December 14, 1921 - June 15, 1944
The only son of Mabel Leitch and her husband, Gordon James Leitch, the family lived in Pembroke, Ontario. Leitch had one sister, living with parents. The family was Presbyterian. Leitch was a student prior to enlistment.
Leitch enlisted in Ottawa on April 24, 1941. He joined up right after school as a radio mechanic because his parents opposed his joining aircrew. Leitch was not interested in the radio course -- he did very poorly, but seemed to have tried. Remustered. He chose pilot and parents reconciled to his being in aircrew. [Page 54 of PDF]
December 1942: arrived overseas
No. 54 OTU: Average; not over sure of himself; is keen to eradicate his mistakes in technique and by discussing them with others.
No. 55 Operation Training Unit: Course 51. 50% A steady pilot is keen to learn and has good judgment. August 17, 1943.
He had been with 175 Squadron for 8 months. He participated in approximately 17 operational sorties prior to his drowning on June 15, 1944.
A Court of Inquiry was struck to investigate Leitch?s death. Three witnesses were called forth: F/L Vernon Jarvis, 175 Squadron, W/C Banditt, Homsley South, and S/L Ingle Finch, 175 Squadron.
Three other witnesses were unable to be called, as their whereabouts were unknown. They were servicing Commandos. They were the rigger, fitter and NCO of Typhoon 1B MN481.
Weather: Clear and Fine. Visibility 10-15 miles. 0625 hours -- 3 miles south of Needles; aircraft crashed into sea. Flight was authorized, forms properly filled out ?in every detail?. Conclusions: Leitch abandoned his aircraft at 800 feet -- his airscrew was practically stopped. Air Sea Rescue picked his body up, but Leitch had died from drowning. [Identification discs and pictures were found on his body.] It was determined that Leitch was fully operational and experienced on the Typhoon. The aircraft suffered from some technical fault developing shortly after take off. However, no definitive cause for the accident could be ascertained as the plane was not recovered.
Leitch was buried on June 16, 1944 at the Parkhurst Cemetery, Isle of Wight.
Family requested to have his waterlogged wristwatch returned, as well as a cigarette lighter. Both were badly damaged. [Page 187 of PDF]
Miss J E Stephens [2146889 LACW] from Bishop Otter College, Chichester, Sussex, wrote to the Air Ministry about Leitch. She wanted to write to his family. "I knew him very well." [Page 238 PDF]
TELEGRAM: Page 269 of PDF
The Memorial Bar was received by his mother in 1950.
LINK TO PDF: collectionscanada.ca