Les Hood

Les Hood

  • 28th June 1944
  • 582 Sqn [8 Group]
  • RAF Little Staughton [Nr Bedford]
  • Flt Sgt – Navigator
  • Lancaster lll , ND 921 60-D
  • Target: Mark rail marshalling yards at Blainville

At 2210hrs on the night of 28/29thJune 1944 Lancaster lll ND 921 60-D took off from Little Staughton to mark the rail yards at Blainville. As part of the Pathfinder Force their role was to mark the target area for the main bomber force. They were attacked as soon as they crossed the French coast.

In a third attack the aircraft was hit but continued with the mission. However a fourth attack caused further damage and the aircraft lost height. The skipper ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft in the region of the village of Coincy. Les made a difficult exit and rolled in free-fall unable to pull his D ring until he had fallen to about 4000ft. He was alarmed when his D ring came free in his hand (which it often did!), however his chute opened with a large crack and jerk leaving him swinging from side to side.

Fortunately Les landed safely although, regrettably, and unknown to Les at the time, the two air gunners landed a quarter of a mile away amongst the burning wreckage and lost their lives. Les struggled with the removal of his harness then he buried his parachute and looked for cover.

After a short period of evasion Les was collected in by helpers and taken by motorbike to a safe-house at Livry-Gargan, in the eastern suburbs of Paris. There were four US airmen already there. The group waited until dark and were then moved on foot to another house owned by the manager of a plaster-of-paris factory where one of the couriers, Andre, worked. There they joined three RAF aircrew and one American.

The group remained at the factory until the Allies reached them. During that time Andre and his wife Micheline were their main contacts and suppliers of food. Andre also supplied cigarettes. Many years after the war he explained to Les how he obtained the supply of cigarettes by going into a ‘tabac’ in different towns, putting his pistol on the counter and asking the manager if he was a true Frenchman. If he replied ‘Yes’, Andre would simply ask him for all his cigarettes and give him a receipt!

To while away the time in the safe-house, and aid the war-effort, Les helped to ‘manufacture’ four-inch squares of steel into which he cut ‘V’ shapes then prised them upwards to make spikes. These were then scattered in the middle of roads to slash enemy tyres, especially at night.

Rev Les Hood died on 26 March 2011.