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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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57 squadron badge
20/21.10.1943 No. 57 Squadron Lancaster III JB234 DX-E P/O. Frank E.S. Parker

Operation: Leipzig

Date: 20/21st October 1943 (Wednesday/Thursday)

Unit: No. 57 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: JB234

Code: DX-E

Base: East Kirkby, Lincolnshire.

Location: Arneburg, Germany (River Elbe)

Pilot: P/O. Frank Ernest Saville Parker 52880 RAF Age ? Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Robert Alfred Chumbley 1395990 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

Nav: F/O. Peter Simpson Porteous 132018 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Cyril Thomas Harston 1439959 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John O'Leary 1330779 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. John Knox Read AUS/426155 RAAF Age 22. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Charles Wharton 1031763 RAFVR Age 20. Killed


Took off at 17:31 hrs to attack the very distant German city of Leipzig. This was the first serious raid with 358 Lancasters taking part. The weather conditions at the time were described as "appalling" which resulted in very scattered bombing. No reports were available form Leipzig regarding damage done but the cost to the allied was huge with 16 Lancasters lost - regarded as an acceptable figure! A further 5 crashed or were damaged during landing on return.

Left: Sgt. Robert Alfred Chumbley (Courtesy Sylvia Pratt-via Eileen Pitman) Right: F/O. Peter Simpson Porteous (courtesy Alison Almond, great niece of Peter)

Lancaster JB234 was shot down between 00:00 hrs and 01:00 hrs although no Luftwaffe night fighter claim can be found for this aircraft. The bodies of Sgt. Chumbley, Sgt. O;Leary, F/O. Porteous and Sgt Harston were recovered from the wreckage of the aircraft which crashed at Arneburg and were first buried in the local cemetery. Sgt. Read's body was recovered from the river Elbe some time later and first buried at Havernburg in the town cemetery, P/O. Parker was washed up at Sandau and buried there. Sgt. Wharton's body was recovered also some time later. 

All graves were described as well tendered with crosses and flowers placed by local people. The crew were reinterred in the Commonwealth War graves cemetery Berlin in May 1947 after a full investigation by both British and Russian disinterring team led by Captain Fitzgerald of 54 GCU.

Right: Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery (courtesy CWGC)

Burial details:

P/O. Frank Ernest Saville Parker. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery Grave 9.H.27. No further details currently available - are you able to assist?

Sgt. Robert Alfred Chumbley. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery Grave 8.C.2. Son of Mr. and Mrs. 1 I. Chumbley, of Ponders End, Middlesex, England.

F/O. Peter Simpson Porteous. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery Grave 8.C.1. Son of James Duncan Porteous, F.C.I.B., and Elizabeth Porteous, of East Croydon, Surrey, England.

Sgt. Cyril Thomas Harston. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery Grave 8.C.4. Son of William and Kate Harston, of Bolsover, Derbyshire, England.

Sgt. John O'Leary. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery Grave 8.C.3. Son of Timothy and Violet Beatrice O'Leary, of Whetstone, Middlesex, England.

Fl/Sgt. John Knox Read. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery Grave 8.J.35. Son of the Revd. George Knox Read and Mrs. M. Read, of Hornsby, New South Wales, Australia, and stepson of Constance Mary Read, of Chatswood, New South Wales. Australia.

Sgt. Charles Wharton. Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery Grave 5.C.21. Son of Charles and Rhoda Wharton, of Duckmanton, Derbyshire, England.

Researched for Sylvia Pratt - niece of Sgt. Robert Alfred Chumbley and for all relatives of other crew members. With thanks to the following: Eileen Pitman for her help guiding Sylvia and obtaining the scans. Article researched following local Norfolk appeal via the Eastern Daily Press for relatives of fallen aircrew to contact us. Other sources as quoted below.

KTY 29.08.2015 Map added

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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', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. 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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