Sergeant Leonard Leslie GRIST

Service No: 415138
Born: Collie WA, 25 May 1913
Enlisted in the RAAF: 21 July 1941
Unit: No. 8 Squadron, Canberra, ACT
Died: Aircraft Accident, (No. 8 Squadron Beaufort aircraft A9-258) Canberra, 3 May 1943, Aged 29 Years
Buried: Canberra (Woden) Public Cemetery, ACT
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Clive Dudley Grist and Mary Grist, of Collie, Western Australia; husband of Edith Edna Grist, of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 99, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

On 3 May 1943 Beaufort A9-258 took off from Canberra aerodrome on a test flight following a 40 hour inspection. At 1050 hours while flying over the aerodrome at about 2,000 feet, smoke issued from the port engine which shortly after failed for some unknown reason. Sergeant Grist decided to make a forced landing, endeavouring to trim the aircraft, and made a right hand turn towards the aerodrome. The port airscrew was fully feathered and the aircraft made a rather fast approach, slightly downwind with flaps and wheels retracted.

At about 1100 hours when rather more than halfway across the aerodrome and travelling west to east at 15 feet altitude, the Pilot attempted to go around using the starboard engine only. Due to the slow speed of the aircraft, the starboard engine took control and forced the aircraft into a climbing turn to the left. The aircraft stalled, struck the ground and burst into flames on impact. The Pilot and Navigator were killed in the crash, and Corporal Morris was rendered unconscious. Despite being injured Flight Sergeant MacLean along with Sergeant Daly were each awarded the British Empire Medal for bravery in rescuing Corporal Morris from the crash.

On board A9-258 were:

Sergeant Joseph Edgar Daly BEM (405903) (Wireless Air Gunner) Discharged from the RAAF: 27 August 1945
Sergeant Leonard Leslie Grist (415138) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Owens McAllister Howden (408845) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Byron Veitch McLean BEM (414053) (Wireless Air Gunner) Killed on Air Operations: 15 November 1943
Corporal George Leonard Morris (19803) (Fitter II Airframe, Supernumerary) Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 20 November 1945


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9845, 249


Wilson, S. (Stewart) Beaufort, Beaufighter and Mosquito in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1990

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