Letter of condolence from John Chatterton to parents of Sergeant Peter Lees parents after his loss



Letter of condolence from John Chatterton to parents of Sergeant Peter Lees parents after his loss


Letter written to parents of his bomb aimer member of his crew who was killed flying as a reserve with another crew captained by Pilot Officer Buckel lost 23 November 1943. Captioned 'Loss of Sgt Peter Lees 23/11/43. Letter written by his crew captain - John Chatterton to Peter Lees




Temporal Coverage




4 page letter mounted in 4 frames


IBCC Digital Archive


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[Letter is mounted and written on the mounting is ‘Loss of Sgt Pete Lees 23/11/43 Letter written by his crew captain – John Chatterton to Pete Lees parents after his loss]
[headed paper RAF Crest]
P/O Chatterton
Officer’s [deleted Sergeants [/deleted] Mess,
Royal Air Force Station,
Dunholme Lodge,
1st Dec 1943
Dear Mr & Mrs Lees.
This is a rather difficult task for me, because I know how useless and inadequate words are on such an occasion; but as captain of the crew the other boys wish me to tell you how keenly we ourselves have felt this blow and we send you our deepest sympathy.
We have known Peter since the beginning of June and really appreciated his presence in our crew. With his long experience in the ground staff he was always master of technical difficulties in the aircraft and several times helped different members of the crew at their own jobs. Apart from this immense practical knowledge he always knew
[page break]
the ins and outs of service life and this helped us along considerably in our everyday life.
We all lived together for a long time (I was a sergeant until a few weeks ago) and you can’t eat, sleep, and especially fly on desperate ventures, with chaps for any length of time without growing to know their ways and relying on them in times of danger and difficulty.
Peter was A1 in this respect and I shall always remember the calm, cool, way in which he gave me bombing directions on the second attack on Berlin (22nd Nov) although we were in the heart of the fiercest flak I’ve ever experienced.
The next day we were on “standby crew” which meant that we had to be ready to supply any crewmember to replace anyone on the operation who went sick at the last minute. Unfortunately P/O Buckland had to replace his bomb aimer at the last and Peter had to go on the operation with him.
[page break]
[headed paper]
That was [deleted] Wed [/deleted] Tuesday 23rd Nov and their aircraft did not return. We waited hopefully next day for news but none came; and when the Adjutant of the squadron was detailing officers to pack up the kit of the missing men, I volunteered to do it so that Peter’s stuff could have decent attention.
Normally all the personal kit is packed up and taken charge of by the RAF authorities but I took most of Peters private belongings and packed them in his case, which along with his bike I have kept for 9 days as were his instructions in a letter that he wrote before he went.
He also left this letter to be posted to you after 9 days.
I put the case and bicycle on railway yesterday, so you should get it very soon
[page break]
Please do not give up hope – because out of every 10 aircraft that are missing 9 of the crews are either making their way back through occupied territory, or are in prison camps safe until the end of the war. Personally, I have every hope and belief that in a month or two we shall be hearing that Peter has successfully escaped from France or Belgium; he always took with him plenty of useful articles to help him in such a case.
So don’t give up hope dear people – our crew never will.
The navigator – Jack Leyland
wireless operator – Jock Michie
engineer – Ken Letts
rear gunner - Wee Jock Davidson
mid upper gunner – Bill Champion
all send our sympathy and best wishes.
John Chatterton



John Chatterton, “Letter of condolence from John Chatterton to parents of Sergeant Peter Lees parents after his loss,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed March 21, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/7075.

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