F/O Leo Leslie Schultz RAAF – 1921 to 1990

Errol Barrow’s crew in RAF 88 Squadron, “B” Flight, Second Tactical Air Force (2TAF) during World War II consisted of: English pilot Andy Cole and the two Australian rear wireless operator and air gunners (WAGs): Leo Schultz and Allen “Shorty” Stewart. BajanThings has covered both Errol Barrow’s time in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and his pilot Andy Cole. This post complements the previous two posts and is Leo Schultz’s story: it seeks to add depth to the previous posts and offers a glimpse into the sacrifices the young men in this crew from Australia, Barbados and England made.

Leo Schultz photos album - Training in Canada
Training in Canada. Crew No. 31/48/416 – Graduates of Course No. 48, No. 31 Operational Training Unit, RAF Debert, Nova Scotia, Canada – 7 April 1944. P/O Andrew Leslie Cole RAF (Pilot), SGT Errol Walton Barrow RAF (Navigator & Bomber), SGT Leo Leslie Schultz RAAF (Wireless/Air gunner) and SGT Robert Allen “Shorty” Stewart RAAF (Wireless/Air gunner) standing in front of a Lockheed Hudson Mk. IIIa C3 serial number BW564 of 31 Operational Training Unit.

Ian Schultz, Leo Schultz’s son, recently contacted BajanThings and has shared his father’s flying log book, World War II photograph album and the section of his father’s mémoire detailing his wartime service. Leo Schultz wrote his mémoire in 1989 for his eight children. He died in 1990 aged 69.

Leo Schultz grew up on a dairy farm in Brogo, a small community in the Bega District of New South Wales (NSW), Australia. He was the second youngest in a family of five and had three brothers and one sister. He signed up to support the the war effort and enlisted with the Australian Army on 23rd May 1941 joining the 21st Division of the Cavalry Regiment as a Private. In October 1942 he transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Following initial training at RAAF Bradfield Park in Sydney, Leo was classified for Wireless operator / Air Gunnery (WAG) training and opted for overseas training in Canada. Leo would later joined Errol Barrow’s crew that was assigned to RAF 88 Squadron, “B” Flight, 2TAF seeing active service supporting the Allied ground forces, bombing German communication infrastructure positions and airfields, flying 52 combat bombing sorties (missions).

Prior to Victory in Europe (VE Day) on 8th May 1945, RAF 88 Squadron was disbanded on 6th April 1945 following the Allied armies rapid advance.

  • F/O Cole was posted effective 6th April to 2nd Tactical Air Force (2TAF) Communications Squadron RAF which later became British Air Forces of Occupation (B.A.F.O.) Communications Squadron.
  • P/O Barrow was posted effective 6th April to 85 Group Communications Squadron RAF, in Bückeburg, British sector of occupied Germany.  No. 85 Group Communications Squadron later became British Air Forces of Occupation (B.A.F.O.) Communications Squadron.
  • F/SGT Schultz was posted to No. 9 PDC pending being demobbed in Australia on 4th January 1946 with rank of Flying Officer.
  • F/SGT Stewart was posted to No. 9 PDC pending being demobbed in Australia on 13th December 1945 with rank of Flying Officer.

Before enlisting in 1941 aged 20, Leo had worked for the Rural Bank of New South Wales for three years. On his return to Australia in 1946 aged 25 Leo re-joined the Rural Bank of New South Wales and resumed his career as a banker until he retired in 1980. The Rural Bank of New South Wales was acquired by the Colonial State Bank in 1994, which was then acquired by Commonwealth Bank in 2000.

Leo married Norma Collins in 1946 and had eight children.

Ian remembers his father sharing the story about how his father had met up with Errol Barrow in Australia. This catch-up reflects the power and comradery of training together in Canada and active wartime service with RAF 88 Squadron “B” Flight. Leo Schultz and his navigator Errol Barrow most likely caught-up in 1977/78 during Errol’s visit to Australia while the West Indies cricket team were playing in the inaugural Kerry Packer World Series Cricket (WSC) tour. At the time, Errol Barrow was leader of the opposition in Barbados and was in Australia in a private capacity, not representing the WICB or the BCA. He was the guest of Dr Rudi and Lyndi Webster, a Barbadian cricketer and doctor who worked at Melbourne’s The Alfred Hospital. Dr. Webster also acted as manager for Clive Lloyd’s West Indian Team for WSC tours in Australia between 1977 to 1979.

Leo Leslie Schultz 1920 - 1990
Les Schultz (Leo Leslie Schultz) – December 1989.

Leo Leslie Schultz’s story while in the Australian Army / Royal Australian Air Force:

SERVICE LIFE

Leo Leslie Schultz 1920 - 1990 mémoire

Whilst at Griffith in December 1941, I entered Army Service and trained at Wagga Wagga, subsequently the Unit moved to Nowra. We had a platoon Bren gun shoot (approximately 30), I was runner up in this. We also had a Company (approximately 250) and a Battalion (approximately 1,000) .303 rifle shoot with fixed bayonet – I was consistent being runner up in these also, the winners of the three shoots were different chaps. I attributed my marksmanship to a keen eye, steady hand and all the shooting experience I had on the farm as a youngster.

Army pay was 6/- (60 cents) per day – we were paid fortnightly. Five of us were very good mates, Pat Murray, Paul Neaber, Bob Lowing and Doug Liston all from Griffith. It wasn’t unusual for one to borrow from the other between pay days. One pay day Paul paid back what he had borrowed and said “I have ten shillings left”. Someone said “You owe me 10/- Paul,” so he paid up, and the procedure commenced again until the next pay day.

Whilst at Nowra one Sunday four of us hired a rowing boat and set out up the Shoalhaven River. Well up the river we discovered all of us had cigarettes but no matches. We saw a house on the other side of the river, so rowed across and went up to see if we could get some matches and save going back to camp. Three of us went up while Paul waited in the boat reading a cowboy book. After a while, he called out “are you fellows going to stay up there talking to that silly old bugger all day”. The old chap took offence, said “I’ll fix him” and hurriedly went inside. We decided to make a hasty retreat to the boat, then rowed “like hell”. The old chap came out with a rifle and started firing. Bullets were whistling past us into the water, he was either a bad shot or just wanted to scare us which he succeeded in doing. We stayed very close to the bank on the other side when returning that afternoon.

Whilst at Nowra an RAAF Air Crew Recruitment Unit came and asked if anyone was interested in joining. Approximately 25 Army personnel came forward, all were initially asked four questions – one I recall being asked was “what’s the value of X if 3X-17=13”. I said X=10. Only five passed the initial test – we were given written papers on all topics, took about two hours – we were then told to have a smoke.

[The solution to: what’s the value of X if 3X-17=13? X is: 10. Here is the calculation Leo would have done in his head: 30-17=13 so if 3X is 30, then X must be 30/3 which is 10]

We were subsequently informed only two had passed, the other chap and myself were called down to Sydney for our medical – in all departments it lasted from 8.30 a.m. until 3.30 p.m. – the other chap turned out to be colour blind, so I was the only one to get through out of the original 25. One test was for endurance, blow up a column of mercury to a certain level, a clamp was placed over the nose and it had to be held at that level for 60 seconds. I held it for 116 seconds, I hadn’t heard of anyone bettering this time.

I did my initial training at RAAF Bradfield Park in Sydney, was classified for wireless operator – air gunnery training. I think everyone wanted to be a pilot, however, they only wanted a certain number of pilots and navigators with the biggest need for wireless operators and air gunners.

At the passing out parade we were given the choice of training at Parkes NSW, Amberley QLD, or overseas. When my name was called, I went into the overseas section without hesitation. We were given a few days embarkation leave then went to Melbourne and subsequently boarded the “New Amsterdam” a 36,400 ton liner. There were 300 Airmen aboard, plus a lot of American soldiers being repatriated from the Pacific region.

We headed for New Zealand and docked in Wellington Harbour for a full day, however, we were not allowed off the ship. From there we sailed for San Francisco arriving there seventeen days later.

From San Francisco, we journeyed by train through the Rocky Mountains to Vancouver, the journey and scenery were unforgettable. After seven hours in Vancouver we set off across the Rockies to Souris – 150 miles east of Winnipeg when we were given a few days leave. All went back to Winnipeg where we were all fed at the YMCA and allocated to private homes within two hours. Six of us went to a house where this lady had accommodated many Australians. She was very nice and said “I suppose you boys would like to go out and see the city”. I said” we didn’t like coming into her home (this was about 9pm) going straight out then coming home later”. She was keen for us to do this, I said seeing it’s Terry’s (Ryan) 21st birthday tomorrow we might go out for a short while” and thanked her for her understanding.

Next morning, she said to me “I want you all back for dinner at 6pm”. When we arrived back she had a large table beautifully set up and six Canadian girls there – a surprise 21st birthday for Terry. She served a sumptuous meal and becoming used to the Canadian drawl was difficult initially.

From there we were posted to Wireless School at Calgary, at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the population of the city was 93,000 at that stage (many times that number now). It regularly receives a mention on the world news as having the coldest temperature – last year the Winter Olympics were held near there.

[The 1988 Winter Olympics (known as the XV Olympic Winter Games) were held in Calgary from 13th – 28th February 1988]

When I first saw the Wireless School with 6′ wire netting plus 3′ barbed wire on top I thought no one would ever get in or out of that place except through the main entrance, I along with many other airmen went over it more often than through the main gate. Curfew was 10 pm, pictures in the city didn’t finish till 11 pm so there was only one thing to do if you went to the pictures.

I recall one night some of us went over the fence near our barracks and did not see a guard who was patrolling with his service revolver. He chased us, I was up the stairs and under the blankets in my uniform until he disappeared – his efforts were in vain.

There was an intake and passing out parade of airmen every month. The course which lasted seven months included morse code, radio (knowing in detail everything about four different types of receivers and transmitters) Aircraft and Shipping recognition and Aldis lamp (Morse lamp) as used by shipping. Morse Code was drilled into us, we had to be able to receive and transmit at twenty words per minute to pass the course. Skeet Shooting was also on the agenda.

Airmen came from Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, all provinces of Canada, we also had a South African on our course.

Accommodation was in two storied billets which were air-conditioned to room temperature 78°F [26°C]. With the outside temperature sometimes being as low as 30°F below zero [-34°C], it was a shock to the system to walk out of the barracks into this, however, we dressed appropriately and soon became accustomed to it. We were well accommodated and well fed, usually cereal and bacon and eggs for breakfast, fruit juice, coffee, milk etc. with a choice of good food for lunch and dinner.

Reveille was 6 am with a loud siren on the base, we had to rise, shower, get dressed, make bed and leave the billet spotless, have breakfast and be on parade at 8 am.

Bunks were two tiered (I had a top one) and all had a card on the end of the bed with service number and name on it. One morning the Orderly Sergeant (who really liked himself) came through, took the cards of those still in bed after reveille and we were all placed on a Charge to appear before the Commanding Officer at 11 am.

When we appeared the CO asked if anyone had anything to say. There was a lull, I thought “here goes”. I said “Yes Sir”, I said I thought it was in order, provided everything had been done, beds made, billets tidy, breakfast over and be on parade at 8am. I said I also thought it was the Orderly Sergeants duty to wake one up instead of sneak in, take the bed cards and sneak out again. The South African said a few words also. All the others were confined to barracks for the weekend – the two of us were let off – I thought it pays to speak up at the appropriate time – that was the only charge I was ever placed on.

At the School we were informed that the Canadian Government invited two guests each from Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain from the Wireless School to go on the annual Banff Trail Ride through the Rocky Mountains – this consisted of four days on horseback with all tents, cooking etc. provided, the method of selection for candidates from the Wireless School was for the best two at Morse Code at that stage. I was fortunate enough to be chosen, however, with my past experience with horses I thought this could be boring and declined the offer. The two who went said they had a marvellous time, however, I went 436 miles each way by Greyhound bus through the Rockies to Nelson, a city on a lake and enjoyed this journey. We were entertained by the local Postmaster and his family, including boating on the lake.

The Rocky Mountain scenery has to be seen to be believed.

With the severe change in climatic conditions, several airmen became ill. I contracted Scarlet Fever and was in Isolation Hospital for two weeks. I could have either stayed in the same course and catch up the two weeks lost, or as they suggested, take two weeks recuperation leave and drop back to the next course. I chose to do the latter and went to Vancouver for two weeks, stayed at a private home – an English Pilot was on leave staying there also. This was very relaxing; Vancouver is a nice city with scenic parks and gardens and breath-taking scenery.

I actually traversed the Rockies three times, twice west to east and once east to west. The train journey through the Mountains takes 24 hours, sometimes the train reaches 90 mph. The engineering feat in constructing the railroad through the Rockies is unbelievable. There are two rail lines, one Canadian Pacific, the other Canadian National.

The Calgary Stampede is renowned worldwide, the airmen took part in the procession through the City before the Stampede began. It was very colourful including Red Indians from the various tribes decked out in their feathers and regalia with their ponies and wigwams. We spent the day at the stampede, being the only one of its kind in the world.

There were other Air Force bases in close proximity, a local cricket competition was held with several teams entering. The Australians from the Wireless School entered a team. I managed to win a spot after some better players had moved on. We played in and won the final – I opened the bowling at one – left arm fast-medium – bowled eight, 8 ball overs, took four wickets and caught one in slips. We occasionally played a game of rugby league against the New Zealanders on the course just for the sport and recreation. These were happy days despite the concentrated training at the Wireless School.

On completion of the Wireless Course we were posted to Lethbridge in Alberta for a concentrated school of six weeks which included air to air gunnery. We had Skeet Shooting competitions also (clay pigeons and using .22 rifles with fine shot) usually had 20 cents in each pool which I usually scooped.

On completion of this course we all graduated as Sergeants (three stripes). I along with others was posted to Debert in Nova Scotia near the east coast of Canada for operational training on Coastal Command [at No. 31 Operational Training Unit (OTU) RAF Debert, Nova Scotia, Canada]. This was a three months course.

Allen “Shorty” Stewart and myself trained together as Wireless Operator Air Gunners with concentration on wireless operating for Coastal Command, taking it in turns to operate the transmitter (sending messages in morse code) the other doing the “listening watch” taking down everything received in Morse Code. This training was carried out in Lockheed Hudson light bombers.

[Both Leo Schultz and Allen “Shorty” Stewart were promoted to SGT (three stripes) on 23rd December 1943 and to F/SGT (three stripes and a crown) on 23rd June 1944. (They left Halifax for the voyage to the UK on 25th June 1944.)]

During winter the ground and runways were often iced over which made it dangerous for flying – on this airfield we had thirteen “crack ups” in one week – we finished up on one occasion off the runway with both wheels bogged in the snow, nose in the ground and tail In the air. The Ambulance and Fire Brigade raced out – we jumped clear – our “rescuers” were too busy picking up pieces of broken Perspex for making souvenirs than to worry about us – we were OK anyhow.

At this base we had to form our own crews – Shorty and I crewed up with Andy Cole of Great Britain, pilot and Errol Barrow of Barbados, West Indies, Navigator. We were a happy crew and flew together thereafter.

During my time in Canada I was fortunate enough to have three leave periods, venturing to New York on each occasion – in all spending six weeks there and a week in Washington.

New York had an “ANZAC House” where all Australian and New Zealand airmen congregated. All invitations to airmen were handled through there, the times I was there, there were Australians and New Zealanders in abundance. I believe there were 5,000 invitations that could not be fulfilled.

On one occasion six of us attended a 21st birthday party this chap was giving his daughter – he was in charge of 7,500 munition workers, commencing work at 6 a.m. It was a sumptuous dinner, they entertained and talked till 3 am when I suggested it was time we left – he said “whats the hurry boys”.

The Australian Air Force uniform was distinct from other countries being royal blue with “Australia” on the shoulders – I cannot speak too highly of the hospitality showered upon us by the Americans. It amazed me the little knowledge most had about Australia, some would say” Australian, I thought all the people were black – is it right that Australians eat one another” – of course we’d do a bit of leg pulling on occasions.

In New York, I visited Radio City Music Hall, Stage Door Canteen, Manhattan and Harlem but wouldn’t venture there after dark. Went to the top of the Empire State Building, 102 stories high. The building occupies a complete block – the first elevator travels 65 stories (it’s turned off and coasts the last five) change there for the 89th, then catch another elevator to the top. In no time you’re 1,200′ up with a magnificent view over the city. During the war a Mitchell bomber crashed into the 79th storey during fog.

Traffic over there travels on the right hand side of the roadway, this took some time in becoming accustomed to, with some “close calls” on occasions.

During the Christmas period they recorded messages from the airmen for the folks back home – I was invited to do this and the message came over loud and clear back here I believe.

Washington is a beautiful city, it was cherry blossom time when we visited, we attended a party given by the Australian Legation on Saturday night – I attended mass on Sunday morning before going to bed.

Following completion of final leave, we were posted to Lachine, 13 miles from Montreal, prior to embarkation to Great Britain. One night we missed the last tram back to Lachine, went to the YMCA, no accommodation was available but were told if you can find a place to lie on the floor you’re welcome to it. I found a spot, lied down and went to sleep about 1 am. (All lounge chairs were taken and I was lucky to find a space on the floor). I slept in my uniform – when I woke at 8am instinctively felt my top tunic pocket, the button was undone and my wallet gone. I searched all the garbage bins without avail. I didn’t have much money in it but a few personal papers. The wallet which was suitably inscribed and presented to me by the Bank was not seen again.

From Lachine we went to Halifax and despite rumours we’d heard that the New Amsterdam (which took us across the Pacific) had been sunk, there she was berthed and ready to take us across the Atlantic to Great Britain.

There were 9,000 troops aboard, we only had two meals a day, by the time breakfast was finished and washed up it was almost time for the tea queue to start – 18,000 meals a day took some preparation and serving.

Crossing the Atlantic was uneventful as the liner was too fast for most German submarines as it cruised at 30-32 knots – we appreciated this.

We docked at Greenock in Scotland, the Australian Commanding Officer came aboard to welcome us – he said “well fellows, if it’s not raining here you know it’s going to rain (it was a very dull, grey, drizzly morning). From there we travelled by train through Glasgow and down to Padgate near Werrington in Lancashire awaiting posting. There were 100 Australian Air Crew – all Sergeants – six of us were Flight Sergeants (three stripes and a crown). We were on parade, the officer said “I want three (out of the six) to be in charge of this contingent on the base – you, you and you” – I was one of the you’s.

The barracks were approximately half a mile from the parade grounds, different ones would come to me and say I want to “buzz off” for a couple of days for so and so, permission was always given as there was nothing to do except fill in time and wait, however, on roll call “all were present”. An amusing incident during the parade one morning, the CO gave everyone a blast. Said he had a letter of complaint from the Chief of Police of Lancashire regarding conduct of Australians on the base. He complained that bicycles had been stolen in town and found outside the Airfield, sign posts had been pulled down and pointed in the wrong direction, but to cap it all a farmer next to the base found a team of Australians making a rodeo out of his milking cows at 3 o’clock in the morning – this conduct definitely had to cease.

We were given a few days leave, although London was out of bounds. I ventured there, booked into a hotel, and the air raid siren went off at 8 pm. The city was blacked out, the all clear did not sound until 8 am next morning. I stood outside an air raid shelter until 1 pm watching the flying bombs (V-1’s) coming over, walked through the shelter, there were two tiered bunks on either side where people slept the night. The main railway stations in London had mattresses side by side about eight deep where the bombed out Londoners slept at night and went to work the next morning. The hardships experienced by them was overshadowed by their spirit, grit and determination that prevailed. Luck was high on the agenda for survival as the bombing and devastation continued.

From the night in London (an experience I’ll never forget), I ventured to a large Manor House in Devon. The elderly owner had 22 refugees from London accommodated there (they had been bombed out of their homes). He was a very interesting old chap, who had a large cellar with 60 gallon kegs of apple cider stored (about six glasses were sufficient to give you a good glow). The county of Devon is lush green with stone fences and very picturesque. I attended a cricket match in the local village and spent a few days relaxing in preparation for the times ahead.

Our crew, along with many others, were posted to do a six weeks conversion course to the Tactical Air Force as they were running short of crews. Shorty and I topped this course, Errol topped his Navigation Course so we had a fair crew. Andy, the pilot had all the clues on the ground but was a little slow at times putting them into practice in the air.

We did further training in Douglas Boston medium bombers over Britain and were then posted to 88 Squadron, “B” Flight, Second Tactical Air Force (2TAF) based at RAF Hartford Bridge in Hampshire for the real thing. The procedure was for the names of crews required for the next bombing mission to be placed on the notice board with the time of briefing given. All crews assembled in the briefing room and were informed of the target, route to be taken, where and how much anti-aircraft fire we’d encounter, also the possible number of fighter planes we could expect to encounter. Prior to completing our first mission, this procedure was carried out three times, the first two occasions, after warming up the engines, prior to take off, the operation was aborted due to bad weather over or near the target.

Our first mission was Calais on the French Coast, this was uneventful, I thought that if this is operations it will do me. The second mission was bombing at Arnhem in Holland in support of 8,000 British Paratroopers who had been dropped to take the Arnhem Bridge (they lost 6,000 and the operation failed – it had been said if this succeeded the war could have been shortened by six months). There was very heavy flak and plenty of German fighter planes. I was relieved to get back to Britain – this sortie completely changed my vision of operations.

After only four missions from Britain our squadron moved to Northern France occupying a former German Airfield – some crews remained in Britain to keep flying until we were established and then joined us. We went across the English Channel on LST’s at night departing from Tilbury and disembarking on the beach at Ostend in Belgium. The end of the LST’s was lowered and the convoy driven off. It amazed me the amount of barbed wire entanglements and pill boxes that “Jerry” had erected there and could understand why Hitler had boasted that “no enemy” would ever set foot on the continent.

[LST are Landing Ship, Tank, – the naval designation for ships developed during World War II to support amphibious operations by carrying tanks, vehicles, cargo, and landing troops directly onto shore with no docks or piers]

We travelled by day and overnight slept in a hay shed enroute. French people lined the routes to welcome us, the children knew only how to give us the Nazi salute (having been under their rule for so long).

The airfield which was to be our home till near the end of the war, had been heavily bombed and repaired, our quarters were dummy buildings which the German’s had build and which were reinforced for us by British ground crews, with concrete floors and Kosi stove installed. There were nine housed in each billet, the mess (eating quarters) was riddled with bullet and shell holes done by our Airforce when the Germans were in occupation.

[A Kosi stove is a multifuel cast iron stove used for heating.]

It was bitterly cold in winter, the Kosi stoves were kept operating 24 hours a day and often the water pipes were frozen.

The airfield was at Vitry-en-Artois situated midway between Douis and Arras and 25 miles from Lille, the fourth largest city in France. Each of us was issued with a booklet giving the main words in English and French, this was useful in learning to speak some pigeon French, barely enough to get by on. Had I known and taken French at High School this would have been useful then.

When the Germans were driven out they left behind a large storage of furniture in the village, also a large storage of Vodka and Champagne branded “reserved for the Wehrmacht” – all these items were put to good use.

All aircrew were issued with their personal .38 calibre revolver to be carried on operations and used if necessary if shot down over enemy territory.

Leo Schultz photos album - Combat operations 88 Squadron 2TAF
Leo Schultz photos album – Combat operations 88 Squadron 2TAF – Allen “Shorty” Stewart outside of our billet at Vitry-en-Artois in France. Notice 0.38 pistol at waist.

The French were left with very little after the German occupation – I saw a very old lady pulling a cart and picking up sticks of firewood-one farmer had a horse and an oxen together pulling a plough. In a café, I saw a father, mother and four children each with a cup of coffee, sharing a loaf of bread for a meal, each one taking a bite and passing it on to the other.

We had a French-Canadian in our billet – he could speak French fluently. There were only five Australians on the Squadron, this number increased slightly later on.

There were three Squadrons at the Vitry-en-Artois airfield. 88 Squadron flew Douglas Boston medium bombers, there was No. 342 Free French Squadron who also flew Douglas Boston medium bombers and 226 Squadron who flew B-25 Mitchell medium bombers. On each mission each squadron sent twelve planes (there were also many planes and crews in reserve at all times). We flew in “boxes of six” formation, three in tight arrowhead with the other three slightly below and behind giving a “box” pattern of bombing. Each formation flew and bombed two minutes apart. We were usually escorted by Spitfire fighters which were always a welcome sight to see and gave us some feeling of protection.

Bombing was usually carried out at 12,000ft which attracted both heavy and light anti-aircraft fire – the Germans were very accurate – the shells would burst with a black puff of smoke sending shrapnel in every direction – when we heard them exploding (which was often) they were too close for comfort. On one mission near the industrial centre of Dusseldorf eleven out of the twelve planes on our squadron were damaged by anti-aircraft fire – the ground staff worked long hours to repair and keep enough of our aeroplanes in service.

Leo Schultz photos album - Combat operations 88 Squadron 2TAF
Leo Schultz photos album – Combat operations 88 Squadron 2TAF – Bostons in formation.

The Bostons usually carried four 500lb bombs, the Mitchells being slightly larger carried eight – occasionally anti personnel fire bombs were used – depending on the target.

Our flying equipment consisted of normal everyday tunic (referred to as battle dress) inner and outer flying suits, fur lined flying boots, three pairs of gloves (silk, woollen, then leather gauntlets) leather helmet with cord and plug to connect to the intercommunication system in the aircraft, parachute harness and parachute which we kept in the aircraft close by.

The Navigator was in the nose of the aircraft, the Pilot above, each had their own entry compartments and were sealed off from one another also the wireless operators and air gunners, Shorty and I entered the aircraft through the “belly hatch” position, one entering the gun turret on top and towards the rear of the aircraft, the other manning the under machine gun position. Shorty and myself took it in turn rotating these positions on each mission.

Images of Boston III rear gunners compartment taken from Douglas A-20 / Boston III Gunner’s Compartment Technical Manual. The manually operated machine gun in the dorsal position of Boston IIIs was replaced by a motorised Martin 250 turret in Boston IVs.

I always attended Sunday Mass whenever practicable and possible, carried Rosary beads in my top tunic pocket (Kevin and his wife had given me these) and whilst the engines were warming up waiting to take-off on each mission, I said the Rosary quietly to myself on my fingers then wished the crew good luck – having carried out 52 missions I always felt confident facing each mission, however, I adopted the view that if we were to “get the chop” that day there wasn’t much we could do about it.

[Kevin was Leo’s eldest brother.]

After the Liberation of Paris, the Hôtel du quai d’Orsay on the banks of the River Seine was opened as a rest centre for two days for airmen and troops in the area. To select those to go twelve names were drawn out of the hat from our airfield, believe it or not mine was the first name drawn – we went by Air Force truck to Paris. The hotel was luxurious, comfortable rooms and beds, good meals and all modern cons with a barber on the premises. The first day a conducted tour of the City was arranged, we were driven by bus and visited the Unknown Soldiers’ Memorial, Eiffel Tower, Napoleons Tomb, Notre Dame Cathedral and several other prominent buildings – at night we did a tour of the Night Clubs.

A Service Policeman told me I was the first Australian Airman he’d seen in Paris after the liberation, however, at one nightclub I saw one sitting at a table, I went over and spoke to him, he said he was ”officially on leave in London”. We also went to the Folies Bergère and saw as much as possible whilst there.

As mentioned previously the Australian Airman’s uniform stood out from all others. Whilst standing at the Unknown Soldiers Memorial a civilian came up to me and said “how are you going dig”. The moment he spoke, I could detect the Australian accent. He told me he married a French lass and remained in Paris after the first World War. He said (I think the number was 400 odd) Australians did likewise, they’d had an annual reunion ever since, however, numbers had diminished significantly over the years. This is a typical example of comradeship that existed throughout the Services.

Sanitary conditions are not as we experience, latrines were just off the street, as you passed by the males, backs could be seen with only a small covering about two feet off the ground and 3′ high as protection, so head, shoulders and legs were quite visible to passers-by. In some establishments (cafés) ladies and gents entered through the same door, there was a trough for the men, a female could be standing nearby waiting her turn into her section. This was the lifestyle they were accustomed to and none appeared to be embarrassed or take any notice.

We were given two weeks leave from operations after nearly five months there, I flew back to England and spent the time with a family in Liverpool I’d met earlier on and who treated me like one of their own. The terrace house was No 13, the hotel on the corner had been completely demolished by German bombers, the city had been badly ravaged by bombing and in particular the Mersey dockyards.

Everything in England was rationed, tea, butter, sugar, soap, sweets and most commodities – fresh fruit and luxuries were like gold. Upon my return – to the squadron I took some coffee beans and a few cakes of soap I acquired, the coffee beans in France sold for the equivalent of Three pounds a Lb and soap 6/- a cake. They were unprocurable in France along with cigarettes – young lads there would approach us and ask for cigarettes, then one for Mumma, Poppa, brother and sister, this was a regular occurrence.

Whilst in Northern France an Australian Comforts Fund vehicle visited us monthly bringing parcels containing tinned fruit, cigarettes, fruit cake, toothpaste, soap and sundry items, the three of us shared these with our billet mates as the poor old Poms and Canadians received nothing like this. The Fund did an excellent job and we looked forward to receiving these home comforts.

Upon completion of our bombing missions our crew was granted three days leave in Brussels, capital of Belgium. It’s a very old city, with beautiful architecture, we saw as much as we could in that time.

I applied for a Commission (Air Force Officer) before leaving France, was flown to Brussels to be interviewed by a panel, this came through following my return to Britain.

[Both Leo Schultz and Allen “Shorty” Stewart applied for commissions before leaving 88 Squadron. They were promoted to Pilot Officer effective 5th April 1945 (the day before 88 Squadron was disbanded) and promoted to Flying Officer six months later on 5th October 1945.]

Upon return we were accommodated at a hotel in Brighton in the south of England. When VE (Victory in Europe) day came – 8th May 1945 – there were joyous celebrations all over the U.K. The only thing I had to do periodically was to check to see if my name was on a shipping list to return home to Australia. The Australian Services Cricket team played five unofficial Test matches against the Englishmen, I saw play at Lords and the Oval in London, Manchester and other centres. The Services team included Lindsay Hassett, Keith Miller, Bob Christofani, while the English team included Hammond, Hutton, and Washbrook, all of whom subsequently became long playing test team members.

After being on leave for many weeks, I became anxious to return home following VJ (Victory over Japan) day on 2nd September 1945. l was fortunate enough to be in Brighton checking the shipping lists when a vacancy occurred, one person becoming ill – I took this vacancy and arrived back home in November, 1945.

The liner was the SS Stratheden, approximately 25,000 tons sailing through the Mediterranean, Suez Canal, across the Indian Ocean berthing at Fremantle. We stayed there a few hours, were allowed on shore, then sailed for Sydney. All told I spent 56 days and nights on the water in four stages. Following disembarkation we were all given leave prior to being discharged from the Services.

RETURN TO CIVILIAN LIFE

Prior to going home on leave I called at the Head Office of the Rural Bank in Martin Place, Sydney, said I was keen to recommence duties, said I would go anywhere to “pick up the threads again”, was offered Accountant/Teller at Bega Branch or go relieving. Having been at Bega for 3 years pre war, I went to West Wyalong branch on the relieving staff, stayed at the Post Office Hotel where some other bankers and schoolteachers resided – full accommodation was one pound 10 shilling ($3.00) per week.

While on leave I became engaged to Norma Collins…

[Footnote: Les (as Leo became known after the war) married Norma Mary Collins (1923 – 2018) in July 1946. Norma was 23 years old and came from Candelo in NSW. They had eight children – six girls and two boys. Babies four and five were twins. One daughter is deceased. There are nineteen grandchildren, thirty seven great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren with another one due soon!]

Extract from: “Leo Leslie Schultz 1920 – 1990”

Details from Leo Schultz’s RCAF Flying Log Book for Aircrew other than Pilot – combat flights are underlined in red.


A selection of Leo Schultz’s World War II photographs.

Training in Canada

Operational flying with RAF 88 Squadron, “B” Flight, 2TAF initially based at RAF Hartford Bridge (later known as: RAF Blackbushe) in Hampshire, England and then at Vitry-en-Artois in France.

RAF 88 Squadron disbandment photos from Leo Schultz, Alan Cole and Geoff Norton photo albums

88 Squadron A Flight disbandment photograph March 1945
88 Squadron “A” Flight disbandment photograph March 1945 which included: Geoff Norton. (Photo Bryan Norton)
Leo Schultz photos album - Combat operations 88 Squadron 2TAF
Leo Schultz photos album – Combat operations 88 Squadron 2TAF – 88 Squadron “A” and “B” Flight disbandment photograph March 1945. (It includes Geoff Norton – “A” Flight and Leo Schultz “B” Flight)
Leo Schultz photos album - Combat operations 88 Squadron 2TAF
Leo Schultz photos album – Combat operations 88 Squadron 2TAF – 88 Squadron “B” Flight disbandment photograph March 1945.
88 Squadron B Flight disbandment photograph March 1945
88 Squadron “B” Flight disbandment photograph March 1945. (Photo Andrew Cole family)
Leo Schultz photos album - Combat operations 88 Squadron 2TAF
Leo Schultz photos album – Combat operations 88 Squadron 2TAF – whole Squadron disbandment photograph March 1945. A similar photograph can be found on the Australian War Memorial website).

Photographs following the disbandment of RAF 88 Squadron – return to England and demob in Australia.


Background to this series of posts…

This series of posts associated with Errol Barrow’s time in the RAF commenced in 2017. William Burton thought BajanThings should write a post on Errol Barrow’s time in the RAF and that task was delegated to me.

Like many of his generation Errol Barrow did not talk much about his war-time contribution as a Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR) and he left no autobiography or mémoire.  There are books and books written on Errol Barrow’s political career. Most relegate the seven years he spent in the RAF to a line or two. It took BajanThings about eighteen months to piece together Errol Barrow’s time in the RAF using his RAF service record and 88 Squadron operational records that are held by the UK National Archive in Kew. In March 2019 BajanThings posted: “Errol Barrow – Statesman, Prime Minister of Barbados, RAF Navigator World War II”.

Updates to the Errol Barrow post were made a number of times as we expanded our knowledge and a follow-up post on Errol Barrow’s pilot Andrew Cole was also made. The initial BajanThings Errol Barrow post was featured on the Facebook group: Old Time Photos Barbados and Melissa Whitney Nelson posted a comment: “I met a pilot he [Errol Barrow] flew with by chance in a church near Leatherhead. Was so amazing…”. BajanThings was able to make contact with Melissa and discovered that, that chance meeting had taken place in 2010 at St. Nicolas Church, Great Bookham and the pilot was indeed Andrew Cole.

Sadly Andrew Cole died in December 2017. With some detective work BajanThings was able to make contact with Andrew Cole’s daughter Debbie Jefferies. She very kindly loaned us her Dad’s three RCAF/RAF log books, his photograph album and as background information: a tribute he wrote to coincide with the unveiling of Errol Barrow’s statue on 21st January 2007 “Errol Barrow: My Navigator: My Friend” and the manuscript to his unpublished book: “The Beautiful Blonde in the Bank”.  With Debbie Jefferies’ permission BajanThings digitised Andrew Cole’s unpublished book which can be downloaded for free from BajanThings. If you enjoy reading the “The Beautiful Blonde in the Bank” please consider making a donation to either the: RAF Benevolent Fund or RAF Museum.

Fast forward to 2023. Leo Schultz’s son, Ian Schultz, came across the BajanThings Errol Barrow and Andy Cole posts and contacted us and shared with us his father’s logbook, photos album and a mémoire, he had written for his children. Leo’s mémoire is filled with personal insights, such as when he describes his pre-mission ritual “whilst the engines were warming up waiting to take-off on each mission, I said the Rosary quietly to myself on my fingers then wished the crew good luck…” and it offers some insight into his resolve “…I always felt confident facing each mission, however, I adopted the view that if we were to “get the chop” that day there wasn’t much we could do about it“.

We would like to thank Ian Schultz and the Schultz family for allowing BajanThings to publish Leo Leslie Schultz’s service life mémoire, log book details and World War II photographs. This post complements the previous two posts and is Leo Schultz’s story. This important piece of World War II history complements and adds depth to the existing Errol Barrow and Andy Cole posts and offers a glimpse into the sacrifices the young men in this crew from Australia, Barbados and England made supporting the war effort.

We’d like to thank: David Barrow, Victor Brooks, Iain Edghill and Michael King who helped us dig into West Indies cricket history trying to pin-point when Errol Barrow might have met Leo Schultz in Australia. We did also try contacting the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to see if they might have had any information in their archives – neither body responded to our requests.

We’d also like to thank: Anthony Whittingham for clarifying some details on Lockheed Hudson and Douglas Boston aircraft; Bryan Norton whose father Geoff Norton was in “A” Flight and who flew with Errol Barrow in the BAFO Communications Squadron, Commander-in-Chief Flight who has shared additional photographs and helped in identifying people in the 88 Squadron group photographs;  Lynda Lewis for originally publishing the link to the Errol Barrow story on her Facebook Group: Old Time Photos Barbados and to Melissa Whitney Nelson who posted a comment which was the catalyst that has made this series of posts possible. We thank you all.


UPDATE: For years and years we have been searching for the family of Robert Allen “Shorty” Stewart.

In January 2024 we were contacted a family member of the fourth member of Errol Barrow’s crew, fellow Australian, RAAF Wireless operator / Air Gunner: F/O Robert Allen “Shorty” Stewart. [5th January 1919 – 10th October 2004] following the death of his wife Audrey Alice Stewart (nee Smith), in Australia on 15th January 2024 aged 99. They had discovered this post and Leo’s photos of Shorty Stewart.

Shorty met Audrey Smith from Winnipeg while the aircrew were training in Canada in 1943 and 1944. Andy Cole in his book “The Beautiful Blonde in the Bank” mentions Audrey. After the war Audrey Smith made the difficult decision to follow her heart and moved halfway around the world to Australia to marry Shorty in April 1946. In those days its was not like today where you can jump on the Kangaroo flight and be be Sydney in about 20 to 24 hours! The main mode of transport was by boat which could take 30 to 45 days!

Later in the year we hope to bring you the story of: F/O Robert Allen “Shorty” Stewart RAAF and share his memoirs as recorded by his family, photographs and details from his log book.


Some background on the conversion of the Leo Schultz’s mémoire into digital text.

We had some experience of converting Andy Cole’s manuscript “The Beautiful Blonde in the Bank” to digital text. For Andy Cole’s manuscript we scanned 120 individual A4 typed pages at very high definition straight to PDF from our scanner, then used Word to auto convert each PDF to digital text. We then merged each converted page and began the exercise to fix the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) conversion gibberish (f’s and t’s and i’s and l’s and rn’s and w’s were often read incorrectly).

Leo Leslie Schultz 1920 - 1990 mémoire

The process for Leo’s manuscript was slightly different – each page of Leo’s mémoire was firstly photographed by Ian in Australia.

Individual pages were then perspective cropped in Photoshop.  The resulting perspective fixed images were then adjusted for contrast to get the best black on white image and saved as jpg images. These page images were then pasted into a Word document and saved as a PDF.  We found that converting four pages at a time was the most efficient way of converting the images to text.

The batches of PDF documents were converted to text using: https://www.onlineocr.net/. onlineocr.net was used as the previous way of using Word to auto convert the PDF to text failed. We think this was probably due to the fact we were using images within the Word doc that we then saved as a PDF, rather than what we had done before, which was to scan each typed page as a PDF?

The resulting text for each four pages was then merged into one master Word document, manually cross-checked with the original and glitches fixed. A bit time consuming but worth the effort to share this piece of World War II history.


Additional information on Errol Barrow’s time in the RAF can be found in the following BajanThings post:

2 thoughts on “F/O Leo Leslie Schultz RAAF – 1921 to 1990”

  1. Thanks for sharing. A truly fascinating story. In particular I enjoyed the time spent in Canada as many places are very familiar to me. By 1960 Calgary’s population had grown to 220,000 and is now well over 1 million.

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