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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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2 Squadron SAAF
06.10.1941 2 Squadron, SAAF, Tomahawk IIb AK513 Lt. Clement Aldwyn Neville McGarr MiD

Operation: Patrol over the Sidi Omar area.

Date: 6th October 1941 (Monday)

Unit No: 2 Squadron, SAAF, Middle East Airforce

Type: Tomahawk IIB (Curtis P-40)

Serial: AK513

Code: TA:?

Base: Sidi Haneish Airfield, Egypt

Location: SE of Sidi Omar, Egypt

Pilot: Lt. Clement Aldwyn Neville McGarr MiD 95691 SAAF Age 26. PoW No. 1431 */ Murdered

* Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria)

REASON FOR LOSS:

Twelve Tomahawks from 2 Sqn, SAAF took off from Sidi Haneish Airfield to fly a diversionary patrol over the Sidi Omar area. They were surprised by fourteen Bf109s of II./JG 27 which shot down AK513 flown by Lt. McGarr, and AN251 flown by Lt. R.C.W. Miller.

Lt. Robert Charles Wilton Miller 47491, SAAF, was KiA and is remembered on the Alamein Memorial Column 245.

The following two Germans claimed the Tomahawks but it has not been established which Tomahawk was attributed to which pilot.

Oblt. Gustav Siegfried Rödel, the Staffelkapitän of 4./JG 27, claimed his 22nd confirmed Abschuss, SE of Sidi Omar at 09:30 hrs;
Ofw. Otto Schulz, his 10th confirmed Abschuss, from 4./JG 27, SE of Sidi Omar at 09:30 hrs.

Lt. McGarr bailed out and after he landed safely set off walking. After three days in the Desert without food and water he was captured by soldiers of the Afrika Korps. After a short stay in a PoW camp in Libya he was sent to Germany and Stalag Luft 1. From there he was transferred to Stalag Luft 3.

Lt. McGarr was one of two officers in charge of tunnel security and responsible for their respective groups of security workers ensuring that the coast was clear when the trap of the tunnel was opened and closed (Ref 1. pp 181-182).

On the night of the 24th-25th March 1944, 76 officers escaped from the north compound of Stalag Luft 3 which, at that time, held between 1000 and 1500 RAF PoWs. The escape was made by the means of a tunnel. At about 05:00 hrs on the 25th March the 77th PoW was spotted by guards as he emerged from the tunnel.

An overview of the German response to the escape and the subsequent British prosecution of those responsible for the murder of fifty of the escapees is summarised in the report entitled “The Fifty - The Great Escape”.

It is not known when Lt. McGarr exited the tunnel nor with whom he travelled, if at all. What is known from the trial transcript is that he was captured at or near Sagan. He was one of a number of recaptured officers who were killed by persons unknown some time after the 4th April 1944 and cremated in Breslau. The other officers were:

Flt Lt. A.D.M. Gunn, Plt Off. W.J. Grisman, Flt Lt. H.J. Milford, Fg Off. D.O. Street and Flt Lt. J.F. Williams.

No one was formally charged with the actual murder of Lt. McGarr or the other five officers. The bodies of this group were cremated at Breslau and their urns returned to Stalag Luft 3.

Burial Details

Memorial to “The Fifty” near to Żagań (Credit: CSvBibra - Own work, Public Domain)

Above: Grave marker for Lt. McGarr. (Courtesy of TWGPP)

Lt. Clement Aldwyn Neville McGarr Twice MiD. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery 7.D.6. Born on the 24th November 1917 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Son of Melville George and Mildred Martha (née Smith) McGarr of Durban, South Africa.

His mother predeceased him in March 1940 in Durban, South Africa.

Lt. McGarr was Mentioned in Despatches (MiD) recognizing his conspicuous bravery as a PoW because none of the other relevant decorations then available could be awarded posthumously. Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 8th June 1944.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.

Thanks to ‘The War Graves Photographic Project for their great work.

Other sources listed below:

References:

1. Stalag Luft III - An official history of the “Great Escape’ PoW Camp - Published by Frontline Books - ISBN: 978-1-47388-305-5.






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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', 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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