Flight Sergeant William John CLEMOW

Service No: 403920
Born: Marrickville NSW, 14 May 1915
Enlisted in the RAAF: 31 March 1941
Unit: No. 221 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station, Luqa, Malta
Died: Air Operations (No. 221 Squadron Wellington aircraft NP537), off Sicily, 27 April 1943, Aged 27 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Frederick James Clemow and Ethel May Clemow, of Coogee, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 11, Column 2, Malta Memorial, Malta
Remembered: Panel 120, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

The No. 458 Squadron Operations Record Book records the following “at 2057 hours on the 27th April 1943 two Wellingtons were dispatched from Luqa to search for enemy shipping in the Sicilian narrows in cooperation with Royal Navy units. The captains were Pilot Officer Whitcomb and Flight Lieutenant Taylor. The aircraft flown by Pilot Officer Whitcomb returned early with engine trouble. At 2350 hours NP537 sighted and reported to base one small vessel and one destroyer in position 38.12N 13.05E, course 090 deg, speed 7 knots. Nothing further was heard from the aircraft and it failed to return to base.

The crew members of NP537 were:

Flight Sergeant William John Clemow (403920) (Special Equipment (Radar) Operator)
Flight Sergeant Thomas Chamley Moynihan (414516) (RNZAF) (Rear Gunner) PoW
Pilot Officer Ian Douglas Prebble (41186) (RNZAF) (Second Pilot)
Sergeant Donald Kenneth Robin Rowley (411192) (RNZAF) (Wireless Operator) PoW
Flight Lieutenant John Lawrence Taylor (118487) (RAFVR) (Pilot) (No. 172 Squadron (RAF) attached to No. 458 Squadron)
Flying Officer George Oliver Whatnall (412774) (RNZAF) (Navigator) PoW

Flight Lieutenant Taylor, Flying Officer Prebble and Flight Sergeant Clemow lost their lives at sea and their names are commemorated on the Malta Memorial.

The other three crew members became Prisoners of War. RAAF Headquarters London reported later that the POWs had stated “All the crew were in the aircraft when it crashed into the sea flying too low to avoid enemy night fighters. The position was half way between Pantellaria Island and Cape Bon between 0150-0200 hours on 28 April 1943. Clemow, Prebble and Taylor went down with the aircraft. The other three members got out due to the aircraft breaking up on impact with the water.”

The AWM Honour Roll records Flight Sergeant Clemow’s unit as No. 221 Squadron RAF. CWGC records show Flight Lieutenant Taylor’s and Pilot Officer Prebble’s unit as No. 458 Squadron. The Honour Roll for No. 458 Squadron given in We Find and Destroy: history of No. 458 Squadron includes Flight Lieutenant Taylor and Pilot Officer Preeble, but not Flight Sergeant Clemow.


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/7/88


Alexander, P. (Peter) We Find and Destroy: history of No. 458 Squadron, The 458 Squadron Council, 1959

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