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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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No. 97 Squadron
25/26.08.1944 97 Squadron Lancaster III PB398 OF:N Sqn Ldr. Stuart M.P. Parkes DSO

Operation: Darmstadt, Germany

Date: 25th/26th August 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit No: 97 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: PB398

Code: OF:N

Base: RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire

Location: Rothenberg, Germany

Pilot: Sqn Ldr. Stuart Martin Parkeshouse Parkes DSO 114010 RAFVR Age 24. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. George Flint 1824180 RAFVR Age 19. PoW (1)

Nav: Fg Off. George Edward James Reynolds 142887 RAFVR Age 24. KiA

Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Howard Douglas Chappell 1431223 RAFVR Age? KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Fg Off. Reginald Clifford Cooke Atkins 148720 RAFVR Age? KiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Flt Sgt. Walter John Manley 512750 RAF Age 33. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Flt Sgt. Leonard Stanley Baldwin 1396686 RAFVR Age 21. KiA

If you have any further information on the loss of this aircraft, crew, their relatives and friends than please contact us via the "add info" button at the top of this page


Lancaster PB398 took off at 21:02 hrsfrom RAF Coningsby for an operation to bomb Darmstadt. The aircraft may have been hit by flak or shot down by a night fighter. Nothing further was heard from the aircraft after take off.

PB398 was claimed as a possible by Uffz. Egon Engling, his 6th Abschuss, from 8./NJG, south to SE of Darmstadt at 4300 m at 01:02 hrs (Nachtjagd War Diaries Volume 2 (April 1944 - May 1945) - Dr Theo E.W. Boiten & Roderick J. Mackenzie).

This operation was classed as a failure due to the marker aircraft not finding the target and the Master Bomber had to return to base. The two deputy bombers were shot down with 33 of the aircraft bombing other targets. Of the 170 aircraft that took part in this operation 7 Lancasters were lost. Much damage was caused to Darmstadt but the bombs had been scattered over a wide area

Map of the area of the crash of Lancaster PB398

Lancaster Mk III (courtesy Imperial War Memorial)

(1) Sgt. George Flint baled out shortly before the planed crashed just outside Rothenberg, South of Darmstadt. Taken prisoner he ended up in Stalag Luft 7, Bankau near Kreuzberg, Silesia, Germany. (Now Bąków, Opole Voivodeship, Poland). He escaped during the forced march westward. Sgt. Flint had been posted to 97 Squadron on the 24th May 1944.

George Flint was born on the 2nd November 1924. He passed away, aged 82, in July 2006 in Gloucestershire

Above: Flt Sgt. William John Manley. Right: 44 Rhodesian Squadron. Sgt. William Manley served with this Squadron in 1943 and this picture shows the aircraft he may have flown in on an operation to Modane on the 10/11th November 1943 (both pictures courtesy Keith and Corinne Little)

Burial details:

Above: Durnbach War Cemetery - The quality of these photographs shown here can not be fully appreciated when the size is reduced for the web page - scroll to bottom of page to see detail. (courtesy David Franklin - David has kindly provided us with permission to release high definition copies to relatives)

Sqn Ldr. Stuart Martin Parkeshouse Parkes DSO. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave Ref. 5. E. 19. Son of Eric and Grace Parkes. Husband of Patricia Parkes of Moreton in Marsh, England

Sgt. 742649 Stuart Martin Parkeshouse Parkes was serving with No 9 Squadron in January 1941 when flying in Wellington R1244 when the aircraft made a forced landing in unoccupied France. See link (Wellington R1244) Sgt. S M P Parkes was granted a commission and promoted to Pilot Officer on probation 15th November 1941 and was promoted to the rank of Flying Officer as of 1st October 1942. Promoted to Flight Lieutenant (war subs) 30th July 1943. Posted to 97 Squadron 21st May 1944.

Awarded the DSO (Distinguished Service Order) in 1944. Acting Sqn Ldr. Stuart Martin Parkeshouse Parkes citation reads "Parkes, Stuart Martin Parkeshouse was detailed to lay mines in enemy waters. In the face of powerful defences and being illuminated by searchlights, this officer flew his aircraft accurately down the length of the Channel and placed his mines in the correct position. During the run his aircraft was hit and severely damaged by fire from the ground defences. Despite this, Squadron Leader Parkes remained in the vicinity of the target area for some 20 minutes and then flew the damaged aircraft safely home. His unswerving determination, courage and skill in the face of powerful defences largely contributed to the success of the operation. Squadron Leader Parkes has completed very many operations and his devotion to duty has been unfailing"

Fg Off. George Edward James Reynolds. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave Ref. 5. E. 18. Son of George Henry and Alice Louise Reynolds. Husband of Joan Reynolds of Dorking, Surrey.

Sgt. George Edward James Reynolds 903955 was granted a commission and promoted to Pilot Officer on probation 2nd March 1943 and was promoted to Flying Officer on the 2nd September 1943

Flt Sgt. Howard Douglas Chappell. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave Ref. 5. E. 21. Son of Beatrice Pearman Chappell of Bishopston, Bristol.

Sgt. Chappell had served with 102 Squadron in 1943. Posted to 97 Squadron on the 21st May 1944. At the time of his death his address was 47 Bishops Road, Bristol

Fg Off. Reginald Clifford Cooke Atkins. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave Ref. 5. E. 20. At the time of his death his address was 95 St. Katherines Road, Exeter. No information about next of kin.

Sgt. 908773 Reginald Clifford Cooke Atkins was granted a commission and promoted to Pilot Officer on probation 10th June 1943 and was promoted to Flying Officer on probation 10th December 1943. Posted to 97 Squadron on the 21st May 1944.

Flt Sgt. Walter John Manley. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave Ref. Joint Grave 5. E. 22-23. Son of Walter Theophilus and Ethel Elizabeth Manley. Husband of Maud Martha Manley of Berkhampsted, Hertfordshire.

Walter John Manley was born on the 15th October 1910. Enlisted 20th May 1930. A long serving member of the RAF. Sgt. W J Manley was serving with 44 Squadron 7th January 1944 at RAF Dunholme Lodge and was one of the crew of Lancaster ME574 which was returning from a training exercise when the aircraft crashed killing one of the crew. Flt Sgt. Walter John Manley was posted to No. 97 Squadron on the 24th May 1944.

Flt Sgt. Walter John Manley is remembered on the Berkhampsted War Memorial (Berkhampsted War Memorial (courtesy Keith Little)

Flt Sgt. Leonard Stanley Baldwin. Durnbach War Cemetery. Grave Ref. Joint Grave 5. E. 22-23. Son of Mr and Mrs L Baldwin of West Croydon, Surrey.

Born on the 25th May 1923 in Camberwell and educated at Tavistock school. Leonard had completed 48 operations while serving with the RAF. While serving with No. 51 Squadron 18/19th February 1943 Sgt. Baldwin was part of the crew of Halifax W7818 on an Gardening operation. The aircraft had just taken off from RAF Snaith when an engine failed and made a crash-landing in front of the Squadron Headquarters at Snaith. None of the crew were injured. Leonard is remembered on the Croydon Roll of Honour.

Researched by: Kate Tame Aircrew Remembered and for all the relatives and friends of the crew. With special thanks to Keith and Corinne Little nee Manley and family, Croydon Roll of Honour. Thanks to Lawrence Flint for the PoW information for his father Sgt. George Flint (Aug 2020).

RS 29.08.2020 - Update to narrative and new information for Sgt. Flint

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
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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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