Leslie James

Photo:Leslie James aged 21 in 1941. The picture was taken in Blackpool where he joined the RAF.

Leslie James aged 21 in 1941. The picture was taken in Blackpool where he joined the RAF.

Leslie James

Photo:Leslie James pictured in the snow in Chatham in 2011.

Leslie James pictured in the snow in Chatham in 2011.

Leslie James

Photo:RAF Service and Release Book - Certificate of Service and Release.

RAF Service and Release Book - Certificate of Service and Release.

Leslie James

Recollections of life as a wireless operator in Devon.

Service in the RAF

When Leslie James was called up in 1940, he joined the RAF as a wireless operator. In the First World War, Leslie’s father had served as a Ground Crew Engineer for the Royal Flying Corps and Leslie was keen to follow in his father’s footsteps. As a wireless operator, Leslie was initially posted to RAF West Kingsdown as part of the ‘Y’ division. However, not before long Leslie was relocated to Strete in South Devon with two other airmen and a sergeant. Leslie recalls, ‘living and working in Devon, one felt a bit detached from the main theatre of war’.

A narrow escape

In Devon, Leslie was billeted with a local farmer and his wife near the RAF unit. Life in Devon was not always quiet. When two German aircraft carried out raids over the area, Leslie had a very narrow escape. Seeing a German aircraft from his bedroom window, Leslie was about to leave his room to seek shelter when he realised ‘[it] was too late to leave my room, although I had opened the door and was about to cross the threshold. Fortunately I had the presence of mind to step backwards, instead of forward when a canon shell came through the landing fanlight window and buried itself in the architrave of the wooden door’. Stepping forward would likely have resulted in a fatal injury.

Downloads

Letter written by Leslie James
Letter written by Leslie James (48k)
To read more about Leslie's wartime experiences please press the above link.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 24/04/2012.

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