Sgt John Frederick Clinton RAF

Serial number :  2211527

90 Squadron, RAF Tuddenham, 3 Group, Bomber Command, Royal Air Force 1944

 

Sgt J F Clinton (right) with members of the French Resistance. He has a souvenir !

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The original of this report can be found at the Public Record Offices, Kew, London

Ref: WO 208 3322 (-) 2233

SECRET

Escape Report M.I.9/S/P.G. (-) 2233

Evaded capture in France

Statement by 2211527 Sgt. CLINTON, John Frederick, 40 Squadron, Bomber Command, RAF

 Post in crew: Engineer

Interviewed by I.S.9 (W)

O.R.S., Bomber Command, RAF ) 29 Aug 44.

We took off from TUDDENHAM in a Lancaster MkIII aircraft at 2245 hrs on 10 Jun 44 to bomb DRUEX. We bombed the target, but after releasing the bombs we were hit by flak and the aircraft caught fire..

The order was given to bail out. I landed in a large open field without my boots and saw the aircraft burning about 400 yards from where I landed. I took off my harness and mae west and left it in the field and made off away from the aircraft as quickly as possible.

I walked along a lane which ran alongside the field and hid in a ditch for about an hour. When I thought it was safe to leave

-2-

I crawled out of the ditch and walked for about half an hour until I came to some farm buildings. In looking for somewhere to hide I came across a large outdoor oven, so I hid in it until Monday morning (12 Jun).

On the Sunday morning (11 Jun) a German patrol searched the farm and building very thoroughly, but fortunately did not search the oven. They left and returned the same evening.

On the Monday morning (12 Jun) I went to the farm but they were very frightened when I explained who I was. The farmer gave me a drink, some overalls and a pair of boots. They obviously did not want me to remain and explained the general direction to CAEN. I left by a back window and out across some fields and walked along a second class road, following this until I came to a main road just outside DAMVILLE. I walked along this road until I saw a German patrol and to avoid them I did a detour coming on to the main road again and eventually reached the town of BRETEUIL. I went through BRETEUIL and stayed the night at a house in the village of BEMECOURT.

The following morning (13 Jun) I took to the main road again just outside RUGLES. I stopped at a House and asked for a drink. I asked if they could help me to get through the town, so the woman’s husband took me through the town and put me on the road to LISIEUX.

That night I stayed at a Farm and they advised me to keep off the main roads and use the second class roads. While resting in a wood just off the main BERNAY-GACE road a woman came up and spoke to me. I told her who I was and she said she would bring a friend who could speak English. I waited for two hours and she arrived with a man who immediately demanded to see my identity discs. I told him I was making for the front, but he advised me to hide up until the British broke through. He took me to the woman’s house in ST. GERMAIN D’ECHAUFFOUR. I stayed the night there. The man took my passport photo and identity card and the following day (16 Jul) returned with my pass and took me to the village of VERNEUSSES where I stayed at a friend’s house for a couple of hours. We then left for a farm about two kilometres from the village of VERNEUSSES. I met a man there who spoke good English and I asked him where he had learnt it. He then admitted he was an Englishman born in CARLISLE. He came over with the B.E.F. in 1940 and was a sergeant in the Royal Corps of Signals. He had been helping the Resistance Movement and had helped a number of pilots to escape.

As the Germans had got to know that there were arms hidden in the area it was not considered safe for me to stay at the farm, I was taken to the school in VERNEUSSES on 18 Jul and stayed there about a week after which time I returned to the farm.

About 25 Jul I had to move again and I went back to stay in the village for two days. There were a number of Germans in the village and one German officer was billeted in the house where I was staying.

On 27 Jul I was taken to a farm on the outskirts of LE SAP and stayed here about ten days. One hour after we left about 50 Germans arrived and were billeted at this farm.

About 6 Aug I returned to the farm on the outskirts of VERNEUSSES and remained there until the Canadians arrived on the 23 Aug 44..

 End of report.

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 Sgt Clinton's log book showing the night they took off to bomb Dreux.

 

The Telegram that was sent to John's father.

 

   

Member of the resistance Monsieur Marguet, a keen hunter, with rifle and binoculars (left). Outside his domicile with a shotgun and terrier (dead fox at his feet).

 

 

In 1999 John returned to France to meet and thank those that had assisted him in evading capture.

  Monsieur Marguet (left), John Clinton (centre) and Monsieur Huby (2nd from right top pic'?).

 

 Sgt J F Clinton received this Caterpillar 'pin' from Irvin Air Chutes.

 

 

Going home.

 

A form to be signed by all air personnel.

Notes on the rear indicate what should be said.....

R.A.F (Evaders).

I was shot down by flak and bailed out. I evaded capture and managed to get to this country.

As many others are trying to do the same, you will understand it is not possible for me to tell you anything till after the war.

In any case, I have orders not to say more than I have already told you.

*****

After being re-united with British forces John was flown from Bayeux in France back to RAF Northolt in a Dakota aircraft.

On 2nd December 1944 John recommenced flying as the Flight Engineer in a Halifax aircraft.

He flew many missions which took him over Europe and to places such as the Middle East / Cairo, Italy, Malta, Karachi and Calcutta. Always in a Halifax.

The last entry in John's Log book is for an Air Test on the 21st August  1946.

Sgt John Frederick Clinton (2211527) died in 2001.

My sincere thanks to John's son John Morris for all the additional information and memorabilia he sent me in order to complete this story.

 


Escape report of W/O G K Hartwig, Sgt H R Holt