Leonard Daniels

Wartime memories of service life in the RAF.

The war began when Leonard was a 16 year old boy living in Dulwich. Evacuated at the start of war, Leonard recalls the evacuation as an amusing experience. Sent by bus to Sandling, Kent, the local villagers met the evacuees in the Village Hall. The local villagers, Leonard explains, were expecting young children escaping the plagued East End but got more than they bargained for when a large group of teenage lads arrived.

A fascination for flying

Eventually, once 18, Leonard joined the Royal Air Force. He recalls a desire of wanting to fly and a fascination for the new airplanes, a desire, he believes, he shared with many other boys. Having volunteered in 1941, he was accepted for air crew as a trainee pilot and eventually taken in for training. In time Leonard was posted for training in Canada. As training commenced the men were taught how to fly small aircrafts like Tiger Moths. After experiencing some trouble flying the larger aircrafts, Leonard qualified as a bomber aimer.  

Crew life

Once Leonard completed the course he was posted back to England. The last training phase was the Operational Training Unit which assembled different members of the crew. The gathering of the crew was a vital part of the training as, Leonard recalls, ‘you had to work together as a team’. The crew lived in a hut and became great friends. As a crew your lives relied on each other which, Leonard believes, gave it a different feel from the army.

Each crew remained together for one tour which consisted of 30 operations which was followed by a rest period of four or five months. The crew was then split up and the process of assembling a new crew had to start over again. Leonard’s crew completed their tour just after D-day and he was then posted back to the training unit where he took up the role as an instructor, lecturing on the theory of bombing, until a new crew was organised. But before the new crew was sent on its first operation the war ended.

The end of war

The end of the war was not altogether a happy period for Leonard. After his time in the services he had lost all desire to go into further education and he had no prospect of becoming a farmer. Leonard recalls how he had got used to life in the forces and the comradeship it brought. He enjoyed having a purpose, to fight and win the war. When this was taken away he felt lost.

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Leonard Daniels
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This page was added by Malin Lundin on 16/01/2012.

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