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Leslie Lissette

Leslie Harry Lissette was a Warrant Officer (W/O) in the Royal New Zealand Air Force when he perished on May 4th, 1944 at age 26. He was serving overseas. In 1942, he had attended No. 3 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) at Calgary and received his Wings. Read further for the details of this man’s training through the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) and his courageous service.

Warrent Officer Lesile Harry Lissette Leslie Lissette was born in Hastings, New Zealand on August 24th, 1917. In June of 1939, he applied to serve as an airman and, on being accepted, enlisted at Royal New Zealand Air Force Station, Ohakea, where he was employed on ground duties. During the following three years, he was posted to the Royal New Zealand Air Force Station, Nelson, remustered to pilot and was posted to Initial Training Flying at Rotorua and No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School, New Plymouth, for training. By October 1942, he had embarked for Canada to continue his training.

Shortly after his arrival in Canada, Leslie Lissette was posted to No.3 Service Flying Training School, Calgary, Alberta. He was soon awarded his flying badge and promoted to the rank of Sergeant (Sgt), with promotions to Flight Sergeant (Flt Sgt) and to Warrant Officer (W/O) following. In March 1943, he proceeded to No. 1 "Y" Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia, to await embarkation for the United Kingdom. Within a few short months, Lissette was in England, where he continued refine his flying and instrument skill at various training units and on different aircraft, including the Wellington bomber, the Stirling bomber and the Lancaster heavy bomber. 

On April 24th, 1944 he was posted to No. 207 Squadron, Spilsby, Lincolnshire and commenced operational flying. With this squadron, as captain of a Lancaster bomber he took part in four operational flights comprising attacks on Schweinfurt in Germany and Clermont Ferrand, Tours and Mailly-Le-Camp in France.

From this last operation against Mailly-Le-Camp, undertaken on the evening of May 3rd, 1944, the aircraft failed to return to its base and all members of the crew, including Warrant Officer Lissette, were classified as missing. Later, it was learned that five of the crew had managed to make a parachute descent and upon their return to England, they stated that Lissette had stayed at the controls until it was too late for him to bail out, this action being, without doubt, in order to give the others the opportunity to bail safely. It was reported that a French policeman had collected Lissette's identity tags and then stated that the Germans had buried the young Warrant Officer and the other members of the crew in a cemetery near the crashed aircraft. Warrant Officer Lissette was reclassified as missing, believed killed in action. In due course, his death was officially presumed to have occurred on May 4th, 1944 as the result of air operations. Subsequent investigations established that Warrant Officer Lissette had, indeed, been buried in the cemetery at Chantreux, France.

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