Lester, Howard Charles “Chuck”

Howard, or Chuck as he was known to his mates, was born on the 29th October 1916 in Adelaide, South Australia, and he enlisted in the RAAF on the 23rd June 1940.

Chuck’s RAAF personnel file has not been digitised and is unavailable for research purposes, so personal information is limited. However, we do know that after arriving in England, he was initially posted to 605 Squadron RAF. He then transferred to 457 Squadron for a few weeks to learn how to fly Spitfires, before returning to 605 Squadron. He then embarked with the Squadron to Malta, and a short while later, he was transferred to 185 Squadron RAF, also in Malta. On the island, he fought in the grimmest days of the war, being seriously wounded on the 18th March 1942. It is hard to convey here the desperate conditions that prevailed at the time. Eventually, Chuck was repatriated to the UK and then back to Australia. Unfortunately, he never fully recovered from his wounds and he was discharged on the 15th November 1945 from No.7 RAAF Hospital in Adelaide, SA.

By was of explanation, in October 1941, 605 Squadron was deployed to Singapore after fighting briefly in the closing stages of the Battle of Britain. On the way to the Far East, the Squadron appears to have been split in two, as a detachment from the Squadron is recorded as having operated from Hal Far, Malta, from the 10th January to the 27th February 1942. Chuck was obviously with that detachment before he was transferred to 185 Squadron. Lester Howard C. Pic 4

185 Squadron had been formed for a third time on 27 April 1941 on Malta. It operated the Hawker Hurricane for nearly a year, before the first Spitfires arrived early in 1942. Wikipedia states that the Squadron was absorbed into an OTU on the 8th April 1940 before re-forming in Malta on the 12th May 1941 as a fighter squadron.

It appears that while he was based on Malta, chuck would have flown Hawker Hurricanes. The photo is of 185 Squadron’s Hurricanes at Hal Far, Malta, in 1951.

Phil Listemann (The History of 457 Squadron) and David Hamilton
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association