McLeod, Henry Wallace “The Eagle Of Malta”, born 17-12-1915 in Regina, Regina Census Division, Saskatchewan, Canada, to James Archibald McLeod, and Hannah Elizabeth McLeod. James McLeod was from Brooklyn, Nova Scotia and went to Acadia University. At the time of James’ death, long after World War II, he was reputed to be the oldest living graduate of Acadia. Henry’s mother, Hannah, died from Spanish flu, during the pandemic, when he was three. Henry was an average student, never excelling, but always managing pass grades. From a young age he had a reputation as a fast learner.
McLeod began his military career in 1928, serving with the 5th Saskatchewan Regiment and Regina Rifle Regiment until 1934. McLeod joined the Royal Canadian Air Force on 02-09-1940. He graduated from training on 01-04-1941 and arrived in Great Britain on 09-05-1941, attending 57 OTU. World War II
McLeod began fighter sweeps over France in July 1941 with No. 485 Squadron and No. 411 RCAF. By May 1942 he had scored five victories. On 13-10-1942 McLeod was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. After his promotion to Squadron Leader, he received personal congratulations from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
In September 1942, Henry McLeod, participated in an engagement against at least 20 Messerschmitt 109’s Despite the odds, Flight Lieutenant McLeod so skilfully led his section during the combat that the enemy force was completely broken up. This officer has always displayed the greatest determination to engage the enemy and has destroyed at least 5 and damaged a number of other hostile aircraft. His leadership has been most inspiring.
Soon afterwards McLeod was moved to No. 603 Squadron on Malta and in July joined No 1435 Squadron. On 03-11-1942, he received a Bar to his DFC for his actions in the island’s defence. It is believed McLeod was credited with 12 enemy aircraft at this point. During his time in Malta, it is thought McLeod may have shot down and killed the 47 victory ace Heinz “Figaro” Golinski on 16-10-1942.. “Figaro” Golinski was credited with 47 victories. He recorded 46 victories over the Eastern front, including 13 Sturmoviks.
One day in October, 1942, he took part in an attack on a formation of six Junkers 88’s and shot two of them down. Although his aircraft was damaged in the combat he led his section in an attack on another formation of nine enemy bombers. Afterwards, he skilfully flew his damaged aircraft to base. During a period of five days Flight Lieutenant McLeod destroyed five enemy aircraft in the defence of Malta. A gallant fighter, this officer has destroyed 12 and damaged many more enemy aircraft.
On 04-12-1942 it was reported that McLeod had been sent for a rest in Britain after destroying 13 enemy aircraft in three months. Included in his claims were seven Messerschmitt Bf 109s, three Junkers Ju 88s and three Macchi C.202.
The German municipality of Glabbeek commemorated the crashes of 3 aircraft in Glabbeek for the past 3 years. But André Bruyninckx recently discovered the crash of the fourth aircraft in Kapellen through new research. On 19-04-1944 at 18.50 GMT a German fighter-bomber type Messerschmitt BF 110 of the 11.Staff of the Nachtjagdgeschwader 1, under command of Oberstleutnant Hans-Joachim Jabs, crashed in Kapellen, with the airfield in Brustem near Sint-Truiden as base. Eyewitnesses heard the chatter of machine guns and saw the German plane crash down burning between Tramstraat and Kromstraat in Kapellen. The aircraft of the German Luftwaffe was shot down by a fighter aircraft of the type Spitfire Mark IX serial number MK321. A few Spitfires that flew very low above Glabbeek noticed the Messerschmidt hanging at the same height and squadron leader Henry Wallace “Wally” McLeod followed the enemy plane. He started firing from a distance of 300 m, firing no less than 79 grenades with his 20-mm Hispano gun and another 200 shots with his machine guns. Large parts of the German plane broke down and the starboard engine caught fire. The German pilot pulled up, was no longer able to reach heights, tumbled down and exploded on the ground. The McLeod plane’s engine had failed after the attack, but he got the engine working again. The German pilot Unteroffizier Alfred Wachtel, born on 21-10-1921 in Schwarzwaldau did not survive the crash. Oberstleutnant Jabs survived the war and following the war he became a successful businessman in the field of heavy agricultural equipment. He died 26-10-2003 old age 85, in Lüdenscheid.
On 05-09-1944 McLeod was appointed a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order for 250 missions and 21 aerial victories, plus three probably destroyed and 12 damaged. McLeod scored most of his kills in the Spitfire Mk V, scoring 13 kills, two probables, 11 damaged and 1 shared damaged.
Death and burial ground of McLeod, Henry Wallace “The Eagle Of Malta”
On 27-09-1944, McLeod was leading a section of six aircraft of his squadron on high patrol as part of the fighter Wing led by Wing Commander James Edgar “Johnnie” Johnson over Nijmegen, Netherlands. Johnnie Johnson survivesd the war and died of cancer on 30-01-2001, age 85. During the action McLeod went missing. Johnson made repeated calls over the R/T, but McLeod did not answer. After landing, Johnson could see his friend had not returned. Johnson questioned the rest of the pilots and one reported seeing Wally chasing a lone Messerschmitt. Knowing McLeod’s character, Johnson believed he would have attacked regardless of the enemy fighter’s advantage:
I feel certain that he wouldn’t have let go of the 109 until the issue had been decided one way or the other. There was no other aircraft in the area [that Johnson had seen and they must have fought it out together, probably above the cloud. To start with he would have been at a disadvantage, for the 109 was already several thousand feet higher. I think the Messerschmitt got him. It was always all or nothing for Wally.
Remains of his Spitfire IX (NH425) were discovered in September 1949. McLeod was still in the wreckage of his Spitfire, in the outskirts of Wesel, near Duisburg, just inside the German border. He was buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Rheinberg. McLeod, age 28, may have been shot down by Major Siegfried “Gustav” Freytag of Jagdgeschwader 77 flying a Bf 109, who claimed on this day, the only Spitfire shot down in the Duisburg area near Wesel for his 101st victory. Freytag survived the war and died on 02-06-2003 in Marseille, age 83. He was interred in the Carré militaire of the Institution des Invalides de la Légion étrangère in Puyloubier.
McLeod, Henry Wallace MCLeod, “The Eagle Of Malta” is buried on the Rheinberg War Cemetery, Rheinberg, Kreis Wesel, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany