Knight, Les, “Leslie” born in 07-03-1921 in Camberwell, Australia was an Australian Royal Air Force Bomber Command pilot, service No. 401449. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1943 for taking part in Operation Chastise, the Dams Raid,early in the morning of 16-09-1943 a Lancaster of the RAF crashed. The Australian Pilot of the 4-engine bomber, Fl/Lieutenant Leslie Gorden Knight, DSO, was killed after he ordered his seven crewmen to bail out first. The others landed safely nearby. The two left engines were out, but he pulled up to avoid the disaster of a crash on the village of Den Ham. That night the plane was on a raid targeting a dyke of the Dortmund-Ems canal near Ladbergen. Les Knight and his crew belonged to 617 Squadron and in May 1943 were also one of the “Dambusters”, the famous attack with Wing Commander, Guy Gibson on the Ruhr dams in Germany.
This raid took place in very bad weather conditions. The 617 Squadron detachment were using a new thin case 12.000 lb bomb, dropped from a very low height. However they failed to damage the canal, and five aircraft were lost. Four complete crews and Les Knight, pilot of the fifth plane, were killed. All the remaining seven of Knight’s crew, including Fred Sutherland.
still alive and well in Canada, baled out while Knight struggled to keep his damaged aircraft aloft. There is a memorial at the crash plot and he was buried in a field grave close by.
Death and burial ground of Knight, Les “Leslie” Gordon.
They owe their lives to him, as do people in the village of Den Ham which he managed to avoid when crashing. Fred Sutherland, rear gunner, and Sidney Hobday
here visiting the grave of Knight,, navigator wound up with a Dutch resistance group, including myself Ed Lessing, in a hut in the woods near the village of Lage Vuurse, in the center of Holland. After they were smuggled back to England, our group was found out and raided by German forces on the 29-12-1943. The only ones still alive at this date are myself Ed Lessing , other Dutch resistance member Herman Munninghof, and Fred Sutherland with whom I correspond regularly. I have several photographs of Sutherland and Hobday with our resistance group in the woods. Knight was after a field grave buried the same day at the “Old Cemetery” in Den Ham. Herman Munninghof died in Woerden, on 07-02-2018 at the age of 96. OBE died age 64 on 25-08-1964.
His mother, Mrs Nellie Knight, visited the grave in about 1954. Left to right: Harold Hobday (navigator), Edward Johnson (bomb aimer), Fred Sutherland (front gunner), Les Knight (pilot), Bob Kellow (wireless operator), Ray Grayston (flight engineer), Harry O’Brien (rear gunner).