Date of Birth: April 20, 1920
Place of Birth: Riley, Kansas
Father and Mother’s Names: Ross William Davenport and Leona Elizabeth (Willis) Davenport
Spouse and Children’s Names: June F. Davenport (no children)
Date Entered Service: December 27, 1941 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Service Branch: Navy Reserves
Service Number: 6281190
Rank: Aviation Radioman Second Class
Division/Company/Unit info: VB-110 Bomber Squadron.
Awards and Commendations: Air Medal (Posthumous)
Riley Connection: Born and grew up in Riley, Kansas.
Date of Death (and Age): December 28, 1943 (age 23)
Place of Death: Haverstack, Devonshire, England (Plane Crash)
Grave Location: Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, Coton, South Cambridgeshire District, Cambridgeshire, England.
Bio: Leo was born in Riley, Kansas to Ross William Davenport and Leona Elizabeth (Willis) Davenport. His father left the family by 1928 and his mother became the head of household. Leo grew up in Riley and in 1942 he joined the Navy. He was married to his wife, June, about the same time. Leo's wife lived at 227 Colorado St. in Manhattan when he died. Four of his brothers also served in WWII. Leo was a crew member in a PB4Y-1 Bomber. His plane and crew were returning from a bombing mission and crashed into high ground, killing all 10 crew members. His remains were laid to rest in the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, Coton, South Cambridgeshire District, Cambridgeshire, England.
Crash Information: 24–28 December 1943: A flotilla of 12 German destroyers attempted to provide cover for a blockade runner, Alstereufer. Several missions were run against the enemy ships over a period of five days. The blockade runner was sunk on 27 December by a Czech squadron, leaving the destroyers fleeing for port. The enemy lost three destroyers to British surface units but in the action shot up several squadron aircraft. While returning to base on 28 December after looking for targets, Lieutenant Commander Reedy encountered four He 177 aircraft. In the resultant melee, Reedy’s crew managed to damage one of the enemy, sending it back towards France trailing smoke from a fire in its starboard engine. Postwar examination of German records indicated that He 177A3 Werk No. 5557 from 11/KG40, flown by Hauptman B. Eidhoff, was unable to return to base and crashed into the sea. Eidhoff and his crew of 5 were subsequently reported missing by the Luftwaffe. On the same mission, Lieutenant Parrish and his crew were killed when their aircraft crashed into high ground near Okehampton, Devon (Leo was killed in PB4Y-1).
B-24D-95-CO: 42-40761 VPB-110 28 DEC 43 A/C: PB4Y-1 Location: Haverstack, Devonshire, England BUNO: 63926 Cause: Just prior to leaving the search area, he was joined by #12, just above the cloud tops. An unknown plane came in on #5's starboard quarter and began firing, #5 returned fire. #12 then closed in and fired his deck turret in the general direction of the unknown plane, which then ducked down into the clouds. #5 reported afterwards by voice radio that there had been two Dorniers along side of him. #5 and #12 exchanged headings home and #12 heard #5 talking to his navigator and saying something about taking a heading of 054True, the two plane proceeded independently. An ETA of 2220 was received at 2215 by Flying Control. No further communications were received. It was later determined the aircraft struck level ground on top of a hill on a easterly course at an altitude of 1875-ft and dug a furrow about a quarter of a mile long and ten shot into the space, striking the ground about 400-ft below the side of the hill. Small bits of wreckage and five depth charges were scattered along the top of the hill beginning at the initial point of contact, with most of the aircraft on the hillside demolished and badly burned.
Crew killed: Pilot Lt William Wells Parish A-V(N) UNSR, Ens Donald Nanley Lyons (co-pilot) A-V(N) USNR, Ens Roger W. Lovelace A-V(N) USNR, Amm 2c Arthur James Stork USNR, Amm2c John Edwin Shaffer USN, Rm2c Leo Merrill Davenport USNR, Rm3c John Francis Benson USNR, Amm3c Charles Allen Reynard USNR, Aom3c Alfred Joseph Roddy,Jr. USNR, and Amm3c Dwight Evertt Nash USNR.