Sergeant Leonard Albert Soutar RAFVR was the son of Albert Leonard and Agnes Soutar of Dundee and Auchter Villa, Clyde Place, Perth. He was a former pupil of Perth Academy and a member of staff in the Workmen’s Department of the General Accident Fire & Life Assurance Corporation. He began training in his spare time with the RAF Volunteer Reserve in May 1939. Soutar was called up for service shortly after the outbreak of war.
Soutar served with RAF 44 Squadron at RAF Waddington who at the time were equipped with Handley Page Hampden twin-engine medium bombers. On 8 July 1941, his aircraft, Hampden, AD840 was sent on a mission to bomb the marshalling yards at Hamm, just west of Dortmund in Germany. They were initially reported as missing. It was later ascertained that they were hit by flak and crashed. None of the crew survived and were buried near Hamm. They were later re-interred in the Reichswald Forest Cemetery near the border with The Netherlands after the war ended.
Handley Page Hampden AD840 crew:
Sergeant Alfred William Wilson, RAFVR (970361), pilot, age 28
Sergeant Henry Douglas Makenzie, RAFVR (1000335), wireless operator/air gunner, age 19
Flight Sergeant Samuel John Lytle, RAF (619200), wireless operator/air gunner, age unknown
Sergeant Leonard Albert Soutar, RAFVR (748346), observer, age 21
From the Perthshire Advertiser, 12 July 1941
‘PERTH AIRMAN MISSING
TOOK PART IN R.A.F. RAIDS ON GERMANY
Mr and Mrs Albert L. Soutar, Auchter Villa, Clyde Place, Perth, were officially informed on Wednesday that their only son, Sgt.-Observer L. A. Soutar (21), R.A.F., is missing as a result of operations over enemy territory.
Sergt -Observer Soutar, who is attached to a bomber squadron, had been taking part in the recent heavy-scale attacks by the R.A.F. on Germany and on targets in enemy-occupied countries. The trip from which his machine failed to return was the fourth since he rejoined his squadron a fortnight ago after a spell of leave at home.
A former pupil of Perth Academy, he was a member of the staff in the Workmen’s Department of the General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation. He began training in his spare time with the R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve at Perth in May 1939 and was called up for service shortly after the outbreak of war.
“His father, a former member of the Post Office staff at Perth, served in the Royal Navy throughout the last war. He was called up from the reserve, having previously served as a first-class petty officer.’
Bomber Command Raids of 8/9 July 1941
A total of 171 aircraft took off from bases in England, ten aircraft were lost, 34 aircrew killed or missing, and nine aircrew taken prisoner.
Two Hampden aircraft were lost from RAF 44 Squadron.
RAF 9 Squadron (Munster) lost 1 aircraft.
RAF 10 squadron (Hamm) lost 1 aircraft.
RAF 35 Squadron (Merseburg) lost 1 aircraft.
RAF 58 Squadron (Hamm) lost 1 aircraft.
RAF 78 squadron – (Hamm) lost 3 aircraft.
RAF 83 Squadron (Hamm) lost 1 aircraft.
Hamm, 45 Hampdens and 28 Whitleys. Only 31 aircraft were able to bomb in the target area. 4 Whitleys and 3 Hampdens lost.
Munster, 51 Wellingtons. 1 lost. Large fires were claimed in the railway-station area. Munster recorded 15 people killed.
Bielfeld, 33 Wellingtons to attack a power-station. No losses.
Merseburg, 13 Halifaxes and 1 Stirling to the Leuna oil plant. 1 Halifax lost.
In 1941, the Squadron was to be known as No 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron. The Squadron Motto, Fulmina Regis Iusta translates as ‘The King’s Thunderbolts are Righteous’.
The Squadron received its first Avro Lancaster in late 1941, and became the first squadron to convert completely to Lancasters. On 9 May 1941, a German raid on RAF Waddington saw ten killed including seven women from the NAAFI whose air raid shelter received a direct hit. RAF 44 squadron suffered third highest overall losses in Bomber Command during the Second World War, sharing this with No. 78 and 102 Squadrons. A total of 1,639 aircrew were killed in action and 309 became prisoners of war.
There were two RAF 44 squadron commanders who held the Victoria Cross, Wing Commanders Roderick Learoyd and John Nettleton. Squadron Leader R A B ‘Babe’ Learoyd VC led the attack on 8 July 1941 and between May and July 1941 he and his crew flew ten sorties, including Cologne four times, and bombing the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the U-Boat Pens at Lorient.
Leonard Albert Soutar, Perthshire Advertiser 12 July 1941
AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: HANDLEY PAGE HP.52 HAMPDEN AND HEREFORD. (CH 3478) Hampden Mark Is, AE257 ?KM-X? and AE202 ?KM-K?, of No. 44 Squadron RAF based at Waddington, Lincolnshire, in flight. Both aircraft were lost on raids over Germany, AE257 on the night of 21/22 October 1941 flying to Bremen, and AE202 over Hamburg on 26/27 July 1942. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205126908
ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: BOMBER COMMAND (CH 3481) Hampdens of No 44 Squadron on a practice flight, September 1941. The foreground aircraft, AE257, was lost on an operation to Bremen on 21-22 October. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205218636
ROYAL AIR FORCE BOMBER COMMAND, 1939-1941. (CH 3482) Three Handley Page Hampden Mk Is of No 44 Squadron RAF based at Waddington, Lincolnshire, in flight. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210101
ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: BOMBER COMMAND (CH 3484) A member of the ground crew poses in the narrow ‘fighter-type’ cockpit of one of No 44 Squadron’s Hampdens, September 1941. Note his ‘Rhodesia’ shoulder title and the bomb tally painted on the fuselage. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205218639