Battle of Britain Hurricane pilot, Group Captain Leonard Bartlett DSO, has died in Australia at the age of 100.
Bartlett, known as “Red” or “Bart”, passed away early on the morning of Saturday 11 February while receiving respite care. He had been ill for some time.
His son Chris told the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust: “in the early hours of a full moon night he took off on his last sortie. The weather turned to torrential rain.”
Bartlett was one of 13 serving Group Captains who had flown in the Battle of Britain to march in Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral cortege in 1965, led by Air Commodore ‘Al’ Deere.
Born in Muswell Hill, Middlesex, on 20 June, 1916, Bartlett joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in May 1939, as an Airman u/t Pilot, and after completing his training and converting to Hurricanes, he joined No 17 Squadron at Debden on July 15, 1940.
On August 21, Bartlett shared in the destruction of a Ju 88, on September 5 he shared a He 111 and on the 19th he shared a Ju 88.
On October 28 he damaged a Do 17, on November 8 he destroyed a Ju 87 and probably a second and on the 11th he shot down a Ju 87 and probably another.
On March 17 1941 Bartlett was shot down over Chiddingly, Sussex, and baled out, his Hurricane coming down at Stream Farm.
Commissioned in July 1941, he was posted to No 137 Squadron at Matlask the following February and on July 6 he damaged a Ju 88 off Yarmouth.
In September 1942, Bartlett was given command of No 253 Squadron at Hibaldstow, shortly before it departed for North Africa in November. Bartlett destroyed a Ju 88 on January 10, 1943.
The squadron moved to Monte Corvino, Italy in October and Bartlett was posted away in January 1944 and awarded the DSO in early March.
Bartlett was appointed military commander of the island of Vis, in the Adriatic, where an airfield had been built. He was given the US Legion of Merit for organising the rescue of USAAF crews who had ditched in the Adriatic Sea.
In 1945 Bartlett became Personal Staff Officer to the AOC Middle East. He retired from the RAF on June 20, 1966, as a Group Captain.
In late March a remembrance service will be held at St Luke’s in Mosman Park, Western Australia, to celebrate Bartlett’s memorable life and his role in the most decisive battle won by this country in the 20th century.
Note – the historical information above is taken from “Men of the Battle of Britain”, published by the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust (which holds the copyright). For more information, follow this link.