Fl Lt Leonard Smith pictured in front of a painting of a Halifax bomber he piloted.
A VETERAN of 59 Second World War operations over enemy territory, Fl Lt Leonard Smith, has died. He was 91.
Mr Smith, who lived at Currie Road, Lake with his wife, Violet, who survives him, served with 161 Squadron.
Thirty eight of his missions were special duties operations, where he would receive sealed orders a few hours before take-off and fly at low level to avoid enemy radar.
His bravery won him a number of medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross. His last flight was on D-Day and he then served in the RAF Volunteer Reserve until the early 1960s.
Born in Walworth, London, it was while living in Sidcup in Kent he applied to the RAF to become a pilot.
He married Violet at St Catherine’s Church, Ventnor — a marriage which was to last 67 years and produce a son and daughter, four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
He became a draughtsman for the Southern Electricity Board in Ryde, a career which lasted 40 years, and in the late 1960s joined the Salvation Army in Ryde.
He became involved with the corps, both playing in the band and becoming the youth club leader, where he indulged his love of storytelling.
His creative and artistic talents included making carnival costumes, puppets, toys, cartoon cake decorations — and anything else to amuse his children and grandchildren. He was also known as a very good handyman.
He died peacefully at St Mary’s Hospital.
Following a private family funeral at Ryde Cemetery, a memorial service was held at Ryde Baptist Church.