Leonard William Bangley EM

b. 07/12/1916 South Africa.  d. 23/05/1942 Libya.

DATE OF EM ACTION: 21/01/1936 Kakamega, Kenya.

Leonard W Bangley EM Grave

Leonard was born in South Africa in 1916, the son of Leonard and Helen Bangley. He spent most of his life in Africa, and was awarded the Edward Medal as a miner in the Gold Mines at Kakamega, Kenya. Following the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted with the RAF and joined No 223 Squadron, based in Kenya. During the Second World War the Squadron flew in many campaigns. In May 1942, it became an operational bomber squadron, equipped with twin-engined light attack bombers , the Baltimore A-30. The Squadron subsequently took an active part in the North African, Sicilian and Italian campaigns.

Based at R.A.F. Bir el Baheira No.2, Libya, four Baltimore’s had taken off from the airstrip at 1032 hours on the 23rd May 1942. Their mission was to attack the enemies main landing Ground at Derna. These four aircraft were intercepted at midday near Râs el Tîn, Alexandria, Egypt, by three enemy Messerschmitt Bf 109F fighters of 3/JG 27. The Messerschmitt had a top speed of seventy five miles per hours far more than that of the Baltimore A-30 bombers. Of the four aircraft attacked by the Messerschmitt Bf 109F fighters only one returned to Bir el Baheira, another one crashed injuring two of the aircraft’s four crew, but the other two crews were lost. One of these was the bomber flown by 24 year old Flying Officer (Pilot) Leonard Bangley.

Of the four crew in Leonard Bangley’s Baltimore A-30 bomber, only one has a known grave in Tobruk. It is that of Pilot Officer Leslie Joseph Back, the wireless operator/air gunner. Leonard and the other two crew members are all commemorated in the same cemetery on Special Memorials.



On the 21st January, 1936, Bangley, an employee in one of the Kimingini Company’s Gold Mines at Kakamega, Kenya, was firing the last of a round of nine holes when one hole exploded prematurely. Bangley was blown some little distance away, and his native assistant was struck by a rock and fell into the gutter with his face in the water, so that he was in danger of drowning. Bangley, although aware that the remaining fuses would shortly explode, returned in the darkness to search for the native. He eventually found him, and managed to carry him without assistance to a place of safety. The remaining charges then exploded._He carried the injured man for some distance before meeting some native labourers who then conveyed the injured man to the cage, and from there to the surface. The native subsequently died from the injuries he had received. Bangley undoubtedly displayed great gallantry in his attempt to save the injured man.



Special Memorial 1. B. 10.