101 Squadron, RAF Bomber Command.
Killed in flying accident 29th March, 1943, aged 22.
Leslie Maydew lived at 13, Railway Cottages, Leekbrook, close to Joshua Wardles mill where he worked after leaving school. When war came, he volunteered for flying duties with the Royal Air Force and was accepted as a flight engineer and, after training, was posted to 101 Squadron, based at Holme-on-Spalding Moor, Yorkshire. This squadron was equipped with the Mark 1 Avro Lancaster heavy bomber which carried a crew of seven.
During the early hours of Sunday, 29th March 1943, Leslie and the crew took off in their Lancaster, ED 542, for a night training excercise. When only four miles south of the airfield, the pilot got into difficulties and the Lancaster collided with some trees and crashed, killing six of the crew. Only the rear gunner survived. The others, including Leslie, were taken to their home towns for burial.
101 Squadron was the only unit in Bomber Command to carry the device known as ‘Airborne Cigar’. This was in use from late 1943 and designed to jam and disrupt German night-fighter communications. It is possible that Leslie Maydew and his crew were testing this equipment on the night they crashed.
Over 55,000 airmen of Bomber Command were killed during the Second World War. This total includes over 8,000 killed in air accidents or ground incidents. Not only had these courageous flyers to fight through enemy flak and fighters to reach their targets in enemy territory, they also had to test new or repaired aircraft, train new crews, convert to heavy bombers and so on.
Such flights had their own inherent dangers and many aircraft, either being ferried or on training flights, came to grief in the Peak District area. High points such as the Roaches and nearby Merryton Low were a deadly obstruction for pilots unfamiliar with the area, often flying in poor weather.
Leslie Maydew is buried at Wetley Rocks Churchyard