LeRoy Gover

RAF Eagle Squadron

In April 1941, Leroy Gover met with representatives from the Clayton Knight Committee in Oakland, California, which was established to enlist American men wanting to volunteer for service with the British RAF. By this time Gover had amassed more than 800 hours flying time in various aircraft. After passing his exams, he flew to Bakersfield, California to begin his RAF Refresher Training. On August 25, 1941 Gover’s aircraft, piloted by an instructor, crashed after entering a box canyon. Both men were unhurt. This was Gover’s only crash in his sixty-five years of flying. Gover finished the RAF Course a month ahead of schedule and graduated on October 24, 1941.

On November 13, 1941 Gover and 13 other classmates were commissioned pilots in the RAF Volunteer Reserve. A week later they boarded the transport ship Emma Alexander and headed for England, arriving at Liverpool on December 7, 1941.

Gover was assigned to the 53rd Operational Training Unit at Llandow and after graduating in February 1942, transitioned into an instructor role at the school. In March he was assigned to the 66th Fighter Squadron based at Portreath, England and in August transferred to the 133rd Fighter Squadron at Biggin Hill. 

In September, 1942 Gover transfered to the United States Army Air Corp and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. Gover joined the newly formed 336th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Group, Eighth Air Force. On January 16, 1943, Gover made his last flight in a British Spitfire and switched to the American built P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter. During the war Gover would be transferred to the 334th Fighter Squadron and then back again to the 336th Fighter Squadron. 

On a mission dated May 14, 1943 LeRoy Gover was awarded the Silver Star for bravery in combat on an escort mission. During the mission Gover was credited with shooting down three German Aircraft with one probable and one damaged, a total of five altogether. 

In March 1944 Major Gover returned to the United States. He became Commander of a Training Group in Florida, was later assigned to Luke Field in Phoenix, Arizona, and Bakersfield, California. Gover continued to fly the P-47 and later the F-86 Saber Fighter. In 1948 Gover worked as the Solo Pilot in the Warner Brothers Film Fighter Squadron. In 1962 LeRoy Gover retired from the Air Force, with the rank of Colonel.

After Gover’s death in 1997, The Friends were instrumental in acquiring his collection of photos, diary entries, and log books for the Academy and the McDermott Library.


British Refresher Course, Bakersfield, California

Diary, August 10, 1941:  Arrived in Bakersfield, Calif. By Mainliner – Took the Primary Flight Instruction In Stearman PT17’s – Took The Advanced Course In North American AT6A’s – 650 h.p. Pratt & Whitney – WASPS – 2 Place Closed – Low Wing – Monoplane Graduated October 24 – 1941. Cracked Up Stearman PT17 on Aug. 25, 1941 – Total Loss. Finished Course Oct. 24th 1941.  Diary Page

Operational Training Unit, Llandow, Wales

Diary, February 23, 1942:  They are sure treating us nice on our last day here. Had bacon and an egg for Breakfast. It is just 8:30 A.M. & I have a lot of checking in to do so see you later. –– 9:30 P.M. I was told this PM. That I am to stay here an be an instructor. The rest of the boys are all leaving. They keep two of the fellows of each class as Instructors, above average Pilot Jay & I are the ones. So we don’t have to pack up after all. The rest of the class are being sent all over England.  Diary Page

Eleanor Roosevelt

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt "reviewing" the troops. Lee Gover far left.

Diary, November 4, 1942:  Mrs. Roosevelt came up to see us. We went up and put on a show for her. Went to the movies this evening. then a beer and on to the billet and to bed.  Diary Page

336th Squadron, Debden, Essex

Lee Gover in his P-47, January 1943

Air Medal

Diary, February 25, 1943:  Big Day today – General Hunter came up to our decorations Parade & Gave Seven of us Air Medals – then Air Marshall Liegh-Mallory – RAF – Gave us a Medallion for our service in the Royal Air Force. Was a very nice affair. And I finally got myself a g---.  Diary Page

Diary Entry, May 14, 1943

…At about 300 yards line astern I fired a short burst, then closed a little more and gave a four second burst. The e/a then rolled to the starboard and pieces started coming off the ship. This was followed by increased black smoke and the e/a then went into an uncontrolled spiral. I CLAIM ONE FW Destroyed (F.W. 190). (Thumbnail, Right, Shows Page From Flight Log)  Diary Pages

F-86 Sabre

Lee Gover, Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 2, 1951.