View Full Version : Leonard Joseph SUMPTER, DFC, 617 Sqn - Gazetted citation vs recommendation

30th January 2022, 03:35
SUMPTER, Leonard Joseph, F/O, DFM (149045, RAFVR) – No. 617 Squadron – Distinguished Flying Cross – awarded as per London Gazette dated 9 June 1944.

Since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal, this officer has participated in many sorties, and has continued to display high qualities of courage and devotion to duty. He is a skilful bomb aimer whose determination to ensure accuracy in the. face of the heaviest opposition has been most commendable. He has set a fine example to all.

Recommendation in AIR 2/9156 dated 10 May 1944 when he had flown 33 2/3 sorties (238 hours 55 minutes), 121 hours 40 minutes (21 2/3 sorties) since previous award

Since being awarded the D.F.M. in May, 1943, Flying Officer Sumpter has completed 21 2/3 operational sorties as bomb-aimer in a Special Duties Squadron. He has taken part in many low-level attacks of a most hazardous nature which have included such targets as the Dortmund/Ems canal, Clermont Ferrand and Brunswick. During the past few months, this officer has operated in a Deputy Leader’s aircraft and his principal task has been to aim and release the marker bombs for the Main Force. Flying Officer Sumpter, by his outstanding skill and determination in the face of extreme danger, has played a big part in the remarkable run of successes recently achieved by his Squadron.The development of a technique for marking a target at night automatically led to the immediate selection of Flying Officer Sumpter as bomb-aimer and navigator for Mosquito aircraft. He operated in this capacity during the recent successful attack by No. 5 Group against Munich and, owing to the large number of aircraft which were employed, the aiming-point had to be accurately marked at a precise moment just before the arrival of the Main Force. This demanded very accurate navigation and a low-level dive attack against one of the most strongly defended cities in Germany. In spite of his limited experience on Mosquito aircraft and the very heavy opposition which was encountered both along the route and over the target, this officer directed his captain to the aiming-point exactly at the selected time. The markers were thus accurately and punctually laid and the unqualified success of the operation was therefore in no small measure due to the skill, determination, and indomitable courage of this gallant officer. His outstanding operational record has, moreover, always been an example and a potent source of inspiration to his squadron. Flying Officer Sumpter is, therefore, strongly recommended for the Immediate award of the D.F.C. ((Signed by Commanding Officer (Philpott), Group Captain, R.A.F. Station, Woodhall, Spa, 10.5.44)

“There is little I can add to the Station Commander’s citation. I had the privilege of accompanying Flying Officer Sumpter’s crew on the occasion of a recent attack against the Antheor Viaduct and consequently had an opportunity of gauging his qualities. That he insisted on doing three runs over the target, despite heavy enemy defences, before finally releasing his bombs is in itself a criterion of his determination and indomitable courage. I very strongly support the recommendation for the Immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.” (Signed by Air Commodore, Coningsby, 13..5.44)

30th January 2022, 05:55

From Alan Cooper's, The Men Who Breached The Dams:

Flight Sergeant Leonard Joseph SUMPTER 655673 - Bomb Aimer.
Born: 1911 Kettering, Northants.
Grenadier Guards in 1928-31, 1939-41.
Released (RAF) 11 March 1946, rejoined 1946-1950, Physical Fitness Branch.
Lived in Luton. Now deceased.


Trans RAF 1941.
No.9 RW 12 Apl 1941.
No.10 ITW 26 Jun 1941.
No.33 ANS 15 Sep 1941.
Charlottown [sic]16 Sep 1941.
Nom 31 B & G Sch 14 Feb 1942.
No.3 PRC 13 May 1942
No.11 OTU 27 Jun 1942.
57 Sqdn 8 Sep 1942 (13 ops, wounded)
617 Sqdn Mar 1943.
85 OTU 21 Aug 1944.
617 Sqdn 22 Jan 1945.
RAF Burn 11 Sep 1945.
18 Gp 11 Mar 1946.


Plt Off 27 Jun 1943.
Fg Off 27 Dec 1943.
Fl Lt 17 Jun 1945.


DFM Gaz 28 May 1943.
DFC Gaz 9 Jun 1944 (35 Ops).

Sumpter was F/Lt David Shannon's bomb aimer on the Dams Raid.

The Men Who Breached The Dams.
Shrewsbury:Airlife Publishing,2002.
pp.115-6 & 166 (Appendix III).

The A/Cdre that endorsed the recommendation for the DFC to SUMPTER, was 19066 A/Cdre Alfred Charles Henry SHARP RAF (CO of No.54 Base, CONINGSBY). He was a passenger aboard 617 Sqn Lancaster I DV403 on 12/13-2-44 attack on the Antheor viaduct. J15336 F/O (Nav.) Daniel Revie WALKER DFC* RCAF, also aboard DV403.


30th January 2022, 08:28
This is a great example of how the actual recommendations can provide clarity as to whey the award was issued. The commendations were often just hints at what actually occurred and why such awards were issued. How can I obtain the recommendations for Soviet Medal for Valour awardees: E. B. Chandler (122814), Douglas Barber (49573), William Loraine McGuinty (R. 54211), Donald Hamilton Smith (Aus. 407256), Cyril Callinson (620212), Ronald Jephson (815066), William Arthur Warner (1425290). I understand there is file AIR 2/4798 but apparently the materials are not digitized, so unavailable to me. Are the RAF recommendations actually there? I note a previous comment from Hugh Halliday: the file "also contains recommendations for several officers which were not approved."
My similar request has already been referred to the Russian Embassy Moscow and there has been not response in half a year. I have the shelf and folder numbers in their archives. The approval of the Medals (theirs and 14 others for Navy and Army personnel) ) was Decreed 21 March 1944. This example also raises the question of recommendations that were not approved. Are Group Captain Noel Holroyd (24091) and Charles Cranston Calder (62699) fliers who were recommended, for the Valour medal but not approved? The 21 March 1944 Decree does not name them as recipients.

31st January 2022, 05:20
You will almost certainly have to visit Kew or have someone do so on your behalf for the file.

When I consulted AIR 2/4798 some 20 years ago I had tunnel vision and only copied the material re McGuinty (which entry I believe you have seen on line via the RCAF Association awards website). In a lateral sort of way, I can offer you the following tidbit:

BOSWELL, John Richard, Warrant Officer (513036) - British Military Mission to Russia, Party “A”, Archangel - Order of the Red Star (Soviet Union) - awarded as per London Gazette dated 7 April 1944. Public Record Office Air 2/8959, courtesy of Steve Brew, has recommendation for an MBE intended for New Years Honours List (1 January 1944); not approved but likely related to the Russian decoration.

Warrant Officer Boswell is the signals officer at Archangel. He displayed great ability in the original installation and subsequent maintenance of his equipment, sometimes under very difficult conditions. It has been largely due to his personal efforts that the wireless links at the station have been so successfully maintained from October 1941 to the present time.