Leslie Thomas Manser VC


Leslie Thomas Manser was born on the 11th May 1922 in New Delhi, India.

He was a Flying officer with 50 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On the night of 30th May 1942 he was the captain of a Manchester bomber taking part in a mass raid on Cologne.

As they approached the target his aircraft was caught in searchlights and came under heavy anti-aircraft fire, but they successfully bombed the target from a height of 7000 feet. As they were heading for home they were still under heavy fire, and the aircraft had been seriously damaged. He descended to 1000 feet to take evasive action but they continued to be hit and the rear gunner was wounded.

The cabin began to fill with smoke and the port engine was overheating. Determined to save his aircraft and stop it and the crew falling into enemy hands, he took it up to 2000 feet where the port engine burst into flames. Knowing a crash was inevitable he ordered the crew to bale out. He refused to leave, telling the men to jump immediately as he could only hold the aircraft steady for another few seconds. The crew baled out safely but the plane crashed in flames.

He was twenty years old.

It was announced on the 23rd October 1942 that Leslie Manser was to be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his actions.