Service honours ‘forgotten’ pilot

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A SPECIAL memorial service has been held for a forgotten airman 72 years after he died in a plane crash.

Pilot Officer Henry Fiddes Leech was just 21 when his Spitfire came down in Barking, near Wattisham Airfield.

But the RAF pilot, known as Harry, was never honoured in the Commonwealth War Grave Commission listing because he died the day before the Second World War was declared.

Last Friday, 60 people, including family members and local dignitaries, attended a special memorial and wreath laying ceremony in memory of the airman.

A short service was held, with a two minute silence and the First Post was played as the British Legion Standard was lowered.

A Sea King and Hurricane took part in a flypast.

Pilot Officer Leech, originally from Liverpool, was a pre-war member of 611 Squadron detached to RAF Duxford, in Cambridgeshire.

He died during a battle flight which was dispatched daily from Duxford.

On September 2, 1939, he took off alongside six other Spitfires at 10.50am, but later crashed at Barking as he flew out of cloud in poor conditions.

He had been awarded his wings on July 21 and had just 163 hours of flying before his death.

Bill Bugg, who was aged just seven at the time and witnessed the crash, attended the memorial event.

Terry Betchley, of the Wattisham Airfield Museum, organised the event after researching the accident and the pilot.