Pilot Officer Henry LEISK

Service No: 402036
Born: Ashfield NSW, 30 October 1914
Enlisted in the RAAF: 28 April 1940
Unit: No. 159 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Air Operations: (No. 159 Squadron Liberator aircraft AL566), off Benghazi, 15 July 1942, Aged 27 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William and Jane Tait Leisk; husband of Hazel Mavis Leisk, of Merrylands, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Merrylands NSW
Remembered: Column 265, Alamein Memorial, Egypt
Remembered: Panel 125, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Merrylands RSL Club – World War II Memorial, Merrylands NSW
Remembered: Victory in the Pacific Memorial Wall and Fountain, Merrylands NSW
Remembered: Memorial Avenue Plaques, Merrylands NSW

On 15 July 1942 Liberator AL566 formed part of two formations of aircraft on an operational sortie to Benghazi, Libya. In a report by Squadron Leader Beck, leader of one of the formations, he stated “the two formations were engaged by enemy fighters over the target. AL566 was on Beck’s port side in No. 3 position in formation in the run up to the target. There was heavy and accurate flak over the target and just after releasing the bombs AL566 was seen to fall back and lose height. An enemy fighter dived onto the aircraft which made a steep turn to port. Both aircraft circled each other for a short time then AL566 was seen to spiral into the sea. Squadron Leader Beck considers that AL566 was hit by flak and in endeavouring to evade the fighter aircraft stalled causing a spin. The spin may have been due to damage to controls by flak.” Reports by other crews saw the aircraft crash into the sea. No parachutes were seen. Flight Sergeant Birk’s body was later washed ashore. In a 1948 report it was concluded that the remainder of the crew were lost at sea.

The crew members of AL566 were:

Flight Sergeant Hilary Eldred Birk MID (402634) (Second Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Martin Coston Fell MID (402118) (RNZAF) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant John Stephen Arthur Hodge (812278) (RAF (Auxiliary Air Force)) (Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Henry Leisk (402036) (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer George Gilmour Mallaby (402092) (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Warrant Officer William Stevenson Miller (521648) (RAF) (Observer)
Pilot Officer John Campbell Pottie (402134) (Pilot)


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 163/137/176
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line

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