William Browning Leith was born on October 29, 1921, in New York, New York, to Thérèse Dimrick Browning, age 24, and William George Fordyce Leith, age 26. His his mother, Theresa remarried Chauncey Holmes, sometime before William was 10.
His stepfather was born in Virginia and was a salesman. His mother was born in New York and his family including a brother Robert and two step-brothers, James and John.The family lived on Forest Avenue for a time then moved to 100 Grace Church Street.
William was a graduate of Avon Old Farms School. He married Natalie Small June 7, 1941 and the couple lived in Tarrytown, NY. William worked for GT Gunn Real Estrate and AnacondaWire and Cable Company before his enlistment.
William enlisted in the US Army Air Corps on February 26, 1943 at the age of 24.
He was First Lieutenant with the
731 Bomb Squadron, 452 Bomber Group, 8th Air Force and his plane was named "Windy Lou".
The 452nd Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Deopham Green, Norfolk, from January 1944. The air crews hit strategic sites in Germany but also supported the movement of ground forces across Europe after D-Day.
On 6 June 1944 itself, the Group bombed coastal defences before the landings. The 452nd Group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for bombing a jet fighter base at Kaltenkirchen, northern Germany, on 7 April 1945, under intense pressure from enemy fighters and anti-aircraft flak.
On 11/5/1944, his B-17, the Windy Lou, took off from its base in England, its bombing target was Ludwigshaven, Germany. The Windy Lou was struck by enemy fire and lost three engines.
The Windy Lou, with three engines out but under control, was seen dropping behind just after the Rally Point and was lost in the clouds. It was last seen at coordinates 40*31'N and 08*55'E. Time was 11:35 hrs; altitude was 25,000 ft., with a heading of 330 degrees.
Lieutenant Leith and the flights gunner were killed. The other five members of the crew were captured and taken to POW camps.
This was Williams 15th bombing mission.
At the time of his death he was survived by his wife, his brothers and his parents. William B. Leith is buried at White Plains Rural Cemetery, White Plains NY.
★ World War II Victory Medal★ Purple Heart★ American Campaign Medal★ Army Presidential Unit Citation★ Army Good Conduct Medal★ European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign