Pte. Gerald Clarke - aicraft shot down on D-Day

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by brithm, Jan 9, 2016.

  1. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    8th Parachute Battalion veteran Gerald Clarke has been awarded the Legion of Honour. He retells the story of being in an aircraft that was shot down on D-Day. His aircraft would have been approaching Drop Zone K travelling in a Dakota

    "he had to trek for three days to get back to safety" there were two Dakotas which conveyed 8th Parachute Battalion that were shot down one piloted by F/O. Jones the other W/O. McCannell. Jones (KG.356) crashed near Bassenville and McCannell (KG.429) crashed Colombelles near the River Orne. McCannell only has 18 men listed in the manifest of Chalk number 243 so is it possible that Clarke and others had jumped out of the aircraft and made it to allied lines?

    Clarke was in HQ Company and later served in the Ardennes, Operation Varsity and Palestine.

    Attached Files:

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  2. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    According to the attached G Clarke was on Chalk 247

    Attached Files:

  3. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    Thanks horsapassenger for the manifest,

    I know we should take the maps showing where RAF pilots claimed or where they thought they dropped their sticks with a pinch of salt but this does show Chalk Number 247 dropping its stick North to South between Rupierre and Pedouze and East of the River Dives.

    The manifest also shows he was one of the first three to exit the aircraft, it is likely it took Gerald 3 days to make it back to Allied lines.

    Interesting post here on the Lee Flying Association a Peter Garrod of "Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) whose job it was to ferry aircraft to operational bases or to Maintenance Units" ferried "Dakota 111 FZ679 [from] Sherburn in Elmet to Doncaster, March 17th 1944 with ATA Flt Eng Kingston".

    Thanks again horsapassenger


    P.S. Maybe 8PARA can shed some light on this for us

    Attached Files:

    • 247.jpg
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  4. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    There were enquiries made about two members of this stick Levesuch and T J Hopkins who were both shown as killed on 6th June. Hopkins body was recovered from Banneville la Campagne MR 13556640

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  5. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    I think this is the latest amended "Aircraft lost on Allied Forces Special Duty Operations" out of Harrington Museum. Search for 233 Sqdn. It has listed two Dakotas that crashed carrying 8 Para men on the the night of 5/6 June - KG356 (page 246) and KG429 (Page 247)

    The listed KIA for KG429 doesn't align with Horsapassenger's manifest? Could Gerald Clarke perhaps have been on KG356 piloted by F/O Harvey Edgar Jones RCAF? No sense putting up captures as I may be on the wrong track?

    Regards ...
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  6. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    If Clarke was on Chalk 247 (FZ 679), as per the jump list posted above, then his aircraft returned safely to base


    Attached Files:

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  7. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    On John's manifest instead of Ferrell it's probably Major Stephen Terrell. He was 'A' Coy Commander for 8 Para during Normandy and Divisional HQ GSO-2 (Operations) on Operation Varsity. He gets mentioned in Lt Richard Fry's Normandy account (Paradata) a few times.

    Regards ...
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  8. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    The above Dakota III serial FZ679 was on charge with 233 and 437 Squadrons. It crashed at Lyon France, on 15 February 1945 (437 Squadron) when an engine cut on take-off, the aircraft swung off the runway and the starboard main tyre burst when it ran over a bomb tail fin which was lying on the ground. The Dakota then hit a French Air Force B-26 in the tail unit and then slewed sideways into another B-26(no casualties) Rebuilt and became OO-AWH with Sabena Airlines. Crashed 2 March 1948 on approach to Heathrow. London.
  9. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    horsapassenger's manifest is correct Pte. Clarke was on aircraft chalk number 247 it's possible the Dakota was hit and may have been on fire. It's a shame there are no reports from the pilots.
  10. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    As Dakota KG429 of 233 Squadron is mentioned thought I would add a little info......

    When the aircraft was shot down there were 22 fatalities. 3 RAF - 1 RCAF - 18 Army. There was one survivor, Company Sergeant Major Jones (8th Bn Parachute Regiment) Seems he served with the Maquis for several months.

    Would the list of causalities be of interest?


  11. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Hi Peter,

    I would be interested as it might prove useful later for enquiries made by family members of men who were aboard those planes. Also a POW list and POW reports of men on Gerald Clarke's aircraft may help for what they do or do not reveal about the jump. Hopefully that wouldn't knock the thread too far sideways?

    Regards ...
  12. arnhem2280

    arnhem2280 Member

    I don't supose any one has the manifest for the plane that 14553186 Pte C F James 8th Battalion was on. I know he ended up a fair way fromhis intended DZ as it took him 3 days to return to his battalion. Any help gratefully received.


  13. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    Looks like Chalk 248 although slight discrepancy with his Service Number

    Attached Files:

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  14. arnhem2280

    arnhem2280 Member

    Thanks very much for the info Horsa
  15. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    Loss details for Dakota KG429. 6 June 1944

    Warrant Officer Munro Murdoch MCCANNELL 22 Pilot
    Flight Sergeant Alexander Robert PORTER Navigator
    Warrant Officer Albert Theodore DOWNING 23 Navigator
    Warrant Officer Nathan Louis BERGER 22 RCAF Wireless Operator

    Lance Corporal John Patrick BOYLE 25 8th Bn The Parachute Regt
    Private Roger Frank CANTIN 21
    Private Sidney George COX 19
    Sergeant Alfred DOCKERILL 32
    Corporal Samuel Reuben FEWINGS 34
    Private Charles Frederick HOLLIS 21
    Private Arthur HUMPHRIES
    Private Dennis JOHNSON
    Private Edward JONES 23
    Private Ronald Peter KENT 24
    Corporal Robert Thomas Henry LONGMAN 23
    Private James Arthur MILLS 21
    Sergeant James Albert MOIR 22
    Private William PIGGOTT 21
    Private John ROBINSON 21
    Corporal Leonard Frank SMITH 31
    Private William Harold Robert THORPE 22
    Private John Halse WATKINS 19
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  16. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Thanks Peter!

    It's great to get their full name, rank and age.

    Regards ...
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  17. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    I went searching for the cash site of Dakota KG429 and found the following info on a French forum:

    "Dans la nuit du 5 au 6 juin 1944, les parachutistes de la 6ème division aéroportée britannique sont largués au nord-est de Colombelles. L'un des avions transportant un stick du 8th Battalion Parachute Regiment (3rd Para Brigade), le DC3 immatriculé KG 429 appartenant au N°46 Group de la Royal Air Force Transport Command, s'écrase dans le secteur de la commune près de l'église Saint-Martin, touché par un canon de la défense antiaérienne situé à hauteur des chantiers navals. Il n'y a qu'un seul survivant sur les 19 parachutistes et 4 membres d'équipage : les soldats tués sont enterrés dans une fosse commune près de l'église [ils reposent depuis 1952 dans le cimetière militaire de Ranville]."

    The Douglas DC-3 struck by flak from guns in the Canal shipyard crashed close by Saint-Martin Church in Colombelles. Except for the one survivor (CSM Jones) all on board were killed and buried in a communal grave near the church. In 1952 their remains were moved to the military cemetery at Ranville.

    If there were any witnesses to the crash and its aftermath their accounts and photos have eluded me. Attached are a few aerials showing the area with a couple of possible sites pointed out. Colombelles is situated on the east bank of the River Orne, southwest of Ranville.

    Box_0310-6-July-1944-3041.jpg Box_0307-27-June-1944-3020.jpg

    Regards ...
  18. Ben14

    Ben14 Active Member


    this is where the KG 429 crash on 6 jun 44

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  19. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Thanks Ben,

    I thought that the best choice as well from viewing other aerials. There's an interesting oblique infra-red aerial of the bombing of the steelworks at Colombelles on June 22nd 1944 which shows a dark smudge in the same field below the church.

    CL 217.jpg

    Should we go after the crash site for KG356? The following Canadian Wings page has some interesting clues which you will have to scroll down due to a page problem:

    F/O Harvey Edgar Jones was buried in front of a demolished house not far from the crash site and also, curiously, near the grave of his great-grandfather.

    The 8 Para WD tells of a rescue party that was sent out on June 7th to bring back casualties from a wrecked aircraft outside Bassenville. This could be a separate incident from the number of wounded brought back. - "5 stretcher cases, 1 walking wounded and 2 unwounded O.R.s were brought back. No incidents to report".

    I could be way off but here's a crop from a June 7th aerial near L'Eglise, Bassenville for consideration.


    Regards ...
  20. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    Sergeant Arthur Cain and Corporal Reg Brownhill are two men standing in the front who were in Gerald Clarke's aircraft when dropped over the wrong area, they are the furthest south an aircraft dropped paratroopers for Operation Tonga, probably on a similar latitude to Glider 221 which landed at Le Marais de Vimont at La Vielle Eglise.

    They were taken prisoner and were also in A Company, Cain was only one man behind Clarke so just goes to show how fate plays out.

    The photographs were taken by German photographer Siedel.

    Attached Files:

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