Remembered by: Pauline Challis
Date added: 26 Feb 2011
Leslie Arthur Nial was born on 17th June 1914, in Hackney, London, the only son of Mary and Arthur Nial.
He attended the Shacklewell Road School and enjoyed playing cricket in the street where he lived which was fortunately a cul-de-sac with no traffic in those days! In his teenage years Les developed a love of Opera and of Photography, both of which were to stay with him throughout his life. He joined a cycling club, together with two of his cousins, and spent many weekends exploring the South East of England and, on longer holidays Devon, Cornwall and Wales.
On leaving school Les went to work as a clerk, firstly at a dried fruit and spice importers and then at a building firm. It was at a dance at the local 'palais' that Les met Nellie who was to become his wife. They were married on 6th April 1940 shortly after he had received his call-up papers. He enlisted on 24th August 1940 and was posted to Blackpool. He qualified as a Wireless Operator at Yatesbury in July 1941; as an air gunner at Pembrey in May 1942; and as a radar operator at Prestwick in July 1942. Following an Operational Training Unit course at Invergorden, Les joined the newly formed 212 Squadron at Loch Erne in October 1942.
On 23 November 1942 he flew in "C" for Charlie - FP163 Catalina from Loch Erne via Gibraltar, Alexandria, Basra and Bahrein to Karachi Harbour. From there on to what was to be the 'home' of 212 squadron - Korangi Creek which he described as consisting chiefly of sand, rock, and flies.
There followed 84 operational sorties on convoy escort duties and anti-submarine patrols, clocking up some 1273 hours of operational flying. Returning to England in August 1944 he was posted to training duties. Warrant Officer L.A.Nial 1376311 was demobbed on 27th November 1945.
On his return to 'civvy street' Les joined Wandsworth Borough Council and was to spend the rest of his working life in local government in London. During the evenings, after work, he would study to gain his qualifications as a Cost and Works Accountant.
Les and Nellie had a daughter, Pauline and later a son-in-law, Bob and two grandsons, Christopher and Stephen. In later years he enjoyed taking his grandsons to the RAF museums at Hendon and Duxford. Many happy hours were spent answering his grandsons' question, "What did you do in the war, grandad?" The RAF was to remain close to his heart for the whole of his life. Even in the last few years he received a lot of pleasure from the pictures of aircraft in his room -particularly of the Catalina. Les died peacefully on 15th October 2010 at the age of 96 years, much loved and greatly missed.