Leslie Raymond Carter

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Leslie Raymond Carter, born 15th April 1920, was the eldest son of Albert William and Jeanetta Caroline Abbott Carter, builders of Shenley, Hertfordshire. Leslie attended St Albans School from 1932 - 1936 before becoming a member of the RAF Volunteer Reserve and serving as a pilot in the Battle of Britain.

After a period of training at a number of bases including Burnaston, Kinloss and Cranfield, Les made his first operational flight on 14th September 1940 with 610 squadron, flying from Acklington in Northumberland. On 1st October he moved to 41 squadron in Hornchurch, encountering his first Me109s on patrol on 5th October. On 11th October he successfully baled out of his Spitfire after a collision while climbing to engage Me 109s over the Crooked Billet. Leslie's diary records his courage and cool head " I found myself in a Spitty with no engine and the tail hanging on by control wires. I stayed in while it fell to 17,000 from 28,000 with the tail viciously bashing the cockpit. Then I jumped and landed on the starboard wing. Lay there and then rolled off trail edge and delayed drop to 4,000 which was under cloud level. Landed in a field at West Kingsdown, Kent. Local RAF people picked me up and brought me back to Hornchurch". His aircraft fell and burned out at South Ash Manor, West Kingsdown. For saving his life using an Irvine parachute Leslie became a member of the Caterpillar Club. He continued flying but on 22nd October suffered serious frostbite in his fingers after a hood froze partly open at 35,500 feet, and he was assigned to light duties until he was able to resume flying.

Sadly during the afternoon of 6th July 1941, aged just 21, and by then a member of 74 squadron, Flight Sergeant Leslie Carter was shot down and killed while flying on escort duty over Wormhoudt, near Lille in northern France. Leslie is remembered at the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey.

Les's diary and family paint a vivid picture of a young man with a great sense of fun, determined to find his own way, and who lived his short life to the full. He had many friends and loved to spend time with them, returning to his family in Shenley whenever he could. His spare time was dedicated to maintenance of his beloved cars and to writing - whether diaries, correspondence to family and friends, or beginning work on a history of 41 squadron while at Hornchurch. He was also an avid reader and made frequent visits to the cinema.

I never knew my Uncle but know that he was deeply loved and sadly missed by his family. I am proud to submit this dedication to his memory.

Added by: Linda Smith on 19th June 2010.


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Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund
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