The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. L Pidd
Leslie Pidd, of Dunswell, near Hull, Yorkshire was born in Withernsea on 12th August 1918, the son of George Richard Pidd (1888-1965) and Hilda Pidd (nee Plowright). He was the youngest of five children.
His father was a ship's carpenter in the Merchant Navy and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (gazetted 12th May 1917) while serving aboard the ss Aracataca during an encounter with an enemy submarine off the Irish coast in March 1917. The official history of the Mercantile Marine takes up the story:
‘On 10th March, the Aracataca, on her way to Liverpool from Costa Rica, was nearing the Irish coast, when at 1 p.m. an enemy submarine opened fire upon her from astern. The Master (Mr. John H Scudamore) had carefully rehearsed his officers and crew for such an encounter, and returned fire with his 12-pounder, firing altogether 40 rounds in reply to 35 from the submarine. Three times the ship was hit, the second shot from the submarine passing through the firemen’s quarters, killing one man and injuring four others. Another shell struck the bridge, between the Master and the Second Officer, injuring the latter; the third passed through the funnel and wrecked the galley. The Master successfully dodged the remainder of the shots by his coolness and skilful navigation, noting the position of each splash, and zigzagging accordingly. He was well seconded by everyone on board, and in his report of the encounter he gave special praise to the Chief Steward for his first aid to the wounded, and to the two gunners, one of whom was the ship’s carpenter [Pidd], for their effective handling of the gun from a particularly exposed position. Some three-quarters of an hour after the attack commenced, a British war vessel arrived to give assistance, but already the submarine’s gun had been silent for some minutes, and the Aracataca had registered at least one hit. The merchant ship had out-manoeuvred and out-fought the submarine before help came to her.’
Leslie Pidd won a scholarship to the Spencer School in Beverley, on leaving he joined the RAFVR about December 1938 as an Airman u/t Pilot. The 1939 Census gave his trade as 'motor mechanic'.
Called up on 1st September 1939, he completed his training at 8 FTS Montrose.
His RAF record shows him going to 17 Squadron on 19th May however this cannot be correct as 17 Squadron were then in the process of withdrawing from France and Pidd had yet to fly anything other than training aircraft.
It is known that he arrived at 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 26th May 1940 to convert to Hurricanes. As the course was normally four weeks and he did not join 238 Squadron at Middle Wallop until 18th July this leaves a window of 22nd June to 17th July which he likely spent with 17 Squadron at Debden, though the details are currently unknown.
Pidd claimed a Me109 destroyed on 11th August two miles east of Weymouth. He returned to base after this combat with slight injuries and with his starboard wing and glycol system damaged.
On 15th September Pidd was shot down and killed in combat with He111s and Me110s over Kenley. His Hurricane, P2836, crashed into an oak tree at Kent College, Pembury.
Pidd is buried in St Peter's churchyard, Woodmansey, Yorkshire.
His older brother Stanley (below) also served in the RAF as a driver.
Below: Pidd is commemorated on his school war memorial, as is Sgt. JW Ramshaw, killed on 4th September serving with 222 Squadron.
The crash site at Pembury, Kent is marked by a plaque (below), the pupils of the college hold regular commemorations.