Image from the Evening Star – 1st September 1943.

Photograph courtesy of Jonathan.


Born: 26th September 1910, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire.

Died: 10th August 1943; age: 32; Died of Injuries received on the 9th August – struck a propeller when abandoning aircraft at Vollmersbach, Germany.

Residence: 24, Ascot Drive, Ipswich.

Occupation: a Confidential Chief Clerk & Assistant to Plant Engineer – Cranes Ltd, Ipswich.


Received commission on the 20th July 1942 – Pilot Officer on probation.

Promoted on the 20th January 1943 – Flying Officer.


Rank: Flying Officer/Air Bomber; Service Number: 127292

Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 102 Squadron.

Aircraft: Halifax mark II JD408 


Grave Reference:


Rheinberg War Cemetery,



Relatives Notified & Address: Eldest son of Benjamin William & Ethel Eliza Bays, of Broomhill Road, Ipswich; husband of Bessie Florence Bays, of Ipswich.




1911   Victoria Street, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire.


Leslie was 6 months old and living with his parents.

Benjamin William Bays, 23, a Draughtsman – Hoisting Machine & Mining Machine – Engineering.

Ethel Eliza Bays (nee Bunn), 26, born Christchurch, Cambridgeshire.


Leslie was educated at Northgate School, Ipswich.


In 1931, Ipswich, Leslie married Bessie Florence Barker, born December 1910, Ipswich, daughter of William Barker, a thrashing machine erector, and Kate Barker (nee Reeve), of 12, Alexandria Road, Ipswich.

They had 2 children.




Leslie, a Confidential Chief Clerk & Assistant to Plant Engineer & Bessie were living at their family home at 24, Ascot Drive, Ipswich, with their two children, and Phyllis Lilian & George Alfred Wendon, a Lloyd’s Underwriter – Account’s Clerk.


Probate to Bessie Florence Bays – widow.


9th August 1943

Aircraft: Handley Page Halifax; Serial Number: JD408; Code: DY/R; Operation: Mannheim. The city was an important industrial centre for Nazi Germany.

Took-off at 22:50hrs from R.A.F. Pocklington, Yorkshire. The aircraft was badly damaged during the attack, and the crew abandoned the aircraft before it crashed in a meadow in Vollmersbach. The shooting down of JD408 was claimed by a German night fighter pilot – Oberleutnant Johannes Engelsbach.


Frederick Arthur Sherrington; Flight Sergeant/Air Gunner; age 25; R.A.F.

John Burdon; Pilot Officer/Flight Engineer; age 22; R.A.F.

(Jim) Lawrence James Pestridge; Squadron Leader/Pilot; R.A.F. – PoW.

A.R. Hunter D.F.C.; Pilot Officer/Navigator; R.C.A.F. – PoW.

K.P. Walker; Flight Sergeant/Wireless Operator; R.A.F. – PoW.

L.G. Dunn; Sergeant/Air Gunner; R.A.F.V.R. – PoW.


John Burdon was fatally injured, his body was found a day later not far from the wreckage of JD408.

The crash site. Image courtesy of Jonathan Bays

Jim Pestridge bailed out of the aircraft and came down near Nahbollenbach. He was  later captured at Birkenfeld railway station, on the Nahe Valley Railway.


The bodies of Frederick Sherrington, John Burdon and Leslie were originally buried together in a collective grave at Idar-Oberstein Cemetery. On the 14th May 1948 the bodies were exhumed, identified and re-buried separately at Rheinberg War Cemetery.


A family Note:

Leslie was my grandfather, I never knew him only knew my Grandmother Bessie. My father and his sister Ann and my grandfather’s twin sisters my great Aunts Grace and Rene I knew well though all have passed on now leaving only five of his grandchildren left now my sister Kathryn and I from his eldest son John and my cousins Ruth Paula and Anna from his daughter Ann. My Father emigrated to Australia in the 70’s when I was just 10 but my cousins remain in England still around Ipswich, between Ipswich and Norwich now.

My father met Jim Pestridge the pilot and he is how we know how what happened, as at the time Leslie was just listed as missing for ages and then finally killed in action. This was a tragedy for the family which my grandmother never got over and my father suffered from for most of his life being only 12 or 13 at the time. Like so many other families in England though we just got on with things and pushed it all to the back of our minds but it did have a lasting effect on my dad and grandmother.

I have been to the grave where he is buried next to his Flight engineer Jack Burden. We always consider he died on the 10th of August which is on his gravestone as although the mission was recorded as leaving England on the 9th being a night flight though his death was recorded on the 10th. I have a letter from Jim, a picture of their gravestones and a grainy copy of the crash site of the plane which I have attached.


Jonathan Bays


Commemorated in November 2020 on the Cornhill Ipswich in an exhibition. 

One Comment

  • A volunteer and at 32 the old man of the squadron. He pulled his weight and more for king and country not taking up a trainer role in Canada and continued on in Bomber command which was looked down on as ungentlmanly warfare and in the old Halifax the odds were stacked against you even in night raids


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