PERSONALIA
 
Name:  Airey, Leslie (Service number: 1112525)
Date of birth: Unknown
Nationality:  British
     
CONSPICUOUS GALLANTRY MEDAL (CGM)
Rank: Sergeant
Unit: No. 101 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Awarded on: March 23rd, 1943
Action: Citation:
"On the night of 14th February, 1943, Pilot Officer Gates, Flight Sergeant Dove and Sergeants Williams, Bain and Airey were members of the crew of an aircraft captained by Sergeant Hazard, which was detailed to attack Milan. Whilst over the target area, the aircraft was attacked by an enemy fighter from -close range. Its gunfire exploded some incendiary bombs which had failed to release and a fire quickly developed in the bomber. The fuselage became a mass of flames reaching through the mid-upper turret manned by Flight Sergeant Dove. Ammunition in the turret boxes and ducts commenced to explode in all directions. In the face of an appalling situation, Flight Sergeant Dove coolly remained at his post. Although he was burned about the hands and face, he manned his guns with grim resolution, skill and accuracy. He delivered a devastating burst at the attacker, which had already been engaged and hit by the rear gunner and succeeded in destroying it. Disregarding the roaring flames, he then descended from his turret and went to the assistance of Sergeant Airey, the rear gunner, who had been wounded, and extricated him from the rear turret. The situation had become extremely critical and Sergeant Hazard ordered the crew to prepare to abandon aircraft. When informed that one of his comrades was helpless he decided, in spite of the grave risk entailed, to attempt a forced landing. Meanwhile, Pilot Officer Gates, assisted by Sergeants Williams and Bain bravely tackled the fire with extinguishers and succeeded in getting it under control. The aircraft was now down to 800 feet but, as the fire had subsided. Sergeant Hazard quickly decided to attempt to fly the badly damaged bomber home. He regained height and displaying fine airmanship crossed the Alps in safety, although 1 engine failed whilst so doing. On the remainder of the journey Pilot Officer Gates rendered valuable assistance to his captain and frequently ministered to his wounded comrade, although this necessitated clambering over a hole in the floor of the aircraft in darkness. Aided by the skilful navigation of Sergeant Williams and good work by Sergeant Bain, the flight engineer, Sergeant Hazard succeeded in flying the seriously damaged aircraft back to this C9untry. In circumstances of the greatest danger, this aircraft crew displayed-courage, fortitude and devotion, to duty in keeping with the highest traditions of the Royal Air Force."
Details: Simultaneously awarded to:
- Flight Sergeant George Dove
- Sergeant Ivan Hazard
- Sergeant William Williams
- Sergeant James Bain
The DSO was awarded to Pilot Officer Gates
 
 
 
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Information source(s):   - The London Gazette Publication date:19 March 1943 Issue:35949Page:1361
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