Leslie Samuel Hall was the son of a postman and was born and lived in the Midlands. He married in Burton-on-Trent in December 1930 and went on to have two sons and two daughters. During the war he served in one of the R.A.F.'s barrage balloon squadrons which was deployed to protect Chelmsford from November 1942. Leslie was killed in the town in May 1943 during the 'Chelmsford Blitz'. His home was in Burton-on-Trent.
Leslie Samuel HALL, Leading Aircraftman, 993 (Balloon) Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Killed in an air raid near New Writtle Street, Chelmsford. Aged 35
During the Second World War Leslie served in the Royal Air Force as Leading Aircraftman 1121572 in 993 (Balloon) Squadron. The squadron assembled at Horsham St. Faith in Norfolk in April 1942, and in November of that year it was at Ipswich, Suffolk, helping to protect the town from German air raids.
Following successful low-level German attacks on Chelmsford in July and October 1942, 993 (Balloon) Squadron was moved to the town from Ipswich on 4th November 1942.
The squadron established balloon barrage in Chelmsford from 31 sites across the town. The Squadron’s H.Q. was set up at ‘The Priory’ in Writtle with additional accommodation nearby at ‘Ratcliffs’ in The Green, Writtle. Each of the three Flights also had their own H.Q.s in Chelmsford. Hydrogen for the balloons was obtained from the top secret plant at Chelmsford Gas Works, and balloon repairs were undertaken by R.A.F. Felixstowe. Work on the Squadron’s vehicles was carried out at the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (R.E.M.E.) workshops in Broomfield Road, Chelmsford.
In the early hours of 14th May 1943 Chelmsford experienced what was to prove to be its heaviest air raid of the war. In a sharp attack that lasted for just over an hour the German air force dropped a large number of high explosive bombs, incendiaries and parachute landmines which caused extensive damage to residential, commercial and industrial properties in the town, and led to the deaths of more than 50 people; among them 35 year-old Leslie.
He was one of three balloonists killed when a 250 kg high explosive bomb fell and detonated within the compound of 993 Squadron’s barrage balloon site 26, some 273 feet north of the east end of Chelmsford City F.C.’s New Writtle Street stadium. The other men killed in the incident were , and . Another three, Leading Aircraftmen H. Potkins, F. Ashworth and H.F.L. Hobson were injured and taken to hospital. The bomb left a crater 20 feet across by 5 feet deep, while the balloon was lost and the winch badly damaged. Blast from the device seriously damaged seven maisonettes in a nearby cul-de-sac - numbers 8, 9, 10,12, 13, 14 & 16 Hayes Close.
Today Leslie lies in Burton-Upon-Trent Cemetery (General Section, Grave 5831).
993 (Balloon) Squadron provided a deterrent to the Luftwaffe’s low-level raids on Chelmsford until the end of January 1944 when it was redeployed as part of the preparations for the Normandy invasion. On its removal from Chelmsford the Squadron consisted of 16 officers and 388 other ranks.
Leslie’s widow died in 1959.
Leslie was born at Barn Farm, Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire on 13th January 1908, the son of Samuel Thomas Hall and Mary Elizabeth Hall (nee Eyre). His father, who was a postman at the time of Leslie’s birth, had been born in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire in 1880; his mother in Newborough, Staffordshire, the previous year. The couple had married in Staffordshire in 1904.
In 1911 the census found three year-old Leslie living with his parents and a cousin at 254 Wetmore Road in Burton-upon-Trent. At the time Leslie's father was a postman.
On 8th December 1930 Leslie married Daisy Fordham at the Register Office, Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire. At the time Leslie was aged 22, his bride a year older. He lived at 241 Wetmore Road in Burton-upon-Trent and was employed as a Post Office Letter Carrier (Temporary). Daisy lived at 52 Dale Street in Burton-upon-Trent.
The couple went on to have daughters in 1931 and 1934, and two sons in 1936 and 1940 respectively.