Image from the Evening Star – 15th December 1943.
John is not remembered on the war memorial at Christchurch Park.
Born: 2nd October 1921, Thornton Heath, Surrey.
Died: 24th October 1943; age: 22; Drowned when aircraft crashed at Ponza Island, Italy.
Residence: 22, Great Colman Street, Ipswich.
Occupation: a Chartered Accountant.
Rank: Sergeant/Navigator; Service Number: 13211339.
Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 150 Squadron.
Relatives Notified & Address: Only son of Horace Edward & Matilda Kate Leach; husband of Thirza Mary Leach, of Ipswich.
Father: Horace Edward Leach, born May 1895, Chelsea, Middlesex.
Mother: Matilda Kate Leach (nee Gammage), born February 1898, Ipswich.
John was a member of the 17th Croydon Scouts.
ENGLAND & WALES REGISTER 1939.
John was an Audit Clerk – Travelling. He was living with his parents & sister at their family home – 36, Torridge Road, Croydon, Surrey.
Edward, a Wholesale Drapers – Traveller. During the Second World War Edward was an Air Raid Precaution Warden.
Matilda, unpaid Domestic Duties.
Barbara P.S. Leach, a Draper’s Assistant, born June 1920, Ipswich.
In 1943, Ipswich, John married Thirza Mary Wright, born December 1924, Ipswich, of 60, Rushmere Road, Ipswich. A Ledger Clerk.
24th October 1943
Aircraft: Vickers Wellington; Serial Number: X LN322 (N); Mission: to carry out a bombing mission on the railway marshalling yards at Pistoia on the night of 24th / 25th October 1943. The aircraft took off from Kairouna West / Allani airfield in Tunisia at 19.37hrs on the 24th. It is believed to have reached its target but suffered engine failure on the return flight resulting in it having to ditch in the sea off the island Pantelleria between Sicily and North Africa.
Richard Bernard James March; Sergeant; age 22; R.A.F.V.R.
G.A. Bluhm; Sergeant/Pilot. Survived.
E.N. Turner; Sergeant. Survived.
J.P.R. Des Jardins; Sergeant; R.C.A.F. Survived.
The body of Richard March was never found, and he is commemorated on the Malta War Memorial.
Turner, Des Jardins and Bluhm survived the ditching, and spent six days in a dinghy before being rescued.
Aircraft help courtesy of John Allan.