Clifford Stanley Douglas
From Our Contribution
|Date of Birth||8 Jun 1921|
|Place of Birth||Albany, Western Australia|
|Death||14 Dec 2008|
|Place of Death||Rockingham, Western Australia|
|Age at Enlistment||19 years, 5 months|
5'5¾" (1.67m) tall ; 133lbs|
60.328 kg; medium complexion ; grey eyes ; brown hair
|Address||Albany highway, Bedfordale, Western Australia|
|Next of Kin||Father , Mr Thomas Edgar Douglas|
|Date of Enlistment||11 Nov 1940|
|Unit/Formation||No. 460 Squadron RAAF|
|1st Departure from Australia|
|Journey Dates||17 Jul 1941 ‒ 2 Sep 1941|
|Transport Details||not known Fremantle to UK|
|Post War Details|
Prisoner of War 1 Jun 1942 |
Returned to Australia
|Monument(s)||The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial Ballarat Botanical Gardens|
|External Monument(s)||The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial Ballarat, Victoria|
1939-45 Star |
War Medal 1939-45
Australian Service Medal 1939-45
Had attended the Armadale State School prior to leaving in Dec 1935 with a Junior Certificate with first class passes in Latin and Mathematics A. Other subjects passed were English, Geography, Manual Training, History and Drawing. In 1936 he enrolled at Perth Technical College part time before transferring his studies to a correspondence course and in November 1939 he passed the Institute of Chartered Accountant's Intermediate Exam in Book-keeping and Accounts.
On 17 Jun 1940 Cliff joined the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve. Records do not indicate how his time was spent prior to 11 Nov 1940 when he enlisted as Aircrew, in the RAAF proper. On 4 Jan 1941 he was promoted Leading Aircraftsman, before being promoted Sergeant on 27 Jun 1941. His promotion to Flight Sergeant on 1 Jun 1942 occurred while he was a POW on the basis of his service as a Sergeant for six or more months, and his promotion to Warrant Officer followed 12 months service as a Flight Sergeant i.e. 1 Jun 1943, despite it also occurring while he was a POW.
On 9 Jan 1941 Cliff had been sent to Cunderdin to join the No 9 Elementary Flying Training School (9 EFDS) where he learnt to fly de Havilland DH.82A Tiger Moths, followed by progression on 10 Mar 1941 to the No 4 Service Flying Training School (4 SFTS) at Geraldton who were flying Avro Anson aircraft. There on 17 Mar 1941 he was charged under the Air Force Act Section 39A (1) (a) with negligently damaging His majesty's Aircraft Anson W.1560 and Anson R.3556. In that when pilot of R.3556 he collided with W.1560. It would appear that the damage was minor as his penalty was an Admonishment and fine of four days pay (36/- or $3.60). despite this, he graduated on 26 Jun 1941. On completion of his training in Australia he was sent to the UK (departed 17 Jul 1941) where he undertook further training before joining No. 460 Squadron on 11 Feb 1942.
No. 460 Squadron, RAAF, had been formed at Molesworth in the United Kingdom on 15 November 1941. It was one that resulted from the Empire Air Training Scheme. The squadron became part of the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command, and joined the bombing campaign against Germany. Equipped with Vickers Wellington bombers. It mounted its first raid, against the German city of Emden, on 12 March 1942, and by 1 Jun 1942 Cliff and his crew had participated in 10 sorties totalling about 70 hours.
On the night of 1 Jun 1942 they participated in an Operational flight, with Cliff as the 2nd Pilot of a Wellington Bomber in an attack on Essen from their base at Breighton, midway between Leeds and England's east coast . His debrief gives us a idea of what happened and how he spent the next three years.
"On the return trip while crossing the coast of Holland at a height of several hundred feet we were fired on by two flak ships. The plane caught fire - engines and fuselage, and controls were apparently damaged, and we crashed into the sea somewhere near Flushing. I remember nothing from a few seconds before the crash until three or four hours afterwards when the Captain, Navigator, Front Gunner and myself were being taken in an ambulance from a dressing station to hospital at Bergen op Zoom, Holland."
"Saw no trace of Wireless Operator or Rear Gunner after we crashed. Front Gunner died in hospital on 20th July 1942 from wounds received and was buried at Bergen Op Zoom.""I was a prisoner in enemy hands from 2 Jun 1942 until released by the Russians on 22 Apr 1945. 
He related that they had hot showers about every 10-14 days, but had cold water in all barracks depending on pressure available. Their sanitary facilities were crude but effective. They played sports, put on theatre shows, musical recitals, had a good general and reference library. Their knowledge of news was confined to that from wirelesses in the camp.
Cliff had received flesh wounds to his right thigh and left foot. He was captured with Flight Lieutenant Holland, and Sergeants Dansey and Cheese, while Sergeants Bienke and Watson were presumed killed, either before or during the crash. All were RAAF personnel. On 3 Jun 1942 Cliff had been reported missing to Headquarters by 460 Squadron.
He was admitted to the Marine Hospital, Bergen op Zoom in Holland from 2 Jun until 27 Jul 1942. On 7 Jul 1942 word had been received in England of his circumstances and his status was amended to POW. Recovered, he was confined, - initially held in Stalag VIII B 344, and given POW number 2508 from 5 Aug 1942 until 22 Jan 1945. Next he was transferred to Stalag 111A from 8 Feb 1945 until 8 May 1945, although it might be assumed with Russian oversight from 22 April until 8 May 1945.
On release, in his War Crimes Questionnaire he reported inappropriate use of prisoners in dangerous conditions; their use on military works; transport under improper conditions; and collective punishment for offences by others. The last two he had observed himself. During his detention in Stalag 344, many working parties left camp to work in Silesian coal mines. At Bleckhamer the working party camp was surrounded by factory buildings hosting synthetic oil refineries which were the target of allied bombing causing many POW deaths. During January 1945, 1,300 Air Force personnel were marched as far as Goldberg before being put into cattle trucks for the journey to Luckenwalde. Many of the POWs in Stalag 344 were after October 1942 kept in chains for about 12 months. They were kept outside in winter months for hours at a time as group punishment for being late for parades.
On repatriation to England Cliff was sent to No 11 Squadron (RAAF) at RAF Station Brighton, and on 23 Jun 1945 he married Dorothy May Dixon (b. 23 Jun 1923, d. 12 Aug 1980 in Kelmscott), in England. Cliff was discharged on 26 Nov 1945.
On 4 Jan 1957, Cliff, Dorothy, and their four children; Warwick Ian, Peter Courtney, Wendy A, and Robert C arrived in Fremantle aboard SS Moreton Bay from London.
Electoral Roll entries: 1949 at Albany highway, Armadale, orchardist; 1954 at Miling, manager; 1958 - 1972 Bedfordale Hill road, store manager; 1977 - 1980 at 4 Gemsarna crescent, Kelmscott, clerk.
- Statement by WO Douglas 1 July 1945