Serial Number: NZ417194
RNZAF Trade: Wireless Operator/ Air Gunner
Date of Enlistment: 28th of December 1941
Rank Achieved: Flying Officer
Flying Hours: 92 hours
Date of Birth: 5th of June, 1920 at Cambridge
Personal Details: The sixth son of Edward John Buttimore (Snr.) and Elsie May Buttimore, of Cambridge. He was educated at Cambridge Primary School and Cambridge High School. Before joining the RNZAF Leslie was sheep farming. Leslie was an enthusiastic rugby follower and had also been very keen on swimming and scouting.
On leaving school he was employed at R.A. Hughes, a mercer in Cambridge, and then at Messrs. Marriotts Stores Ltd., who were grocers in Auckland. Prior to applying to join the RNZAF he worked briefly as a shepherd on an Auckland sheep station.
He was a member of the St Andrew's Service Guild, and following his death a memorial seat was place in the grounds of St Andrew's Anglican Church in Cambridge, which remains in place today.
Service Details: Prior to enlistment in the RNZAF, Leslie had spent approximately ten months in the Territorials. Following initial training at Levin, commencing on the 28th of December 1941, Leslie left New Zealand on the
12th of February 1942, aboard the USS Bloemfontein.
He was transported to Canada for training as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner. He began training at No. 3 Wireless School, Winnipeg,Manitoba. Upon completing that stage of his training he proceeded on the 27th of September 1942 to No. 8 Bombing and Gunnery School, Lethridge, Alberta. On the 26th of October 1942 leslie gained his Air Gunner's badge and was commissioned with the rank of Pilot Officer.
He continued training as a Wireless operator at No. 32 Operational Training Unit, Patricia Bay, British Columbia, carrying out many air exercises in Avro Ansons, Airspeed Oxfords and Handley Page Hampden bombers. He was promoted to Flying Officer on the 26th of April 1943.
Following his training, Leslie proceeded to No. 1 "Y" Depot, Halifax, Nova Scotia, for embarkation to the United Kingdom. He was shipped to Britain and upon arrival was posted to No. 12 (RNZAF) Personnel Reception Centre.
Shortly afterwards Leslie was sent to No. 1 Torpedo Training Unit at Turnberry in Ayrshire, Scotland, where he flew as a Wireless operator on a Hampden bomber.
Details of Death: Leslie was killed on the 7th of August 1943 during formation practice in a Handley Page Hampden bomber. He was training at No 1 Torpedo Training Unit, RAF Turnberry, Ayrshire, which was part of 17 Group.
He was a Wireless Operator onboard Hampden TB.I (coded X3026) which took off at 14:55hrs piloted by Flying Officer JHW Johnstone of the RAAF. Some 50 minutes later they were in low cloud and rain, and due to low visibility the aircraft flew into an 855ft high hill at Mochrum Wood, 2 miles west of Maybole, and 4 miles NE of Turnberry. All four crew died, including Leslie and another RNZAF WOpAG, Flt Sgt Sydney Raymond Greer (NZ417208). Leslie had trained with Sydney right through his RNZAF career. Leslie was aged 23
Buried at: Leslie was buried with full service honours at Section. E. (White) Grave 293. Dunure Cemetery, Ayreshire, Scotland
Connection with Cambridge: Leslie was born in Cambridge, New Zealand and was a resident right up till his enlistment in the RNZAF
Note: The Buttimore family had further tragedy when Leslie's sister-in-law's brother was lost on operations. Flight Sergeant Kensington Campbell Jackson (NZ42330) of Hamilton was the brother of Mrs Eleanor Buttimore of Cambridge (wife of Edward Buttimore junior). A Wireless operator/Air Gunner, he was killed on the 23rd of August 1943 while flying with 75 (NZ) Squadron RAF. He was buried at Hanover War Cemetery in plot 16.C.7, and he is remembered on the Hamilton Cenotaph. One notice in the Waikato Times, dated the 16th of November 1943, actually says that F/Sgt Jackson was "of Cambridge". This was under the official gazette that came from the War Office. I have not yet confirmed whether he had moved to Cambridge pre-RNZAF, or perhaps joined up from Cambridge.