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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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602 Squadron Crest
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

Serial: MH512

Code: LO-Q

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


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.

Burial details:

(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.

MB - 14.09.2016

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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', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. 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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