Battle of Britain London Monument – S/Ldr. R B Lees

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Privacy Statement The Airmen’s Stories – S/Ldr. R B Lees


Ronald Beresford Lees was born on 27th April 1910 at Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia. He was educated at Prince Alfreds College and St. Peters College, Adelaide and later the University there.

In January 1930 Lees went as an RAAF flight cadet to Point Cook. After completing his flying training he sailed for England in January 1931 and transferred to the RAF on a short service commission, starting on 18th March. A week later he joined 29 Squadron at North Weald.

Lees was posted to 4 FTS Abu Sueir on 10th May 1935 as an instructor. Back in the UK, he took command of 72 Squadron at Church Fenton on 8th December 1938.


Over Dunkirk on 2nd June 1940 Lees destroyed a Ju87. He was posted away from 72 on 26th July. He was back with the squadron on 31st August on attachment. On 2nd September his Spitfire, K9840, was severely damaged in combat south of Dungeness. Lees crashed on return to Hawkinge, wounded.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 22nd October 1940).

On 9th January 1941 Lees became Station Commander at RAF Coltishall, as an Acting Wing Commander.

He was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 26th December 1941) and remained at Coltishall until September 1942.

Lees was then posted to command 324 Wing in the Middle East, part of the Allied Forces about to invade North Africa. On 25th November 1942 he shot down a SM79.

In 1st March 1943 Lees was SASO at HQ 242 Group and on 26th May he went to HQ Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force. He was made a CBE (gazetted 2nd June 1943), a CB (gazetted 1st January 1946) and Commander of the Legion of Merit (US).

Lees was ADC to the King from 1949 to 1952 and then the Queen in 1952/ 53.

He was knighted in 1961 and made a KCB (gazetted 10th June 1961). Lees retired from the RAF on 3rd February 1966, as an Air Marshal, and returned to Australia.

He died in May 1991.

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