01.07.1944 No 602 Squadron Spitfire IX MH512 LO-Q Fl/Lt. H.J. Cleary
Operation: Armed reconnaissance of the Argentan region.
Date: 1st July 1944 (Saturday)
Unit: No. 602 Squadron
Type: Spitfire MkIX
Base: B.11/Longues-sur-Mer, France
Location: Fontaine-Les-Bassets France
Pilot: Fl/Lt. Henry Joseph Cleary J/5038 RCAF Age 25. Survived - later killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Fl/Lt. Cleary was flying Spitfire MH512 LO-Q during an early morning armed reconnaissance of the Argentan region. He dived on a German motor transport column and was subsequently hit by flak.
Fl/Lt. Cleary managed to send out a mayday before bailing out. Pilots of his squadron reported to have last seen him entering cloud in a northerly heading. The Spitfire struck the ground some 30 miles southeast of Caen.
Now an evader, Fl/Lt. Cleary managed to rendezvous with a number of other allied fliers who were in the same predicament.
Their dash to freedom ended on Saturday the 8th of July when they were killed during a gun battle with the Germans. Fl/Lt. Cleary was initially buried at St. Clair but was later exhumed and re-buried as shown below.
(Note: the date on the grave marker had been inscribed incorrectly as the 01.07.1944)
Fl/Lt. Joseph Henry Cleary. Bretteville-Sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, France Grave: XIX.F.3. Son of Edward J. and Mary Boulger Cleary, of Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. Grave inscription reads: “Time Shall Never Efface The Memory Of Our Darling Harry. Dad, Mother And Sister.”
Researcher - Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered September 2016. With thanks to Maureen Pospiech niece of Mr. Cleary, and Daniel Pospiech, grand-nephew of Mr. Cleary for his photographs and to Woose for grave photograph.