Promoted to the rank of Sergeant on September 13, 1941.
Awarded the Pilot Flying badge on September 13, 1941.
Assigned to the 419 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force on February 26, 1942.
Letter from R.C.A.F. Casualty Officer:
Dear Mr. LeBlanc,
Further to my letter dated January 24 concerning your nephew, Flight Sergeant Charles Emile LeBlanc, the following is an extract from a letter received at these Headquarters from H. Captain Bourgoise L., which is self-explanatory.
"With your letter of the 26th February we succeeded in finding that Flight Sergeant LeBlanc has been buried at Gooreind near Wuustwezel, Belgium. The 17th of June '42 at 04 hrs he tried to take his plane down. The others had jumped off and some were taken prisoner, the others went their way. He came down and hit trees and was killed, but the plane did not take fire and he was still at the wheel of command the Germans and Belgium police took him off dead. The Belgium police found a rosary in his pocket and told the Catholic priest of the place, who succeeded in getting permission from the German Officer to give him a Catholic burial. A German platoon paid him the honours of a hero ect. A German Officer made a speech at his burial and said LeBlanc ect., so these people got his name that way in hearing this Officer, for the Germans had taken all his papers and belongings away. These people put a cross, with LeBlanc written on, right on this tomb. We saw the priest and all the other people and they gave us photos of the burial which we have sent to the folks at home. I'm sending these informations thinking that they will interest you and might be of some use to your department."
Letter from former crew member:
I am trying to find the home town or place of birth of my skipper, Sgt C. Emile LeBlanc, Captain of Wellington Bomber "N" for Nuts, X3359, 419 Squadron stationed at Mildenhall, Suffolk, United Kingdom.
He was killed in a raid on Essen, Germany on June 16-17, 1942. I was a member of his crew who survived that crash and spent three years as a POW (Prisoner Of War).
He is buried at Adegem Cemetery in Belgium, I believe.
I do not have his service number but hope you might help me with this matter. He was from Nova Scotia, Canada.
Eric A. Winkler J/96415.
419 Squadron Wellington III X3359 VR-N - Essen, Germany
Took off from RAF Mildenhall at 23:55.
About 30 minutes out from the target, engine problems developed from the excessive vibration of starboard propeller. The vibration from the propeller damaged bearings and oil seals and soon the engine overheated. With only one other operating engine the Wellington lost most of the ability to hold it's altitude.
Sgt. Leblanc the aircrafts pilot feathered the engine, and jettisoned the bombs to lighten the load. ( from information gathered more recently, the Wellington may have made it to Essen and there dropped it's bombs. It is not clear from remarks made by Angers or Watson from their MI9 reports.) But the Wellington continued to loose height, LeBlanc's next step was to dump fuel. Dumping enough to make a difference but to be able to still make it home. ( This information on dumping fuel is not mentioned in either reports made by Watson and Angers. Nor is it mentioned in a letter from Watson to Emile LeBlanc's brother some time after Watson made it back to England.
Watson did mention icing conditions which are not mentioned from the source that this page is based on. They were continuing to loose height and only managed to level off at about 2,500 feet. With great care and ability Leblanc managed to inch it back up to 3,000 feet all the while no one had noticed they had wandered off course and heading for the heavily defended port city of Antwerp.
Alone and caught in the concentrated fire power of hundreds of guns all along there path, with little amount of control the aircraft became an easy target and was hit. At a height of around 1,000 feet the bailout order was given, Watson helped the young pilot, Leblanc into his parachute. A chute that he would not have the chance to use, he had deliberately remained at the controls so that the others had a better chance to get out of the hopeless Wellington.
The crew reported during their interviews later after being liberated that Sgt Leblanc had kept his sense of humour about him all the while with the things literally failing all around them. The aircraft came down near Wuustwezel 16 km to the North East of Antwerp. Two of the crew became Evaders while two more were interned in POW camps. (419 Squadron Association)
Pilot: R/76272 Sgt Charles Emile Leblanc RCAF - Adegem Canadian War Cemetery
Navigator: J/7802 Plt Off John Henry Watson RCAF - Evaded via Comete Line.
Wireless Operator:R/71755 Sgt Eric Alfred Winkler RCAF - PoW/Stalag Luft 3 Sagan & Belaria,
PoW Number 366.
Wireless Operator/Air Gunner:R/77252 Sgt N W Bradley RCAF PoW Stalag Luft 3 Sagan & Belaria, PoW Number 309
Air Gunner: R/78161 Sgt Joseph Arthur Angus Bruneau Angers RCAF - Evaded via Comete Line.
Personal details have been collected from official Service Records and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. Some of the additional information has been provided by War Diaries, Libera Me (G.E. Spittael), Polder Fighting (R.W. Catsburg), Veterans Affairs Canada, WW2 Talk, Aircrew Remembered and other sources. The commonwealth-adegem.com website is not responsible for incorrect information.
Everything has been collected and processed voluntarily by Michael van de Velde, Netherlands. Along the way I had great support from expert researchers and other volunteers. Thank you!