The Airmen's Stories - P/O J K G Clifton
John Kenneth Grahame Clifton was born in Plymouth on 20th October 1918, his family moved to Taunton in 1928 and he was educated at Taunton School 1927-38.
He toured Jamaica in 1938 with the school cricket team.
Clifton joined the RAF on a short service commission in February 1939 and trained initially at 11 E&RFTS, Perth.
He then went to 2 FTS Brize Norton in June and was then posted to 253 Squadron at Manston on 6th November 1939.
Above: Clifton (left) with P/O DNO Jenkins at Northolt in March 1940.
Above image courtesy of Kenley Revival.
Throughout his service he had been known as Kenneth or Ken and 253 added the nickname 'Curly'.
On 31st August he claimed a He111 destroyed.
At 13.35 hours on 1st September 1940 253 Squadron were scrambled from Kenley to intercept a large formation of Do17s and Me110s crossing the channel between Dover and Dungeness.
Just north of Dungeness Clifton, in Hurricane P5185, was hit by return enemy fire and he was wounded.
A Staplehurst resident, the late Bill Collins who lived Clapper Lane in 1940, was working on his land and could see tiny dots which he knew were aircraft high in the sky over towards the Tenterden area. He watched one of these dots fall out of the sky and get bigger and bigger. It came towards him and at one point he thought the aircraft would crash into his bungalow. He could clearly see the pilot who appeared to be slumped over the controls. The aircraft banked sharply to port before crashing into Grave Lane, Staplehurst.
Clifton's remains were later recovered and buried in St. Johns Churchyard, Staplegrove, Somerset. He was 21 years of age.
On the anniversary of his loss, 1st September 2009, a memorial cross was unveiled at the crash site.
Above (left) L to R: W/Cdr R Foster, Reverend Canon Gill Calver, G/Capt P Tootal, Edward Sergison (who instigated the project)
(Above: W/Cdr Foster unveils the memorial)