Letch, Lieutenant Harold Alexander MC MID

No 1 Sqn AFC

Harold Letch came from Melbourne and was born on 3 May 1894. On 19 August 1914 he ceased working as a Clerk and joined the 1st Signal Troop AIF in Melbourne and, thanks to his two years’ experience in the AMF, he was immediately promoted to Corporal. He left Melbourne on HMAT A10 Karoo on 20 October and landed at Cape Helles with the British 29th Division in May 1915
before moving to Anzac Cove.

After the end of the Gallipoli campaign, he was commissioned in the 2nd Light Horse in May 1916, and served as the regiment’s Signals Officer. He was promoted to Lieutenant in December. In March 1917 he was Mentioned in Despatches for gallant conduct in the field. In November 1917 he was wounded in the leg and was awarded the Military Cross on 1 January 1918; the citation:
For conspicuous gallantry in action during the second Battle of Gaza on 19th April 1917. As
Regimental Signalling Officer he displayed great coolness and pluck in supervising and assisting in
laying of telephone lines under heavy shell and machine gun fire, and also in maintaining
communications which were repeatedly broken by shell fire. His devotion to duty in this and in
previous engagements have been conspicuous.

In January 1918 he joined No 67 (Australian) Sqn RFC for training as an observer; he was formally transferred to the AFC in June.

Lt Letch was mentioned in the Official History on a number of occasions: on 3 May, he was flying with Lt G V Oxenham in Bristol Fighter B1225, in company with Lts A R Brown and G Finlay in B1149, when they jointly forced down an enemy two-seater near Suweile and shot it up on the ground; on 11 June, he and Lt A R Brown, flying in Bristol A7200, forced a German Rumpler two seater to land near Amman and fired 400 rounds into the downed machine; on 24 July, he and Lt J M Walker shot down a two seater north of Medel Yaba (shared with Capt G C Peters and Lt J H Traill); on 21 August, he and Lt H S R Maughan were engaged in attacking enemy anti-aircraft guns during a bombing raid on Amman.

He was killed in action south-west of Sameil on 22 August 1918 while flying in Bristol F2B B1222, flown by Lt J M Walker, who was also killed. The airmen fought a German Rumpler two-seater, flown by Ltn Sakonski and Ltn Moser of Flieger Abteilung 301, and the Bristol’s fuel tank was hit, causing the aeroplane to catch fire. The Australians’ bodies were recovered and buried. The German machine was forced down and captured by Capt A R Brown and Lt G Finlay flying in Bristol B1284; it was Capt Brown’s 5th, and final, confirmed victory.

LT H A Letch MC MiD is buried in Grave AA 21 at Ramleh War Cemetery, Palestine.

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