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Phillip Howard Leckrone


Leckrone traveled to Britain in 1940 and enlisted in the Royal Air Force. Following conversion to the Spitfire at No 7 OTU RAF Hawarden he joined No. 616 Squadron at RAF Kenley on 2 September 1940. He flew more than two dozen sorties over the English Channel as a tail-end Charlie in 616 Squadron. He was later posted to No. 71 Squadron at RAF Church Fenton on 12 October 1940, to join other American volunteers in the first 'Eagle' squadron.

On 5 January 1941, Leckrone was taking part in a formation practice when he collided with P/O Edwin Ezell Orbison, who was able to reach base and safety. Leckrone went into a tail-spin and plunged toward the ground. Pilot Officer Vernon Keogh, who was flying in formation practice at 20,000 feet with Orbison and Leckrone, followed Leckrone down, shouting at him over the radio telephone. "Bail out! Bail out!" Leckrone did not reply and made no attempt to bail out. He died on impact and was the first fatality in No. 71 Squadron.

1939–45 campaign star and BoB Clasp



  • Edwin Orbison

    Military | Pilot Officer | Pilot
    Joined RAFVR, service pilot training in US, shipped overseas to ETO aboard SS 'Duchess of Richmond' for Liverpool early July 40, OTU training, assigned to 71[Eagle] Sqn RAF. ...

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Units served with

  • No. 71 'Eagle' Squadron

    No. 71 'Eagle' Squadron

    'On 19 September 1940, No. 71 was reformed at Church Fenton as the first 'Eagle' Squadron to be manned by American personnel. The Squadron received Hurricanes in November and became operational on defensive duties on 5 February 1941. No. 71 converted...


  • V6636

    Collided with Hurricane V6983 during formation flying practice, & crashed. P/O Philip H Leckrone, a Battle of Britain veteran died as a result. ...

  • V6983

    Collided with Hurricane V6636 during formation flying practice, and landed safely back at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey, P/O Erwin E. Orbison OK. The pilot of V6636, P/O Philip Howard Leckrone, was killed in the resulting crash. 5-Jan-41. ...

Associated Place

  • Kirton-in-Lindsey

    Military site : airfield
    Used as an RFC and RAF Home Defence landing ground during the First World War, Kirton-in-Lindsey was built during 1938-40 as an RAF fighter station. It had two grass runways, 10 hardstandings, three grouped C hangars and four over-blister hangars....

  • Martlesham Heath

    Military site : airfield
    Opened in 1917 as home to the RFC Aeroplane Experimental Unit, Martlesham Heath became well known during the 1920s-30s as home to the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment. Used as an RAF fighter station from 1939, with only a grass airfield...


Event Location Date
Born Salem, IL, USA 1912

Salem, Illinois, USA.

Joined RAF England, UK 1940

Joined Royal Air Force.

Conversion training Hawarden, Deeside, Flintshire CH5, UK 1940

Trained at No 7 OTU RAF Hawarden.

Assigned Royal Air Force Kenley Tribute, Kenley, Kenley, Greater London CR8, UK 2 September 1940

Assigned No 616 Sqn at RAF Kenley on 2 Sept 1940.

Transferred Church Fenton, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire LS24, UK 12 October 1940

Transferred to 71 [Eagle]Sqn RAF.

Died Lincolnshire, UK 5 January 1941

During formation practice, collided with P/O Edwin E Orbison, who was able to reach base and safety. Leckrone went into a tail-spin and plunged toward the ground, making no attempt to bale out and went in, KIFA.

Buried Kirton in Lindsey, Gainsborough, North Lincolnshire DN21, UK

Buried in Kirton-in-Lindsey Cemetery, Lincolnshire.


Date Contributor Update
25 February 2016 19:37:11 Al_Skiff Changes to unit associations and place associations

Date Contributor Update
01 October 2015 22:16:17 Al_Skiff Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nickname, nationality, service number, highest rank, role, biography, events and unit associations