Flying Officer James Westwood LEITCH DFC

Service No: 409060
Born: Townsville QLD, 21 March 1914
Enlisted in the RAAF: 21 June 1941 (at Melbourne VIC)
Unit: No. 7 Squadron (RAF), RAF station Oakington
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 12 November 1943
Died: Air Operations: (No. 7 Squadron Lancaster aircraft JA907), Netherlands, 20 October 1943, Aged 29 Years
Buried: Dalfsen General Cemetery, Overijssel, Netherlands
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William Angus and Pearl Lena Seaman Leitch; husband of Marion Helen Leitch, of Elizabeth Bay, New South Wales, Australia. A.I.C.A.
Roll of Honour: Melbourne VIC
Remembered: Panel 125, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

DFC Citation: “Flying Officer Leitch has attacked a large number of targets in Germany and Italy. His determination to complete the attacks no matter how hazardous or perilous the situations, has caused the aircraft to be subjected to intense ack-ack fire and illumination by numerous searchlights. Although unable entirely to avoid defences, Flying Officer Leitch has persisted in his attacks and placed his bombs accurately. This officer has been mainly responsible for the many successes of his crew. He was reported missing as a result of air operations on 20 October 1943.” (London Gazette 12 November 1943 Page 4973)

At 1739 hours on the night of 20 October 1943 Lancaster JA907 took off from Oakington to bomb Leipzig, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it failed to return to base. Post war it was established that the aircraft was shot down by a night fighter and crashed at Oudleusen (Overijssel), 14 kms east north east of Zwolle, Netherlands. Six of the crew members had been killed one was a Prisoner of War.

The crew members of JA907 were:

Sergeant Joseph Hardy (1032217) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air)
Flight Sergeant Charles Benjamin Jolliffe DFM (1320077) (RAFVR) (Observer)
Sergeant F W Lashford (945729) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer) PoW
Flying Officer James Westwood Leitch DFC (409060) (Pilot)
Flight Lieutenant Arthur George MacLeod DFC (81062) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Francis Edward Noble (1805859) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Frederick Henry Pete Simmonds (1378201) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)

In a later report Sergeant Lashford stated “the aircraft burst into flames and I baled out at a very low level.”


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, 166/24/208

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