18/19.07.1944 No. 78 Squadron Halifax III NA513 EY-O W/O. George H. Stratford
Date: 18/19th July 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)
Unit: No. 78 Squadron
Type: Halifax III
Base: RAF Breighton, Yorkshire
Location: Neufmoulin, France
Pilot: W/O. George Henry Stratford 642061 RAF Age 30. Killed
Fl/Eng: F/O. Robert Hay Duncanson 52798 RAF Age 24. Killed
Nav: F/O. Ian David Henry Clarson 169318 RAF Age 19. Killed (1)
Air/Bmr: F/O. Walter Thomas Harding 152513 RAFVR Age 23. Killed (1)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Michael Patrick Moreton 169313 RAFVR Age 18. Killed (1)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. George Allenby 1590978 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. David Robert Brown 993434 RAFVR Age 23. Killed (1)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 22:30 hrs from RAF Breighton, Yorkshire to bomb the flying bomb facility. 62 aircraft from 4 and 8 group taking part. 51 Halifaxes, 9 Mosquitoes and 2 Lancasters. Reports state that no new damage was done to the works.
Two aircraft were lost on this operation the other also a Halifax III from 76 Squadron flown by Fl/Lt. Paul Sinclair DFC. RAAF, killed with 6 other crew members. Both aircraft fell victim to Oblt. Werner Hopf (2) of 8./NJG5.
Halifax III NA513 shot down at 00:34 hrs - combat taking place at 2.300 m
Halifax III LK873 shot down at 00:32 hrs - combat taking place at 2.500 m
(1) These crew members escaped from a previous crash when on the 7th June serving in 1652 HCU the Halifax II DT554 GV-P on fighter affiliation training crashed at 12:20 hrs. The aircraft fell between the villages of Mickley and West Tansfield near Ripon, Yorkshire. All crew survived, but the rear gunner 22 year old Sgt. Joseph McGoldrick from Tantobie, Durham, died of his injuries later that evening at York Military Hospital.
(2) This was the 11th confirmed abschüss for Oblt Werner Hopf. Surviving the war with a total 22 night abschusse, we have no further details.
Note: This was the fourth operation that this crew took part in with 78 Sqn. All of the crew less George Henry Stratford had joined 78 Squadron from 41 Base on the 07th July 1944. W/O. George Stratford had been moved from 76 Squadron having completed 16 operations there, joining 78 Squadron on the 06th July 1944. The three operations that this crew had completed prior to their loss were: 12th July 1944 Thiverny, 15th July 1944 Nucourt, 18th July 1944 Caen (Information from Darren Sheerin who is preparing a book on the Squadron)
W/O. George Henry Stratford. Neufmoulin Communal Cemetery. Coll. Grave 2-5. Son of Edward Stratford, and of Lucy Stratford (nee Atherton), husband of Betty K.A. Stratford (nee Cowley), of Exeter, England.
F/O. Robert Hay Duncanson. Neufmoulin Communal Cemetery. Coll. Grave 2-5. Son of Robert Hunter Duncanson and Margaret Gardner Duncanson, husband of Joan Duncanson, of West Coseley, Staffordshire, England.
F/O. Ian David Henry Clarson. Neufmoulin Communal Cemetery. Grave 1. Born in Ross, Herefordshire. Son of Major Joseoh Henry Plant Clarson, 3rd Bn. The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), and Winifred Alice Clarson (née Gradidge), of Bristol, England. (grave shown right)
F/O. Walter Thomas Harding. Neufmoulin Communal Cemetery. Coll. Grave 2-5. Born during 1921 in South Shields. Son of Walter Thomas Harding and Christina (née Wraith) Harding of South Shields, England.
F/O. Michael Patrick Moreton. Neufmoulin Communal Cemetery. Coll. Grave 2-5. Son of Sidney Thomas Moreton and Eileen Moreton, of Ealing, Middlesex, England.
Sgt. George Allenby. Neufmoulin Communal Cemetery. Coll. Grave 2-5. No further information as yet, but understood to have joined the squadron shortly before on the 7h July 1944.
Sgt. David Robert Brown. Neufmoulin Communal Cemetery. Coll. Grave 2-5. Son of James and Elizabeth Brown, of Ashington, Northumberland, England.
Researched for David Clarson, nephew of the navigator, F/O. Ian Clarson and for all the relatives of this crew. With thanks for additional information to sources as quoted below. Thanks also to David Wraith for the additional information for F/O. Walter Thomas Harding.