Hansell, Lionel James (Flight Lieutenant, b.1916 - d.1977)


Collection relating to the Second World War service of 403924 Flight Lieutenant Lionel James Hansell, 453 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, 1941-1945.

Wallet 1 of 1 – Consists of one transcript of the letters and diaries of Flight Lieutenant Lionel James Hansell. The transcribed letters and diaries date between July 1941 and July 1945, and cover Flight Lieutenant Hansell’s embarkation, pilot training in Canada, operational training in the United Kingdom, and service with 453 Squadron. In his writings, Flight Lieutenant Hansell records experiences such as his embarkation from Australia, sightseeing in New Zealand and Fiji, life on board the ship, arriving in Canada, travelling across Canada on a train, settling into his new training camp, attending lectures, doing training flights, going on leave in nearby towns, completing exams, attending social events, receiving mail from home, qualifying as a pilot, visiting the United States of America, embarking for the United Kingdom, a tumultuous journey over the Atlantic Ocean, his first impressions of the United Kingdom, travelling in Ireland while on leave, being made welcome in civilians’ homes, being posted to an Advanced Flying Unit, practicing flying, being posted to an Operational Training Unit, flying Spitfire aircraft, doing a test in decompression chamber, practicing aerobatics, and seeing films. He goes on to write about being posted to 453 Squadron, practicing formation flying and air firing, playing cricket, having several near-accidents while flying, flying on patrols over the French and Belgian coasts, intercepting enemy aircraft, being involved in aerial battles, receiving a commission, flying in shipping reconnaissance operations, being caught in heavy flak, losing fellow pilots in operations, having leave in London, escorting bombers to Europe on operations, drinking in the mess, going to parties, damaging enemy aircraft in flying battles, being posted to 1 Air Delivery Flight, ferrying aircraft to various aerodromes, German air raids on London, meeting old friends, becoming ill, recovering in hospital, being on sick leave, and returning to Australia via the United States. This transcript also contains poetry by Flight Lieutenant Hansell.

History / Summary

Flight Lieutenant Lionel James Hansell enlisted to the Royal Australian Air Force on 31 March 1941. After his initial flying training, Flight Lieutenant Hansell travelled to Canada to complete his fighter pilot training under the Empire Air Training Scheme. In early 1942, he went to the United Kingdom, where he completed his operational training. Flight Lieutenant Hansell went on to serve as a fighter pilot, flying Supermarine Spitfire aircraft with 453 Squadron. With this unit, he participated in defensive air patrols and offensive strikes over Europe. After his operational tour, he was transferred to 1 Air Delivery Flight. In mid-1944, Flight Lieutenant Hansell became ill with a duodenal ulcer. He returned to Australia, and was discharged on 25 July 1945.