Cpl. W/Mech Leslie Ernest Ramsay 1639215 RAFVR
Les Ramsay was born in July 1918 in Kent. A metal worker in civilian life at the time of his enlistment in the RAFVR in August 1942, he had also served in the Territorial Army with the Royal West Kents.
Leslie Ernest Ramsay 1918-1975 (Ramsay family collection)
Selected for training as an RDF Wireless Mechanic, he entered No 6 Signals School and No 6 Radio School at RAF Bolton, and by August 1943 he was qualified. Perhaps overseas posting was already imminent: however it was, in July 1943 Les took the plunge and married Margaret Mary, née Mullarkey. By August 1943 he was at 5 Personnel Despatch Centre, Padgate, embarking for India on 11 September 1943 to land in Bombay after a voyage of four weeks.
In November 1943 AC2 Ramsay was posted to 211 Squadron, later transferring with the rest of the groundcrew at the establishment of its attached servicing unit, 7211 Servicing Echelon. During his service with the Squadron, Les Ramsay was reclassified to Leading Aircraftman in December 1944, and Acting Corporal in December 1945. Never idle, Les found time to buy the components and build his own radio, at a cost of 157 Rupees 8 Annas, and take an active part in the Suqadron entertainments
After the disbanding of the Squadron in March 1946, brief service with 56 FRU (Field Repair Unit) followed back at Yelahanka. By August 1946 his number had come up: repatriated, he was awaiting demob at 101 Personnel Despatch Centre, Kirkham.
Though reluctant to talk about his experiences in the Far East, Les would occasionally, out of the blue, dig out a photo of something from those days and relate some tantalising details of its origin. Les died in 1975. His son Ray recently came across the 211 website, prompting him to revisit his Dad’s box of treasures, carefully guarded by father and son these many years past.
Signals Section 211 Squadron c1945 (Ramsay family collection)
A fabulous shot of a cheerful group in various states of “undress”, surrounding their Flight Lieutenant. Les Ramsay is 2nd from the left, hatless, in the back row. Possibly taken at Chiringa (see for example the Burma Quartet group MT Section Chiringa). It certainly has the same sort of happy atmosphere.
LAC Wireless Mech LE Ramsay, Bombay, c1944 (Ramsay family collection)
The airmen’s reading and writing room: the bamboo basha, Chiringa 1945 (Ramsay family collection)
The airmen’s canteen: again, the usual bamboo basha (Ramsay family collection)
Les and mates: Chiringa May 1945 (Ramsay family collection)
The aftermath of the hurricane on 14 May 1945. Les, centre, is the smallest and rearmost figure.
The stage lighting was Les’ bit.
Base theatre (Ramsay family collection)
Concert party (Ramsay family collection)
Rocks at Bangalore (Ramsay family collection)
A day off for the lads in the local country.
Howra Bridge, Calcutta (Ramsay family collection)
India ancient and modern: bridge, bikes, tram, and oxcart.
Signals Section Christmas Bar 1945: “The Get Some Inn” (Ramsay family collection)
A nice little service joke: the airmen’s cry to civvies: “get some in!” . Christmas 1945 at Don Muang. These hand-made “pubs” were a tradition for the ordinary airmen at Christmas—a little searching around the site will find others, from the Desert days onwards.
Supreme Commander SEAC Lord Mountbatten arrives, Don Muang, January 1946 (Ramsay family collection)
Monty Walters shot of this occasion is from alongside the aircraft.
Lord Mountbatten and the King of Siam, Bangkok 1946 (RAF official)
His Royal Highness the young King of Siam and the Supreme Commander SEAC inspect the RAF Detachment, 19 January 1946, Bangkok. Possibly Les, 4th from the left in the front rank. The celebrations were accompanied by a mass flypast of 211 Squadron and other aircraft. The Victory celebrations were well recorded by Squadron members including Ron Kemp, Des Marsh-Collis, Monty Walters, and in which Tom Taylor took part.
211 Squadron before disbandment, Siam, 1946 (RAF official)
Les wasn’t much for captions, but this one is the same photo (with the same caption) as the print on Des Marsh-Collis’ page.
Les is to be seen highlighted, four rows back, to the left of the port engine. Immediately behind him is a figure in a bush shirt and bush hat.
At Don Muang, they'd eventually extended the runway far enough for Mosquito operations. They at last moved in late Nov 1945, after the long wait back at Akyab in Burma on the Arakan coast of modern Myanmar. So the photo is at Don Muang in Thailand, sometime late in the period between Jan and March 1946.
Don Muang (Ban Dong Muang), an airfield since 1914, is today the main international airport for Bangkok (otherwise Krung Thep), about 20km NNE of the centre of the city along the main highway. It lies on the floodplain next to the railway, klongs not far away.
Ramsay family correspondence and photographs
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Site created 15 Apr 2001, last updated 14 Jan 2022. Page created 7 Oct 2001, last updated 8 May 2020
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