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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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408crest
28/29.08.1942 No.408 Squadron Hampden I AT228 EQ-U F/O Leon G. Lyons

Mission: Saarbrucken

Date: 28/29 August 1942

Unit: No.408 (Goose) Squadron RCAF

Type: Hampden I

Serial: AT228

Code: EQ-U

Base: Balderton, Nottinghamshire

Location: Liesse (Aisne), 15km north west of Laon, France

Pilot: F/O Leon George Lyons, 405315 RAAF Age 26 Killed

Nav: P/O Keith Thomas Pellett, J/9759 RCAF Age 25 Killed

W/Op/AG: F/Sgt. Christopher Norman Chalklen, R/78950 RCAF Age 26 Killed

W/Op/AG: Sgt. Malcolm Stanley Brighouse, 405388 RAAF Age 20 Killed

REASON FOR LOSS

Captain Lyons and crew took off from Balderton at 20:09 hours on a secondary raid on Saarbrucken while the main attack for the night was concentrated on Nuremberg. A total of 113 aircraft from 4 and 5 Group including many new crews who were on their first or second operation. Although the moon was almost full providing good visibility of the target and thought to be lightly defended, it was deemed as unsuccessful by the scattered bombing destroying mostly civilian houses and no military infrastructure.

Of the 113 aircraft assigned to the raid 7 were lost along with 27 valuable crew members killed and another 10 evaded or were taken prisoner.

The Hampden of F/O Lyons reached its target undetected and after releasing its bomb load Pellett the navigator set course for England.


Flying back across northern France in bright moonlight their Hampden and numerous other aircraft from the Nuremberg raid and the raid on Saarbrucken were easily seen and soon intercepted by a large number of German night fighters. In total, 23 aircraft from the Nuremberg raid and 7 from the Saarbrucken raid were brought down with only 4 Nachtjagd losses.

Oblt. Kurt Fladrich from Stab III./NJG4, operating out of an airfield at Laon-Athies scored the second victory of his career shooting down the Hampden of Captain Lyons and crew at 01:52 hours from a height of 2,100 meters. Fladrich would go on to record 15 more victories over the course of the war. He survived the conflict and died in Germany in 1995. See Kracker Luftwaffe Archive.

RCAF 408 Squadron Hampden I
Courtesy Francois Dutil

F/O Leon George Lyons

Leon was born in Barcaldine, Queensland on 11 November 1915. His father worked as a solicitor in Barcaldine where he resided with his second wife and the mother of his nine children. Of the nine, six were girls with Leon being the youngest of the three boys.


Leon was engaged to Elizabeth Catherine Molphy who at the time of his loss, was serving as an Assistant Section Officer with the RAAF stationed at the Movements and Shipping office in Sydney.


Enlisted on 2 March 1941 and completed 2 sorties against the enemy before being lost. He was also a member of the Caterpillar Club for successfully baling out of an aircraft but the circumstances are unknown.

P/O Keith Thomas Pellett

Keith was born in Semans, Saskatchewan on 28 December 1914. His father from Bromley in Kent was a veteran of the Boer War and emigrated to Canada in 1908. His soon-to-be bride Ada, arrived from Essex on 10 September 1909 and was married four days later in Winnipeg, Manitoba. By 1925 the family had moved to Armstrong, British Columbia where Keith completed his high school in 1933. Keith served in the Rocky Mountain Rangers Militia for six years until he moved to Vernon, BC., to take a position as an accountant. He was married to Frances Margaret Van Kleeck on 21 March 1940 and a son, Keith Anthony was born on 6 August 1942. P/O Pellett embarked for the UK on 25 January that same year and sadly would never get to meet young Keith.

Keith enlisted in the RCAF on 12 March 1941 and after initial training at Edmonton, he was posted to No.2 Air Observers School, Edmonton, Alberta on 5 August 1941. Taken on strength at No.2 Bombing and Gunnery School, Mossbank, Saskatchewan on 26 October he graduated with his air observers badge on 6 December 1941. After a month at No.1 Air Navigation School he was posted to 'Y' Depot, Halifax where he gained his commission and awaited his posting overseas.

Arriving at No.3 PRC Bournemouth on 24 March 1942 he was posted to No.2 Observers Advanced Flying Unit at RAF Millom in Cumbria on 24 April and then to No.14 Operational Training Unit at Cottesmore on 19 May. Now with his training completed he was posted for operations with No.408 Squadron on 22 August 1942 with whom he completed two sorties against the enemy.


F/Sgt. Christopher Norman Chalklen

The second Canadian of the crew, Christopher Chalklen was born in St.Thomas, Ontario on 22 April 1916 a younger brother to his sister Margaret. Tragically their mother Jean passed away when Christopher was seventeen years of age. His father remarried soon after and he moved out of the house to live with his married sister on Moore Street in St. Thomas. After spending three years at Arthur Voaden Vocational School, he secured a position at the Medcalf Shoe Company where he worked for six years until a process change forced the company to lay him off in 1939. Taking two short-term positions in the interim, the last being with the Canadian National Railroad, he applied to the RCAF for training as an air gunner in June 1940. After successfully completing his medical he was called up and enlisted in London, Ontario on 9 January 1941.

Upon completion of his mandatory training at the manning depots in Toronto and Picton, he was sent for education upgrading in Toronto in preparation for training as a wireless operator at No.4 Wireless School at Guelph, Ontario.

Christopher passed his wireless operators course with high marks and an “above average” recommendation on 22 November 1941 and was next posted to No.4 Bombing and Gunnery School, Fingal to complete his armament training. One month later he graduated with his wireless operator gunner (WOG) badge on 22 December 1941 with the remarks, “Well suited for the work. Should be very successful as an A.G.”

Posted to the UK he arrived at No.3 PRC on 21 January 1942 and then to No.1 Signals School at RAF Cosford, Shropshire. Posted to No.14 Operational Training Unit, Cottesmore 5 May 1942 where he trained on the Hampden bomber until 11 August when he was next posted to 408 Squadron on the nineteenth of that month.

His OTU graduation remarks read, “Very sound operator, has made one successful trip over enemy territory as First Operator, extremely conscientious worker and reliable man at his job. Should become a first-class operator”.


Sadly ten days later Christopher would fail to return from his first operation with his new squadron.


Please note: Due to a typographical error his name is incorrectly spelled Chalken on some documents and also on the Commonwealth War Graves site and also the Canadian Virtual War Memorial site. We are attempting to get this corrected.

Sgt. Malcolm Stanley Brighouse

Malcolm, the youngest member of the crew was born in Brisbane on 21 February 1922. He attended the State Commercial High School before he enlisted on 29 March 1941. Embarking for the UK on 20 May 1941 he completed six operations before he was lost in action.

Burial Details:

F/O Leon George Lyons. Liesse Communal Cemetery, Aisne. Mil. Plot Row B Grave 16. Son of Robert Francis and Ella Lyons, of Barcaldine, Queensland, Australia.

Liesse France

Liesse, France

P/O Keith Thomas Pellett, Liesse Communal Cemetery, Aisne. Mil. Plot Row B Grave 15. Son of Vivian Thomas Nesbitt and Ada Julia (nee Batt) Pellett and husband of Frances Margaret (nee VanKleeck) Pellett of Armstrong, British Columbia, Canada.

F/Sgt. Christopher Norman Chalklen. Liesse Communal Cemetery, Aisne. Mil. Plot Row B Grave 14. Son of Christopher Chalklen and Jean Morgan, of St. Thomas, Ontario.

Sgt. Malcolm Stanley Brighouse. Liesse Communal Cemetery, Aisne. Mil. Plot Row B Grave 13. Son of Cecil George and Ruby Alice Brighouse, of Wilston, Queensland, Australia.

Sources:

Service Files of the Second World War―War Dead, 1939–1947. Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Canada.
The Canadian Virtual War Memorial, Veterans Affairs Canada


  • Paradie Canadian Archive entry
  • Allied Losses & Incidents Database entry AT228
  • CB 2022-12-05

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    Acknowledgements
    Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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