LEST WE FORGET
Flight Sergeant John William CLIFTON
Service No: 418349
Born: Carlton VIC, 15 October 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 22 may 1942
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft ND463), Germany, 25 March 1944, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Hanover War Cemetery, Hannover, Niedersachsen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William Henry Porter Clifton and Alice Veronica Clifton, of North Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Melbourne VIC
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Date: 24-25 March 1944
Total Force: Dispatched – 810, Attacking – 726
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 24, Attacking – 24; No. 463 Dispatched – 14, Attacking – 12; No. 466 Dispatched – 14, Attacking – 12; No. 467 Dispatched – 19, Attacking – 17
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,493
Total Aircraft Lost: 72
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 2; No. 466 – 1
On 24-25 March the long Baltic route was employed and nearly 150 aircraft from operational training units and conversion units made diversionary sweeps to confuse enemy fighter controllers. As frequently happened the flight plan was disrupted by changed meteorological conditions. An exceptionally strong north wind caused the Pathfinders to overshoot the southern suburbs and also scattered the bomber stream over a very wide area. Aircraft lacking H2S including those from Nos.
463 and 467 were mostly blown off track and actually approached over the heavily gun-defended areas of Sylt, Flensburg and Kiel. Pilot Officer Gibbs (1) of No. 467 saw several aircraft shot down near Sylt and it is fairly certain that nearly three-quarters of the bombers lost fell victims to gun fire, either on approach or during withdrawal when similar failure to allow for the unexpected wind velocity carried many of them into the middle of the Ruhr defences. Even the H2S-equipped aircraft found navigation extremely difficult, and one crew of No. 460 overshot Berlin by fifty miles before the Pathfinder flares were seen falling well in the rear. This aircraft turned back and joined in the raid, but a Halifax of No. 466 was so far to the south of the target when the first markers went down that it could not reach Berlin before the attack ended and finally jettisoned its bombs sixty miles south of the capital. The raid might well have been a fiasco, but for the first time a master of ceremonies operated over Berlin and his instructions helped the bombers considerably as they straggled over the target. Precise assessment of this raid was impossible, for photographs, although they showed considerable fresh devastation, were obtained only after five daylight raids had been made by American aircraft.
(1) Flying Officer David Lloyd Gibbs DFC (413567) was discharged from the RAAF on 30 august 1945.
Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 643, 647-8
Lancaster ND463 took off from RAF Binbrook at 1846 hours on 24 March 1944 to bomb Berlin. The bomb load 1x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 156 x 30 lb (14 kg), 420 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed on a hillside near the village of Hollenstein, about 70 kms south west of Hanover. Six crew members were killed and one became a Prisoner of War.
The crew members of ND463 were:
Flight Sergeant Alan Bumpstead (418917) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Sergeant John William Clifton (418349) (Bomb Aimer)
Pilot Officer Milford James Cusick (420157) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Percival Allan Forrest (425306) (Wireless Operator Air) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 1 November 1945
Sergeant John Foster (985156) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)
Warrant Officer John Randall Martin (414313) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Gerald Noel Speering (434660) (Mid Upper Gunner)
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ME640 (Flight Lieutenant Allan Francis McKinnon DFC (407531) (Pilot)) on 24 March 1944.
No. 466 Squadron lost Halifax LV900 (Flight Sergeant Ross Lange Robertson (416706) (Pilot)) on 24 March 1944.
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, 166/7/452
Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985