M.181 First Officer  Alexander Ronald Leslie-Melville 

flag england

b. 13 Dec 1905, Chelsea, London  4 Dec 1940 to Jun-42 

 ata alexander leslie melville1929 1929  ata alexander leslie melville 2  ata alexander leslie melville ATA  


prev. a journalist

prev. exp. 'about 700 hrs'

RAF 1924-30; entered Cranwell from Eton, Jan-24 ; P/O from Dec-25, eventually F/O

Invalided out "solely through being unfit for tropical climates"

RASC Nov-39 to Apr-40 (Driver)

RAE Farnborough Jul-40 to Dec-40, to do Pilot's Notes on aeroplanes. "The work I am doing is a useful one, but I do feel that there must be many better-qualified people to do it who for one reason or another cannot fly, and I really believe I would be more use as a pilot."

1 Sep 1940, he wrote:

"Dear Mr d'Erlanger,

You may not remember me, but we were at Eton together (I was at S.G.L.'s, 1919-23) & I remember you perfectly well, although we did not happen to come across each other very much.

I happened to see Keith Jopp today at Boscombe Down, who told me that you wanted experienced pilots in ATA. I believe you would find that I was all right, & for my part there is nothing I should like more than to get back to flying..."

He was offered a contract on the 16th September; after his 15-minute Tiger Moth flight test, the Chief Flying Instructor recorded that he was "above the average", except that " He flies with a little too much abandon and all turns are too steep"

He was posted to Kirkbride (west of Carlisle, the 16th and last Ferry Pool to be opened), but his father died in October 1941, and he applied for a transfer to be nearer London to wind up the estate. This was not possible, however, and he wrote to ATA a month later:

"I have suffered from Lupus Erythematosus since 1928 ... since joining ATA a year ago I have been able always to go to London to get the regular treatment, from the doctor I have had for years, that this complaint necessitates ... I must therefore request to be posted immediately to White Waltham, with permission to take one day off a week instead of two consecutive days a fortnight."

While this was being considered, he had a car accident, in December 1941; this left him with severe concussion and some 'postconcussional phenomena such as slight giddiness on turning quickly". His doctor wrote "I recommend that he not return to flying for at least three months."

In fact, he did not return to flying until May 1942, doing a refresher course from 8 May to 2 June. He had made arrangements to move into a small cottage owned by Anthony Phelps (q.v.), but before that could happen he was killed in a flying accident.

janes hurricane

d. 12 June 1942 (Died in ATA Service) - Hurricane AG680 crashed into a hill at a height of over 1500ft in Keld, N Yorkshire, in poor visibility and low cloud.

He was blamed for the accident, having persisted too far over high ground in bad weather. Also, "He failed to obtain weather information for his route before taking off and continued to fly in conditions worse than those prescribed in ATA Standing Orders."


Buried Maidenhead Cemetery

 "They shall mount with wings as eagles"

 Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):download grey


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