06th June 1944 165 Squadron Spitfire LF.IX MK589 Sq/Ldr. Clouston
Date: 06th June 1944 (Tuesday)
Unit: No. 165 Squadron (motto: Infensa virtuti invidia - 'Envy is the foe of virtue') 10 Group; Air Defence of Great Britain
Type: Spitfire LF.IX
Base: RAF Predannack, Cornwall
Location: English Channel
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. John Greville Clouston NZ/40218 RNZAF Age 25. PoW - Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
06th June 1944 D-Day: Operation Overlord commenced with the crossing of nearly 160,000 Allied troops over the English Channel to land on the beaches of Normandy, France.
Taking off at 20:00 hrs with 11 others on a night 'Rodeo' operation to Brittany in France. One of four claiming a Ju88 shot down.
MK589 was hit by flak whilst over Morlaix. His Merlinn 66 engine rapidly overheated and he was forced to bale out at 8000 ft. Sq/Ldr. Clouston landed in the Channel 3 km west of Tregastal, soon captured and taken PoW.
The squadron lost another pilot on this operation. Fl/Lt. Alexander Davidson May flying Spitfire LF.IX MK751 DK-T ran out of fuel. Sadly although he baled out his parachute failed to deploy and his body never knowingly recovered.
Wednesday 21st June: Now a PoW Sq/Ldr. Clouston was being taken by the Germans from Tours to a camp with six other prisoners.
The following is an extract from a letter from Sqn.Ldr. Lionel William Vaughan Jennens, for the Senior British Officer, North Compound, Stalag Luft 3 dated the 21st August 1944 to Lady Ampthill which provides the explanation of Sgt. Hale’s death:
"On the 28th. June, 1944, whilst being transport (censored by Germans) as a Prisoner of War in a German lorry with German guards and six other Allied Officers and Men we were forced to stop due to engine trouble. While repairs were being carried out we were attacked by Allied Fighters. I regret to have to state that F/LT. John Cloughton, RNZAF and Sgt. Charles Hale RAFVR of 18 Chissenhall Avenue, St. Helens, Lancs, were killed in the attack. The transport returned to Tours and the two bodies were handed over to a Red Cross Field Hospital on the way. I later identified the two bodies at the General Hospital in Tours. I presume them to have been buried in the Cemetery attached to the Hospital.”
Lady Margaret Ampthill was the Chairman of the Wounded and Missing and Relatives Department of the British Red Cross Society.
Burial and personal details:
Sq/Ldr. John Greville Clouston. Nantes (Pont-Du-Cens) Communal Cemetery. Plot L. Row D. Grave 20. Born on the 08th January 1919 at Wellington. Worked as a clerk for Murray Roberts and Company of Wellington before service. Served in the NZ territorial army for 18 months before enlisting on the 15th January 1940 at Levin. Awarded his pilots badge on the 10th June 1940 and promoted to sergeant on the 27th July 1940. Embarked for England on the 11th August 1940. Joined 57 Operational Training Unit for training on the Spitfire the 01st November 1940, Joined 258 squadron flying the Hurricane on the 02nd December 1940 where he carried out 146 operational sorties.
Commissioned on the 08th May 1941. Attached to 403 squadron RCAF flying the Spitfire - numerous operations carried out. Joined 111 squadron on the 12th November 1941 carrying out 8 operational sorties. On the 08th March joined 486 squadron flying the Hurricane and Typhoon carrying out 63 operations . On the 19th January he was appointed Sector Gunnery Officer and instructor at Biggin Hill. Then after joining 41 squadron on the 08th November 1943 he carried out at least 11 operations. On the 05th December he was attached to Fighter Leader School flying the Spitfire, a further 55 operations carried out with 165 squadron which he joined on the 13th January 1944. Son of Allan Wilson Clouston and Violet Lizzie Clouston (nee Greville), of Wellington. Husband of Joyce Eileen Clouston (nee Wilson - later Whitta) and father of Anne Elizabeth and Susan Greville of Karon, Wellington, New Zealand.
Fl/Lt. Alexander Davidson May. 125545 RAFVR Missing - believed killed. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 203.
Sgt. Charles Thiepval Hale 1457196 RAFVR. Nantes (Pont-Du-Cents) Communal Cemetery. Plot L. Row D. Grave 19. Navigator with 77 Squadron. Age 26. Son of Charles and Hannah Hale (nee Jones) of 15 Greenfield Road. St. Helens, Merseyside, England. Further details of how he became a PoW here.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to John Jones, Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, AWMM, other sources as quoted below: