Leslie Lissette RNZAF – Lancaster ND556

[av_heading heading=’Leslie Lissette RNZAF died in the crash, sacrificing his life for his crew.’ tag=’h3′ style=” subheading_active=” show_icon=” icon=’ue800′ font=” size=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” subheading_size=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” icon_size=” av-medium-font-size-1=” av-small-font-size-1=” av-mini-font-size-1=” color=” custom_font=” icon_color=” margin=” margin_sync=’true’ padding=’10’ icon_padding=’10’ link=” link_target=” id=” custom_class=” av_uid=’av-kwi7yotd’ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]

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This seventh episode deals with the crew of Lancaster ND556, EM-F for Freddie of No.207 Squadron.

The aircraft took off from RAF Spilsby during the night of 03/04 May 1944. Their target was the German tank training area of Mailly-le-Camp, a lethal danger for the troops that were to land in Normandy one month later. The aircraft was shot down by a German night fighter, killing the rear gunner. The skipper Warrant Officer Leslie Lissette RNZAF (who was the uncle of co-author Brian Lissette) remained behind the controls of the burning bomber until all crewmembers had bailed out. Then it was too late for him and Lissette died in the crash, sacrificing his life for his crew.

The crew members were from left to right: Warrant Officer L. H. Lissette RNZAF, Pilot, Killed and buried at Chaintreaux; Sergeant R. Ellis, Rear Gunner, Killed, also buried at Chaintreaux; Sergeant N. J. Stockford, Flight Engineer, who evaded via a different line and escaped to Spain; Sergeant P. N. King, Wireless Operator, who also escaped to Spain; Flight Sergeant J. Pittwood, Navigator, escaped to Spain; Sergeant R. T. Emeny, Mid Upper Gunner, who escaped to Spain with the earlier mentioned four airmen, and Sergeant L. Wesley, Bomb Aimer, who was arrested by the Gestapo, and instead of being a PoW, was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp as a spy.

He was saved by German ace Hannes Trautloft, who arranged for Wesley’s transfer to Stalag Luft 3 Sagan.

All were in the RAF, except for Warrant Officer Lissette, who was in the RNZAF.
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Lancaster ND530, LE-P for Peter of No.630 Squadron.

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This sixth episode deals with the crew of Lancaster ND530, LE-P for Peter of No.630 Squadron from RAF East Kirkby.

Pilot officer Len Barnes and his men took off on 15/16 March 1944. Their target was Stuttgart. The crew were Pilot Officer L. A. Barnes, Pilot who evaded capture and escaped to Spain; Sergeant K. A. Walker, Flight Engineer, who also evaded capture and was hidden by a French family until the liberation; Sergeant J. H. Overholt RCAF, Mid Upper Gunner, who was killed and buried at Saint Gilles; Sergeant T. A. Fox, Rear Gunner who was also killed and buried at Saint Gilles; Flying Officer M. Geisler, Navigator who became a PoW at Stalag Luft 1 in Barth; Sergeant G. E. Plowman, Wireless Operator who was a PoW at Stalag 357, Fallingbostel. Sergeant M. E. Gregg, Bomb Aimer, who also was a PoW at Stalag Luft 1, Barth).

All were RAF, except Sergeant Overholt, who was RCAF.

We will remember them !!!
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A young British mid-upper gunner

[av_heading heading=’Sergeant Ron Emeny RAF.’ tag=’h3′ style=” subheading_active=” show_icon=” icon=’ue800′ font=” size=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” subheading_size=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” icon_size=” av-medium-font-size-1=” av-small-font-size-1=” av-mini-font-size-1=” color=” custom_font=” icon_color=” margin=” margin_sync=’true’ padding=’10’ icon_padding=’10’ link=” link_target=” id=” custom_class=” av_uid=’av-kwi3xhk0′ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]

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The fifth of the group of evaders in Journey to the Horizon is Sergeant Ronald Thomas ‘Curly’ Emeny RAF. This young British mid-upper gunner flew in Lancaster ND556, EM-F for Freddie of No.207 Squadron. The squadron was stationed at RAF Spilsby.

F-Freddie was shot down during the costly raid against Mailly-le-Camp, a German Panzer training facility in France on 3/4 May 1944. Emeny was severely burned. His crew mate John Pittwood stayed with him in a crypt near Rossières. The local resistance found them. Pittwood was taken to Paris where he lost contact with Emeny, evading via other means. Due to his burns, Emeny had to stay behind until he had recovered or died; a grave had already been dug. Once he was fit, he went to Paris, where he met the four other airmen with whom he was to continue south.

From Paris he travelled to Bayonne by train, escorted by two members of Comète. During the night of 5/6 June, all five crossed into Spain and were briefly interned until their embassies moved them to Madrid and Gibraltar. Emeny landed in England on 25 June 1944. He dedicated his later life to his French friends and to the East Kirkby Aviation Museum. He died on 8th December 2001, leaving his wife Jess and family.

He was a great man and a loyal friend to his helpers in France. I am proud to have been his friend. Next time we will write about the two aircrew of the two Lancaster bombers and their fates and experiences.
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Shotdown over France and escaped to Spain – Len Barnes No. 630 Squadron RAF

[av_heading heading=’Pilot Officer Leonard Alfred Barnes RAF ‘ tag=’h3′ style=” subheading_active=” show_icon=” icon=’ue800′ font=” size=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” subheading_size=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” icon_size=” av-medium-font-size-1=” av-small-font-size-1=” av-mini-font-size-1=” color=” custom_font=” icon_color=” margin=” margin_sync=’true’ padding=’10’ icon_padding=’10’ link=” link_target=” id=” custom_class=” av_uid=’av-kwhy6q7x’ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]

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Our third hero from Journey to the Horizon is Pilot Officer Leonard Alfred Barnes RAF. He was a Lancaster pilot with No. 630 Squadron at East Kirkby. /

East Kirkby is the current home of the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre @RafHibaldstow (well worth visiting!!).
His Lancaster bomber ND530, P-Peter, was shot down during the night of 15/16 March 1944, returning from Stuttgart.

Len Barnes landed by parachute near Dravigny and was found by Rene Coigné, a member of the resistance. First hidden in Fère-en-Tardenois Len Barnes went to Paris to be handled by the Comète Line.

With the four other evaders there he was taken to the border between France and Spain.
On 4/5 June 1944, Barnes entered Spain and after a brief internment he was handed to the British embassy. Departed by plane from Gibraltar and arrived in England 25 June 1944. We will report later about the fate of his crew. Len Barnes was instrumental in the founding of RAFES, the organisation of former evaders. He was as an unassuming man, with a particular love for his wife Merville and his garden; the stuff that heroes are made of! He died in 1988.
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A rookie American fighter pilot

[av_heading heading=’2nd Lieutenant Jack Donald Cornett USAAF’ tag=’h3′ style=” subheading_active=” show_icon=” icon=’ue800′ font=” size=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” subheading_size=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” icon_size=” av-medium-font-size-1=” av-small-font-size-1=” av-mini-font-size-1=” color=” custom_font=” icon_color=” margin=” margin_sync=’true’ padding=’10’ icon_padding=’10’ link=” link_target=” id=” custom_class=” av_uid=’av-kwi0ijsd’ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]

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Our fourth hero is 2nd Lieutenant Jack Donald Cornett USAAF, a rooky American fighter pilot with No 375 Fighter Squadron of the 361 Fighter Group at Bottisham.

On his second mission flying P-47D Thunderbolt, 42-75219, E2-G with serial number 0-816632, his aircraft was hit by Flak while he was strafing Étampes-Mondés¬ir France on 27 April 1944. Jack force-landed near Arrancourt, south of Paris. Evading capture for a few days, he was found by loval Gendarme Marcel Dussutour and famer Lucien Pilian.

They helped him hide in a safe house. First the local resistance checked Cornett’s credentials and once satisfied they took him under their wings. He went to Paris and was handed over to the Comète Line. With four others, LtCol Hubbard, Major Willis, P/O Barnes and Sgt Emeny, he travelled to the Basque region of France and crossed the border on 6 June 1944.

After a few days of internment in Pamplona, he went to Alma de Aragon and Madrid. American embassy officials arranged for transport to Gibraltar. He reached England on 30 June 1944. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the USAF having seen action in Korea and Vietnam. He died in September 1986.

He was one of the braves who ran rather than surrendered!
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