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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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26 Squadron Crest
19.05.1940 No 26 Squadron Lysander II N1202 P/O. Clifford

Operation: Tactical Reconnaissance

Date: 19th May 1940 (Sunday)

Unit: No. 26 Squadron (Army Co-operation Unit)

Type: Westland Lysander Mk II

Serial: N1202

Code: RM-?

Base: Authie, France

Location: Neuvilly France

Pilot: P/O. Ralph Henry Clifford 33537 RAF Age 20. Killed

Air/Gnr: LAC. Frederick Lawrence Bettany 935893 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Shot down by Lt Friedrich Wilhelm Straks Strakeljahn of I.(J)/LG2. (1) Crashed and burned out near Neuvilly at 13:30 hrs. LAC. Bettany badly burned, admitted to a German Field Hospital hospital at Landrecies, where he later died.


Initially a body identified by papers found and originally buried next to the wreckage was thought to be that of LAC. Fred Bettany and then reinterred on 02nd April 1940 in Neuvilly Communal Cemetery. However it seems the reason for the misidentification was that he had torn off his burning jacket and threw it next to the Lysander wreckage. The mistake was revealed by and eye witness in September 1944. No. 1 MREU finally cleared up the confusion following extended investigations after the war.

(1) Friedrich Wilhelm Straks Strakeljahn - an ace at the time of his death. Shot down by ant-aircraft fire near Dünaburg on the 06th July 1944 (Information from the Kracker Archives on this website)


Right: Friedrich Wilhelm Straks Strakeljahn

Burial details:

P/O. Ralph Henry Clifford. Neuvilly Communal Cemetery Ext. Grave C.13. Born 16th October 1919 in Wokingham, Berkshire. His mothers maiden name was Nevile. No further details - are you able to assist?

AC1. Frederick Lawrence Bettany. Landrecies Communal cemetery. Row C. Grave 2. Son of Arthur Lawrence Bettany and Edith Maud Bettany, of Sleaford, Lincolnshire, England. Grave inscription reads: "In Remembrance Of Our Dear Son Whose Memory Will Remain With Us For Ever".

Researched Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered - July 2018. Grave photographs courtesy Auzeau and Soilsister, others from the collection of Michel Beckers. Thanks to Gerald Brown for the DoB for Plt.Off. Clifford. Gerard’s late father, Douglas Brown, a close friend of Ralph Clifford who had both entered No 1 School of Technical Training at RAF Halton in January 1936 (Entry 33 - Fitter training).

RS 14.06.2019 - Addition of DoB details for Plt.Off. Clifford

Acknowledgements: 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', 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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