The Canal Raids

Flt Lt Leslie Hay Pilot 49Sqn

Leslie Hay was born on February 25th 1917 and joined the RAF at the London ACRC (Air Crew Receiving Centre) in 1941.

Elementary Flying Training took place in Saskatchewan, Canada.

After qualifying as a pilot he was posted to 49 Sqn in July 1944.

His first operation was on August 1st 1944 against the La Breteque Flying Bomb Site.

His 36th, and final operation was on March 5th 1945 attacking the synthetic oil plant at Bohlen.

He remained with 49 Sqn as an instructor until demobilised in September 1945. A career as a Civil Servant ended when he retired in 1982.

Leslie "Uncle Will" Hay in 1942

Uncle Will's logbook for the part of January and February shows raids on both Ladbergen and Gravenhorst (spelt here as Grabenhorst). The dates however, seem to be incorrect. When asked about this "Uncle Will" replied:
“Alike to him were time and tide. December’s snow or July’s pride. Alike to him were tide and time. Moonless midnight or Matins prime.”

A page of Uncle Will's logbook

Those who survived do grow old. In this picture (dated December 2002) Leslie is aged 85.

For many years "Uncle Will" has been the collator of records for the 49 Squadron Association. World-wide enquiries still continue to flow in from relatives seeking information about family members. Even with the passage of so many years these enquiries show no sign of abating.

Leslie "Uncle Will" Hay (ex 49Sqn)

"Uncle Will" has written the history of his wartime service for this website. This fascinating document, over 100 pages long, begins pre-war, moves to Canada for pilot training and includes details of all his operations until the eagerly awaited end of tour. There is also frequent reference to the RAF's penchant for "hurry up and wait".

Click here to download