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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. C Whitehead


Clifford Whitehead was born on 26th April 1915 in Warwickshire, the son of Campbell John Whitehead and Mabel Maria Whitehead (nee Culley).

His father was a LNER stationmaster. The family moved to Wakefield in Yorkshire and he was educated at Ossett Grammar School.

Whitehead joined the RAF in September 1931 as an Aircraft Apprentice and passed out in August 1934 as a Metal Rigger. He later applied for pilot training and was selected.

He married Annie Elizabeth Chamberlain in Sheffield in early 1938.

In September 1939 Whitehead was serving with 56 Squadron at North Weald. On 16th May 1940 Whitehead went with 'B' Flight to Vitry-en-Artois to support the squadrons in France. On the 17th he destroyed a He111 east of Cambrai and damaged another and on the 18th destroyed two Me110s south of Vitry.



On the evening of the 18th the flight evacuated Vitry and went to Norrent Fontes. Whitehead and Sgt. FW Higginson were sent back to destroy the remaining aircraft and stores. When they finally left Vitry, the Germans were only three to four miles away.

Over Dunkirk on 29th May Whitehead probably destroyed a Me 109. On 10th July he claimed a Me110 destroyed, on 16th August shared a Do17, on the 18th shared a Me110, and on the 28th he destroyed a Do17.

During a combat with enemy fighters over Colchester on the 31st, Whitehead baled out of Hurricane V6628, unhurt.

He was awarded the DFM (gazetted 30th August 1940).

On 7th October he probably destroyed a Me109 and a Me110.


Above: his portrait was made by Cuthbert Orde in December 1940.


Commissioned in January 1941, Whitehead was killed on 4th July 1942 as a Flying Officer instructor with 4 EFTS Brough. Tiger Moth T8200 was airborne from Bellasize landing ground when it spun in, cause unknown, close to Newland Gate Farm, Howden, Yorkshire.

Whitehead was 27. He is buried in Arnold Cemetery, Nottinghamshire.







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