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[Home] [Profiles 103 Sqn A to M] [Leggett and Gore 103 Sqn]

F/L Tom Leggett RAFVR and P/O Phil Gore DFM RAFVR - 103 Squadron - RAF Elsham Wolds - 1944.

Failed to Return - 24th May 1944 - Avro Lancaster III - ND925 - Op Aachen

Also

Damaged by Incendiary Bombs Dropped from Above - 24/25th April 1944 - Avro Lancaster III - ND638 – Op Karlsruhe.

103 Squadron Leggett and Gore

Left - Tom Leggett. Right - Phil Gore.

In May 2004 Philip Gore from Doncaster, along with members of the family of Flight Lieutenant Thomas G Leggett RAFVR, attended a private wreath laying ceremony at the little church cemetery at Eggewaartskapelle, 6 km south east of Veurne in Belgium.

Philip was mid upper gunner and sole survivor of Tom Leggett's crew who were shot down on the night of the 27/28th May 1944 and crashed 3 km from the village. The party then travelled on to Coxyde Military Cemetery to pay their respects to the 7th member of this crew, Flying Officer Vic Jones RAFVR who rests there. Tom Leggett's crew were first posted to 460 Sqn early in the year and had flown 5 operations with this unit including 3 in the famous Lancaster, G - George, which is now on permanent display in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. The crew were transferred to 103 Sqn on 15th March.

On the 24th April, during an operation to Karlsruhe, this crew were fortunate to survive when, whilst over they target, their aircraft was hit by incendiary bombs dropped from an aircraft above. This seriously damaged their Lancaster (ND638) and rendered it temporarily uncontrollable. Tom Leggett ordered the crew to prepare to bale out. Fortunately, after a considerable loss of height, Tom, with the help of the Engineer, Sergeant Bill Edwards, was able to regain control, albeit with great difficulty. The order to prepare to bale out was rescinded but, in the confusion of the incident, the mid upper gunner, Flying Officer J G Apostilides, had already left the aircraft. On return to Elsham the Lancaster was found to be so badly damaged it was written off as beyond economical repair. The fact that the aircraft got back to Elsham Wolds at all is a testament to the flying skills and determination of Tom Leggett and the resilience of his crew. F/O Apostilides became a prisoner of war at Stalag 3 Sagan.

Philip Gore was a commissioned second tour Air Gunner at Elsham at the time and had been flying operations with 103 Sq as a "Spare Bod". He was offered and accepted the role of permanent replacement to Flying Officer Apostilides and flew as mid upper gunner in Tom Leggett's crew until they were sadly lost.

On the night of the 27/28th May 44 the crew took part in a raid on Aachen. They were badly shot about by a night fighter and severely damaged. They returned across Belgium but were engaged by light flak and received further damage which was now clearly terminal. With the Lancaster now well ablaze Tom Leggett gave the order to bale out.

Philip Gore left his turret and checked the rear gunner, Vic Jones, who had given a damage report to the pilot from his turret moments before. Unable to get a reply from the rear turret he rightly assumed that Vic Jones had already left the aircraft. Philip had considerable difficulty opening the side door which was only dislodged by one last desperate heave as the aircraft started to bank to port. The aircraft went inverted but he managed to scramble out of the side door with some difficulty and landed safely by parachute. The aircraft crashed soon after and exploded in a ball of fire near Eggewaartskapelle.

Vic Jones did leave the aircraft but was later found dead on the ground some distance from the crash with his parachute unopened. Interestingly, prior to volunteering for air crew, Vic Jones had been a police constable in the London Metropolitan Force which was of course a reserved occupation.

Philip was helped to evade by local people but was later captured in civilian clothes and sent to a civilian prison where he was interrogated by the Gestapo for some weeks. He was not aware of the fate of his crew mates. As Montgomery advanced across France and into Belgium he, along with numerous other inmates, was evacuated to a POW camp at Barth in Germany where he was subsequently liberated by the Russians. Philip returned to the UK in May 1945.

Leggett Tour.

This crew had flown five ops with 460 Sqn before being posted to 103 Sqn whose tour is shown below.

18-Mar-44 - Frankfurt - Lancaster - JB655 - F/O TG Leggett

22-Mar-44 - Frankfurt - Lancaster - ND420 – F/O TG Leggett

24-Mar-44 - Berlin - Lancaster - JB655 -F/O TG Leggett

26-Mar-44 - Essen -  Lancaster - ND638 – F/O TG  Leggett

30-Mar-44 - Nuremberg - Lancaster - ND638 - F/O TG Leggett

11-Apr-44 - Aachen -  Lancaster - ND638 – F/O TG Leggett

20-Apr-44 - Cologne - Lancaster - ND638 – F/O TG Leggett

24-Apr-44 - Karlsruhe - Lancaster - ND638 – F/O TG Leggett - Extensively damaged by incendiaries from above, while over the target and control was lost at this point During the dive before the pilot could regain control the mid upper gunner baled out. Aircraft damaged beyond repair.

Flying Officer J G Apostilides - Mid upper gunner - 103 Sqn - POW - Camp L3 - POW no N/K

26-Apr-44 - Essen - Lancaster - ND925 – F/O TG Leggett

27-Apr-44 - Friedrichshafen - Lancaster – ND925 – F/O TG Leggett

01-May-44 - Lyons -  Lancaster - ND925 – F/O TG Leggett

03-May-44 - Mailly-le-Camp - Lancaster – ND925 – F/O TG Leggett

06-May-44 - Aubigne Racan - Lancaster – ND624 – F/L TG Leggett

19-May-44 - Orleans - Lancaster - ND925 – F/L TG Leggett

21-May-44 - Duisburg - Lancaster - ND925 – F/L TG Leggett

22-May-44 - Dortmund - Lancaster – ND925 – F/L TG Leggett

24-May-44 - Aachen - Lancaster - ND925 -  F/L TG Leggett

27-May-44 - Aachen - Lancaster - ND925 -  F/L TG Leggett - FTR - Flak victim. Crashed near Eggevaartskapelle, Belgium

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F/L Thomas Gordon Leggett RAFVR – Pilot – 23 – 103 Sqn - Son of Alfred Thomas and Eva Leggett, of Mossley Hill, Liverpool – Eggewaartskapelle Churchyard, Belgium.

103 Squadron - Edwards

Sgt William Austin Edwards RAFVR ( Pictured above ) – Flight Engineer – 20 – 103 Sqn - Son of William Aubrey and Theresa Catherine Edwards, of Canton, Cardiff - Eggewaartskapelle Churchyard, Belgium.

F/O Arthur Alexander Wilks RAFVR – Air Bomber – 32 – 103 Sqn - Son of Arthur and Jessie M. Wilks of Oxford; husband of Gwendoline Wilks, of Oxford - Eggewaartskapelle Churchyard, Belgium.

F/O Raymond Henry Beer RAFVR – Navigator – 21 – 103 Sqn - Son of Albert Henry and Daisy Beer, of Newport, Monmouthshire - Eggewaartskapelle Churchyard, Belgium.

103 Squadron - Ireland

F/S Lawrence Ireland RAAF ( Pictured above ) – 20 – 103 Sqn - Son of William Francis and Ellen Ireland - Eggewaartskapelle Churchyard, Belgium.

P/O Philip Gore DFM RAFVR – Air Gunner – 103 Sqn – POW - Camp L1 – POW no 4792.

103 Squadron - Jones

F/O A V M Jones RAFVR ( Pictured above as a policeman prior to enlistement ) – Air Gunner – 26 - 103 Sqn Son of James and Beatrice Mary Jones; husband of Betty Jones, of Dover – Coxyde Military cemetery, Belgium.

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Claim by Maj Wilhelm Herget - Stab I/NJG4 - West of Vlissingen in sea (LG 1): 3,800m at 03:17. Per John Jones

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27-May-44 - Aachen

103 Squadron detailed 12 aircraft for this attack on the railway yards at the German city of Aachen. Weather for take off was excellent and all aircraft took off safely. Weather continued good throughout the whole route with good visibility. The target was hazy and on return to base the visibility was poor but 10 aircraft landed safely. At the target flak was reported as slight but quite a lot of fighters were observed. A new method of bombing was employed. On the last leg into the target the aircraft dived at 1400 ft per minute to bomb at 10000 ft. The Musical Paramatta technique of marking was employed by the Pathfinders. Bombing was from between 10000 ft to 16000 ft. A spoof attack on Dusseldorf was laid on and was quite successful but searchlights were showing enemy fighters the main bombing stream. F/L Allwood was chased by a rocket. F/O Broadbent had an encounter with an enemy fighter. Gunners opened fire but no claim was made. The fighter did not return to the attack. S/L Ollier and crew and F/L Leggett and crew are missing from this operation.

For this attack on the Rothe Erde railway yards at Aachen Bomber Command detailed a total of 162 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 3 and 8 Groups. 12 Lancasters lost, 7.0 per cent of the force. The railway lines at the yards, which were not seriously hit in the raid of 2 nights earlier, were now severely damaged and all through traffic was halted. A large proportion of delayed-action bombs were dropped. The local people were impressed that the whole raid only lasted 12 minutes.

….......

Lancaster – ND925

This machine was lost on its 11th operation.

26-Apr-44 - Essen - Lancaster - ND925 - F/O TG Leggett

27-Apr-44 - Friedrichshafen - Lancaster - ND925 -  F/O TG Leggett

01-May-44 - Lyons - Lancaster - ND925 - F/O TG Leggett

03-May-44 - Mailly-le-Camp - Lancaster - ND925 - F/O TG Leggett

10-May-44 - Heligoland Bight - Lancaster - ND925 - F/O WH Way RCAF

11-May-44 - Hasselt - Lancaster - ND925 - F/O E Broadbent - Bombed last resort target

19-May-44 - Orleans - Lancaster - ND925 - F/L TG Leggett

21-May-44 - Duisburg - Lancaster - ND925 - F/L TG Leggett

22-May-44 - Dortmund - Lancaster - ND925 - F/L TG Leggett

24-May-44 - Aachen - Lancaster - ND925 -  F/L TG Leggett

27-May-44 - Aachen - Lancaster - ND925 -  F/L TG Leggett - FTR - Flak victim. Crashed near Eggevaartskapelle, Belgium

….......

Lancaster - ND638

26-Mar-44 - Essen - Lancaster - ND638 – F/O TG Leggett

30-Mar-44 - Nuremberg - Lancaster - ND638 – F/O TG Leggett

09-Apr-44 - Villeneuve-St-George - Lancaster - ND638 – P/O SL Rowe RAAF

10-Apr-44 - Aulnoye - Lancaster - ND638 – P/O SL Rowe RAAF - Combat. Successfully evaded

11-Apr-44 - Aachen - Lancaster - ND638 – F/O TG Leggett

18-Apr-44 - Rouen - Lancaster - ND638 – P/O TE Astbury

20-Apr-44 - Cologne - Lancaster - ND638 – F/O TG Leggett

24-Apr-44 - Karlsruhe - Lancaster - ND638 – F/O TG Leggett - Extensively damaged by incendiaries from above, while over the target. Aircraft damaged beyond repair

Item compiled and written by David Fell. Photos of Leggett, Gore and Edwards courtesy of the respective families. I seem to recall the photos of Ireland and Jones came from a Belgian source many years ago. Also John Jones.

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