Date of death: 17.9.1944
Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Family information: Son of Harold Balque and Maggie Hartley
Service number: 954358
According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission he was John Leonard Hartley Sergeant 954358, a Navigator in the RAFVR 128 Squad. He died on 17th September 1944 aged 24 and is buried in the Leopoldsburg War Cemetery. He was the son of Harold Balque and Maggie Hartley of Wrenthorpe, Yorkshire. I found Harold and Margaret Hartley living on The Mount, Silcoates Lane in 1939.
According to the book written by his friend John Mountain, Leonard had been in the choir at St Anne’s from an early age and attended the Grammar School until 1937 when he left to join Stanley Council, studying to become a sanitary inspector.
Leonard was apparently flying in a Mosquito on a night raid to Brunswick, Germany with a Canadian pilot when they had to jump due to the aircraft hitting bad weather.
He was the eldest son and his younger brother Dougie was at the time in Burma with the 14th Army. He returned two years later when a memorial service was held for Leonard at St Anne’s with his sister Ruth singing a solo and a stained-glass window near the choir that had been donated by his parents was unveiled.
The Wakefield Express had reported Leonard as missing in the edition of September 30th 1944, then the following week announced his death:
“THE SUPREME SACRIFICE – Mr and Mrs Hartley of 35, Silcoates Lane, Wrenthorpe, who as stated in our last issue had been informed that their eldest son, Sergeant Navigator J L Hartley (aged 24) was missing over Germany have now been officially informed that he was killed on September 16th. Sergeant Hartley, who was educated at Wakefield Grammar School, was serving as an articled pupil with the Stanley Urban District Council Sanitary Inspector when he volunteered for service in September 1938.”
Further information available from :
“A mountain to climb” by John and Nora Mountain. Self-published book.