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
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
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).