From Phil Morgan
33 Sea Point
The Knap Barry
Vale of Glamorgan
On a recent trip to Brittany I was able to carry a Poppy Wreath provided by members of a British Legion Branch and others. The Squadron Crest that you provided was printed and attached by friends at a local sign-making firm.
On Sunday 21 October 2007 the wreath was laid on the grave at Reguiny cemetery in the presence of a small expatriate assembly, which included Madame Joy Magdassian, who some years ago traced the Clifford family and ensured that his two brothers were present at an earlier ceremony.
The small museum at Reguiny has a section devoted to Flying Officer Clifford. The Curator, Madame Francoise Le Breton, maintains an interest in the grave and ensures that he is not forgotten.
Some current photographs and a copy of the Museum leaflet are enclosed, and are given freely for you to use as you wish.
Arrangements were made by the expatriate community to provide Madame Le Breton with a replacement Union Flag for the grave, I understand that this has now taken place. The Squadron can be assured that this airman is not forgotten in Brittany.
My Best Wishes
On 28 July 1944 at 1700 hrs Flt Lt John T Clifford and seven of his comrades under the command of Squadron Leader William Douglas took off from their base "Bolt Head" in the South of England for a sortie over Occupied France.
A pilot with six years experience in the Royal Air Force, John Clifford was taking part in a “Rhubarb" operation over Brittany to reconnoitre and destroy German military objectives and road traffic.
Whilst attacking a lorry of the German TODT Organisation the Spitfire of John Clifford struck a tree with the tip of its right wing. The plane crashed in a wood by the Josselin-Pontivy road close to the town of Reguiny.
On Friday 28 July 1944 some residents of Reguiny proceeded to the crash site to render assistance, but were prevented in doing so by German troops from a nearby camp. The flames of the crash attracted the attention of a passing German convoy. A German officer, wounded, with his arm in a sling looked at the body of the young British officer. He instructed that the Red Cross or civilian authorities should be advised, and recommended that a formal burial should be carried out, stating "He is the same rank as myself. He then ordered the German troops to return to their camp, leaving the people of Reguiny to attend the scene. Two days later on 30 July 1944 a numerous crowd assembled to accompany the funeral cortege.
At the church, Monsieur Joachim Roscoet, Mayor of Reguiny, placed a tricolour wreath on the coffin in homage to the sacrifice of a young British officer who gave his life for the liberation of France.
Finally, at the cemetery the grave was covered with flowers.
The grave of the pilot is situated in the cemetery of Reguiny. A plaque at the entrance records the presence of a British military grave.
ON July 28, 1944, Flying Officer John (Jack) Clifford, of Liverpool's "own" 611 Squadron, was attacking a German lorry in his Spitfire over France, when he crashed at Bel-Orient and was killed.
"The good villagers of Reguiny buried him," says Ken Reeves, of Greasby, Honorary Secretary of 611 Squadron Association, and have lovingly tended his grave ever since.
John, from Devon, is regarded as a hero of the Liberation and a museum, the John Clifford RAF Museum, is being created.
A memorial service was attended by his family and practically everyone in the area.
Word came too late for the association to attend but it sent a wreath of silk flowers in the form of a RAF roundel with Squadron crest.
A letter of appreciation from members to the citizens of Reguiny was translated and read out
Among the 611 Squadron memorabilia being gathered for presentation to the museum is the special Echo souvenir, "Local Heroes," of September, 1990 — a tribute to the Squadron.