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Thread: Sgt Leonard Maiden (643941) 576 Sqn

  1. #11
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    hello,

    I was continuing my search, grabbing details from the London Gazette, because the ORB gave the service number of E. Bennett. Actually, he was killed in action merely a month after Sgt Leonard Maiden, during a raid against Calais, and his Lancaster (PD235 UL-N2) probably also came down in the Channel.

    Edward Bennett is buried in Boulogne-sur-Mer :
    http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=2278412
    as are 3 other members of his crew, two are now buried in Calais Canadian War Cemetery. Flight engineer F/O K.G. Playfoot was the only survivor. According to Chorley, he landed in enemy held territory but evaded capture. Actually I can't find him on the London Gazette, even when entering only his surname in the search box.

    According to http://www.walter9.info/RAFEW/assets/applets/576_Sq_Roll_of_Honour.pdf
    Playfoot initials were K.D.

    In the sample of ORB I have, I've found 4 entries for Sgt L.G. PLAYFOOD, flight engineer in F/O C.D. THIEME's crew (50527). That would account for the failure in finding him in the London Gazette. His rank might be F/Sgt rather than F/O in Chorley. I'll check that during my next visit to Kew, as I'll have to complete the ORB I've collected, up to september 1944. There's also a discrepancy between Chorley and CWGC, as for the date of that loss.

    PD235 was Bennett's regular Lancaster, and Sgt Maiden flew it often until he was killed in action.

    Joss
    Last edited by jossleclercq; 17th October 2009 at 08:06. Reason: adding informations

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    Default Re: Sgt Leonard Maiden (643941) 576 Sqn

    Hello, I am the nephew of Sgt L Maiden - my dad was his younger brother.

    Regarding the differing burial sites - I have heard the testimonies of people involved in the events via my late father who heard them from his parents (my grandparents & obviously the parents of Leon).

    My grandparents travelled to Marquise after the war - to visit Leon's grave & they actually met people who witnessed the Lanc & Leon's body. As I remember they spoke to a young French woman (a Jeanette Laverie) had seen Leon's body brought from a field to a nearby church, from where it was collected by the German forces. She told my grandparents that Leon's chute was only partially opened & that it was probable that he had bailed out too low & was killed in the fall.

    A French official (possibly the mayor?) had told my grandparents that the Lanc had been seen flying low & "jinking" to avoid rooftops/towers & had crashed on the beach further on from Marquise. This implies that someone was flying the Lanc.

    The testimony from the pilot was that the had lost consciousness & had come to floating down in his parachute. The conclusion was that in the chaos of a flack damaged Lanc losing height & injured pilot that the pilot was ejected for his own safety & that probably Leon as the flight engineer had steered the stricken Lanc over buildings to avoid civilian casualties, but bailed out too low to land safely & lost his life. One wonders if he had stayed with the Lanc he may have survived? The dead crew members were recovered from the Lanc & Leon was found by locals & taken to the church & laid out respectfully. The young French woman said that he looked peaceful & there wasn't a mark on him.

    I am saddened to learn that the pilot he flew with regularly, (F.O.E Bennett) also lost his life only a month later - such was the attricion rate of bomber aircrews.

    It is quite unnerving to see that in the flight records of 676 Sqn that his name appears in the flight logs for the crew of N2 PD235 after his death! - Obviously his name had not been removed from the crew listings? Which obviously leads to the question who was the Flight engineer on those missions?

    I would like to thank all involved in contributing to this post & ask who was the family member that enquired in 2009?
    Last edited by Maiden_S; 29th October 2021 at 17:59. Reason: correcting typo & adding name

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    Default Re: Sgt Leonard Maiden (643941) 576 Sqn

    Hi, and welcome to the forum. Since I was responsible for the thread I should be able to answer your question, but unfortunately I cannot. I'm afraid that not only have the intervening 12 years completely wiped the details from my memory, but my archived emails only go back to 2010. Although I appear to have emailed the person concerned several times he never once responded (#10).

    I can only apologise.

    Best wishes

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 30th October 2021 at 10:10.

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    Default Re: Sgt Leonard Maiden (643941) 576 Sqn

    Hello

    I can only concur with what Brian expresses, as I was deeply interested in this case, and I'm still.

    I've eventually located the crash site of that Lancaster, not in the Channel just off Ambleteuse, as most secondary sources were saying, but inland of Ambleteuse. This explains why 2 members of the crew were temporarily buried in Ambleteuse communal cemetery, and transferred postwar to the Calais Canadian War Cemetery, because they were members of the Royal Canadien Air Force.

    I'd be interested to get in touch with you by e-mail. Mine is in my profile.

    Joss

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    Default Re: Sgt Leonard Maiden (643941) 576 Sqn

    Thank you Brian & Joss for you prompt responses.

    I have learned more in the past few days about my uncle Leon's last days in the RAF than in all the previous years of story telling from family members.

    What prompted my enquiry here was an Internet search for Lanc LM439 from 576Sqn & L.Maiden. This led me to this thread, whereupon I accessed the TNA records for theses missions via a link on the thread.

    I had moved an old book - "Lancaster by M. Garrett & B. Goulding & inside the book were some photocopies of a letter from Geoff Newbould, a childhood friend of both my father & Leon.
    He had contacted the RAF Air Historical Branch in June 1992 enquiring about the loss. The RAF replied with what is now clearly inaccurate info - that the Lanc was the only loss out of a raid of 309 aircraft on a mission to bomb an oil plant at Wanne-Eikel in Germany. It then states that the Lanc crashed near Wemars-Capel France. This obviously led to much confusion, as Geoff pointed out how could the Lanc crash so far from the target of Wanne-Eikel!
    The report is stated as not mentioning the oil plant, but that the Hanibal Coal Mine was destroyed, killing 57. The report then states that the circumstances leading the the loss are unknown.
    In the past few days, thanks to your research I have learnt that it was a 4 aircraft raid on a V1 site, that heavy flak caused damage to all aircraft & that LM439 crashed probably as a result of flak damage.
    As a schoolboy I had imagined my uncle Leon's flights in a Lanc as night missions & upon examining his log book after my fathers death, was surprised to see how much of his flying was daytime missions - probably due to lack of Luftwaffe fighters after D-Day? The flight records obtained from TNA have been a real insight into his time in the RAF, albeit a short one & I find it particularly ironic that having met his end with probably an unknown crew, his regular crew perished only a month later, but their flight engineer survived!

    BTW my dad served as ground crew in Burma with a Hurricane fighter bomber Sqn that re-equipped with P47's. He did basic training at Blackpool & then was posted to Waddington when they had Manchesters! He then was posted overseas to India, then via what is now Pakistan, through the Himalayas to Burma.

    I'll look & see if there are any references to that Sqn here too.

    I will add my e-mail to my profile if you wish to contact me - I'll look out for any e-mails & reply promptly.

    Thanks again to all contributors to this thread, regards Steve.

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    Default Re: Sgt Leonard Maiden (643941) 576 Sqn

    Hello, I am the nephew of Sgt L. Maiden & have a favour to ask of anyone who can help me - does anyone know if the operation debriefs from the returning crews that flew on the last mission of my late uncle have been digitised & are available to view? - if so where could I view them?

    His last mission was: 576Sqn on 18/08/1944. Target: Wemars Capelle

    Lancasters:


    UL-J2 PD400


    UL-G2 LM294


    UL-W2 ME800


    UL-N2 LM439 - this Lanc failed to return

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    Default Re: Sgt Leonard Maiden (643941) 576 Sqn

    Not really relevant I know, but sobering to realise that of the three other Lancasters you quote, two had been lost by the end of the month:

    UL-J2 PD400 - actually PB400, lost on 26/27 August on a raid to Kiel (1 killed, 6 POW)
    UL-G2 LM294 - survived the war
    UL-W2 ME800 - lost on 29/30 August on a raid to Stettin (7 evaded)

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