On June 1, 1943, British actor, Leslie Howard, was killed when his plane, traveling from Lisbon to England, was shot down by German aircraft over the Bay of Biscay. All 17 persons on board were killed.
Theories abound as to why the plane was attacked – ranging from mistaken identity (Howard’s traveling companion bore a resemblance to Winston Churchill and Howard to one of Churchill’s bodyguards, also Churchill was known to be traveling from North Africa during that same period), to intelligence or espionage connections (Lisbon was a hotbed of espionage and Howard was rumored to have ties to British intelligence), to a grudge by Goebbels against Howard (who was very active in British anti-Nazi propaganda campaigns).
Regardless of the cause, the loss of Howard at only the age of 50 was tragic. His talents as a stage and screen actor continue to live on in legendary roles in Gone with the Wind, Pygmalion, Of Human Bondage and many others.
As a footnote, Howard’s death was reported in the same edition of The London Times that included the death of Major William Martin, a man who never actually existed, but played a major role in Operation Mincemeat.