squadron on the 9th.

He shared in the destruction of a He111 on 12th May 1940, destroyed a He111 on 9th September, shared in the destruction of another on the 11th and damaged a Me109 on 13th October.

Leigh was posted to HQ 12 Group on 18th October on administrative duties. He was appointed Acting Wing Commander on 4th November with effect from 20th October 1940.

He returned to operations in May 1941, taking command of 23 Squadron at Ford. He was posted away in December.



Leigh retired from the RAF on 7th December 1954 as a Group Captain, retaining the rank of Air Commodore.

During the war years he received five Mentions in Despatches.

He died on 1st February 1991.



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