981604 Corporal Mathew CLENNELL, Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve [RAFVR]

Family Details

Mathew [Matt] Clennell was born 17 November 1919, the son of Mathew and Hannah Clennell.  There were at least 6 children Mary, George, Mathew [Matt], Alfred [Alf], William [Bill] and Elizabeth [Betty].

In 1939, the family lived at the Trotters Arms, Ramshaw where Mathew [senior] is recorded as being an “Innkeeper & gas regulator Bye-product works”, in other words, he worked at Randolph Cokeworks and was a publican.  Mathew [junior] worked at Randolph brickworks, Evenwood and Bill was at school.  Mathew [senior] was an ARP warden.[1]

Service Record [2]

981606 Corporal M. Clennell, Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve served between 14 June 1940 and 7 April 1946 in the Rifle Squadron as a gunner.  He served in France & Germany, probably from November 1944 until 17 November 1945 with 2843 Squadron and later with 2717 Squadron, both Rifle Squadrons and part of 2nd Tactical Air Force.  It is likely that he was posted to one or more of these airfields – Capelle, Gilze Rijen, Grimbergen, Delden, Scheuen, Dedelstorf, Ahlhorn, possibly Melsbroek and Celle.  Corporal M. Clennell was awarded the 1939/40 Star, France & Germany Star, Defence Medal and was Mentioned in Despatches [MiD].



12 March 1940 [Date of Enlistment]: 3 Reserve Command [RC] Padgate as Aircraft Hand [ACH] General duties [GD]

  • 14 June 1940: 9 RC Padgate
  • 4 July 1940: 1 Air Armament School [AAS]
  • 5 October 1940: ACH/GG
  • 11 August 1941: A.A. Manby
  • 11 September 1941: Gunner V
  • 3 December 1941: Leading Aircraftman [LAC]

6 October 1942: 2782 Squadron: Formed as No 782 Squadron at Manby in July 1941, having been unnumbered from the previous April.   On 1 February 1942 all ground defence squadrons were absorbed into the RAF Regiment and these Squadrons had 2000 added to their numbers.   The squadron converted to the Light Anti-Aircraft role in May 1943 and disbanded in July 1945, by which time it has moved to St Eval.[3]

23 February 1943: 2843 Squadron: Initially based at Thame, it became a Field Squadron in March 1943 and joined 2nd Tactical Air Force in April 1944.  It became a Rifle Squadron in September 1944 and moved to the continent in November 1944.  It was initially deployed to Maldegem, before further moves took it to Capelle, Gilze Rijen, Grimbergen, Delden, Scheuen, Dedelstorf and Ahlhorn, where it disbanded in August 1946.[4]

  • 12 May 1943: Filey [attending a course]
  • 2 June 1943: 2843 Squadron
  • 13 August 1943: IMT School [MT = mechanical transport, I = ?]
  • 14 September 1943: 2843 Squadron
  • 2 January 1944: Great Sampford [2843 Squadron]
  • 23 November 1944: disemb. cont. [?]
  • 31 December 1944: promoted to Corporal

18 August 1945: 2717 Squadron: The squadron joined 2nd Tactical Air Force in April 1944 and became a Rifle Squadron in July 1944, moving onto the continent in August 1944, becoming together with 2757 Squadron and an RAF Air Intelligence Team the first RAF unit to enter Rouen.  It later moved into Belgium, serving at Brussels Maele, Damme, on the Leopold Canal and Antwerp before arriving at Melsbroek, where it was based during Operation ‘Bodenplatte’ (the Luftwaffe attack on Allied airfields on 1 January 1945).In 1945 it moved to Celle before being transferred from BAFO to Palestine in October 1945, serving at Ramleh, Petat Tiqav and Jerusalem, disbanding by being renumbered  52 (Rifle) Squadron on 8 June 1947.  During its service in North-West Europe, four members of the squadron were awarded the Croix de Guerre.[5]

  • 17 November 1945: 4 RAF RS Depot
  • 6 December 1945: 19 RC
  • 7 April 1946: Released

The RAF Regiment: 2nd Tactical Air Force:  [6]

The RAF Regiment had been formed to defend airfields in the UK. Until 1942 this had been the role of the army. For the Invasion of Europe, it was planned that the Regiment would provide one field squadron and one light anti-aircraft squadron for each airfield. Each pair of squadrons would be controlled by a Wing headquarters. At the time of D Day a field squadron included an armoured car flight. Shortly afterwards the armoured car flights were removed and formed separate armoured car squadrons.

The first two wings landed on D+1 and built up rapidly until there were eighteen wings by the end of August. The duties included:

A] Airfield defence which included a perimeter defence by rifle squadrons and ant-aircraft defence by LAA squadrons. There was not generally a lot of action but on 1 January when the Luftwaffe attacked British airfields the LAA squadrons claimed 43 aircraft shot down and 28 damaged.
B] Mine clearing in areas to be occupied by RAF units. Rifle squadrons were trained in field pioneer tasks:
1] Assisting with airfield construction. Not their usual role but in the early days labour was in short supply. Later civilian labour and prisoners of war were available.
2] Escorting technical intelligence teams. Whenever the capture of an enemy airfield seemed imminent technical intelligence teams aimed to arrive with the leading troops to secure any documents and equipment.
3] Securing forward airfields. This again meant being well up front in order to either secure captured enemy airfields or the sites for new ones.
4] Holding sections of the front line under army command. At times all manner of troops were called on to relieve the infantry in the front line. The Regiment had already contributed 40,000 trained men who were no longer needed in the UK.
5] Defending forward radar units. Many of these units were set up close to the front line and did not have the manpower to protect themselves for long.

Ultimately there were 40 rifle squadrons, 28 LAA squadrons and six armoured car squadrons.  The Rifle squadrons were organised and equipped as for an army infantry rifle company and were numbered – 2710, 2713, 2714, 2717, 2719, 2726, 2729, 2731, 2738, 2740, 2742, 2749, 2750, 2765, 2768, 2770, 2798, 2805, 2807, 2811, 2814, 2816, 2822, 2827, 2829, 2831, 2843, 2844, 2848, 2853, 2856, 2858, 2863, 2865, 2868, 2871, 2878, 2879, 2883, 2897. [7]


981604 Corporal Mathew Clennell, Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve [RAFVR] was awarded the 1939/40 Star, France & Germany Star, Defence Medal and was Mentioned in Dispatches.[8]

Post War

1945: Mathew Clennell married Vera Lamb [9] and they had 2 sons John and Derek.  Matt worked in the building trade as a bricklayer.


[1] 1939 Register

[2] Record of Service provided by RAF 12 July 2019




[6] “Through Adversity” K.M Oliver 1997 and p.127 – 147 covers the N.W. Europe campaign of WW2


[8] London Gazette 4 June 1945

[9] England & Wales Marriage Index 1916-2005 Vol.10a p.795 1945 Q3 Durham South Western