Sergeant Leonard Gornall
Len was a fairly late arrival to Drummond's crew and was on board the night of the Godmanchester crash. He was the best friend of Warrant Officer Donald Jeffs, the only survivor of the second MacRoberts Reply, they would go for drinks in between raids at the Golden Lion Hotel in St Ives or the Pike and Eel in Needingworth. He went onto join 138 'Special Op's' at RAF Tempsford. In this fairly blurry photo Len is second left, this is one of only two photos we have of Len, our search for a better one goes on. This is his 138 Squadron crew, all of whom baled out over France, they all made it back thanks to the escape lines operated by the French resisitance.
RAF Tempsford, home of 138 and 161 Squadron, both were tasked with special operations, dropping supplies and/or agents into occupied Europe. These missions were nearly always single aircraft operations and involved trips to France, Belgium, Holland, Scandinavia, Czechoslovakia and many other countries. Michele and I were honoured to be invited to their bi-annual veteran and family day in the summer of 2018 and were able to visit the famous 'Gibraltar Barn' where agents were kitted out before boarding their aircraft on their secret mission. So many very brave airmen and agents.
Below is the only runway left at Tempsford, from this strip of concrete so many airmen and agents flew off to an uncertain future
The view of Gibraltar Farm from the end of the runway. Agents would leave the barn, board the aircraft, and not speak a word to the crew. They in turn would have no knowledge of the person they were carrying, if they had to bale out they would not be able to divulge information to the enemy.
Gibraltar Farm and its simple memorial plaque
A simple cross and 'Stirling to Essen' pays its respects to Sergeant Officer Leonard Gornall, the Squadron crests on show in the Barn. Len was promoted to Flying Officer and also awarded a DFC.
The route that Len and his fellow crewmen would have taken to escape to Spain and onto Gibraltar, in the second photo Warrant Officer Donald Jeffs stands by the side of his best friends uniform, which is now owned by The Tempsford Museum and Archives, check out their website for opening times.