Leslie Attwood was the only son of Joseph and Florence Attwood of 126 High Street, Old Hill, Rowley Regis, Staffs. He attended the Claughton School in Dudley and enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps in July 1915. He was on active service with this Corps until 1918 when he was commissioned to the Royal Flying Corps (Royal Air Force) on 22nd August 1918 and posted to 55 Squadron. This was formed at Castle Bromwich in 1916 and by 1918 it was equipped with the De Havilland 4 two-seater light bomber. Its task was strategic as well as tactical bombing of German resources. It included bombing ing sites in Germany and for this purpose it was allocated to the new Independent Air Force under Trenchard. This had been set up in response to the German bombing of London as a ‘hit-back’ force on German towns. In mid-1918 they were based at Azelot near Nancy in Lorraine, France, undertaking long-range raids on enemy air-fields and communications, together with reconnaissance missions. It was dangerous work in aircraft with little protection flying at just 90 m.p.h. The pilot had a Vickers machine gun and the observer in the rear cockpit controlled a Lewis gun. They flew in formation but their tasks inevitably attracted faster German fighters flying a defensive role. They suffered a heavy loss rate as the German air force had no shortage of aircraft and their air-crew were determined to protect their own territory at almost any cost. In August, when Leslie Attwood arrived, life expectancy for crew was just 11 days. It is recorded that in a raid on the 15th September flying over Strasbourg Leslie Attwood shot down a pursuing German fighter. One of his fellow officers at Azelot was Second Lieutenant W.E. Johns who was shot down on the 16th May. He survived to write the famous series of Biggles books which were partly based on his experiences at this time. On September 25th Leslie Attwood was flying as observer in DH 4 (A 2159) for a raid on Kaiserslautern. Four of the squadron’s aircraft failed to return from this flight and his DH 4 was shot down near Nancy, He had been on active service for only a month. Second Lieutenant Leslie Attwood was 22 years of age and is buried in Charmes Essegny Military Cemetery (I C 5) south of Nancy and commemorated on the Claughton School Memorial and on his parents’ grave in St. Kenelm’s churchyard (D 143), Clent, Worcestershire. ALSO OF OUR DEARLY LOVED SON JOSEPH T. LESLIE ATTWOOD (2nd LIEUTENANT R.A.F.) KILLED IN ACTION 25th SEP. 1918, AGED 22 YEARS. BURIED IN BRITISH CEMETERY CHARMES, FRANCE. PER. ARDUA AD ASTRA. REUNITED. They had continued to live in Old Hill but clearly had some special relationship with the church of St. Kenelm. It is situated high on the Clent Hills, one of the highest churches in the country, and the view from its cemetery is remarkable, especially the well kept lawns and graves and the view to the north which includes the Black Country – no longer black – and the places where Leslie Attwood was born and educated – Old Hill and Dudley. Above all, there is the continuing peace of the English countryside which is in such stark contrast with the flames, noise, smoke and desperation that would have marked the last few seconds of his life. The nature of his death is a potent reminder of the meaning of, the motto of the new Royal Air Force in 1918: PER ARDUA AD ASTRA.

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