PARTRIDGE Clarence

Clarence Arthur PARTRIDGE 1913 – 1944

1623818 Sergeant Clarence Arthur Partridge, 640 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve was killed in action 3 June 1944 aged 31.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, near Windsor, London. [1]

Family Details [2]

Clarence Arthur was born c.1913 at Harrogate, North Yorkshire.  Known as “Clary”, he was the husband of Hilda and father of Anne (b.1935), Keith (b.1937), Derrick (b1940) and Christine.  Christine was born 6 June 1944, D-Day and 3 days after her father’s death.  The family lived at South View, Deighton Bar, near Wetherby, North Yorkshire where Clary had worked as a mechanic for a bus company.  Hilda later married Bob Stones and settled in Evenwood to whom she had a daughter Lynda.

Service Details

The service record of 1623818 Sergeant Clarence Partridge has not been researched.  

Number 640 Squadron was formed in January 1944 as part of No. 4 Group.  It took part in the main bombing offensive against Germany as part of Bomber Command’s main bomber force.  Between January 1944 and March 1945, the Handley Page Halifax B.Mk.III was flown for these missions.  The squadron was based at RAF Leconfield, near Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire. Later, from March 1945, the squadron was one of 6 in No.4 Group to operate the Halifax B. Mk.VI before the end of the war.  It was disbanded 7 May 1945.

Sergeant C.A. Partridge was the flight engineer in the crew of Flight Lieutenant J.W.S. Skinner.  Their aircraft Halifax Mk. III (C8-G Serial No.MZ677) was one of 15 squadron aircraft that formed part of the 128 bomber aircraft despatched to attack rail yards at Trappes, France on the night of 2/3 June 1944.  The raid cost Bomber Command 16 aircraft, representing 12.5% of the force.  640 Squadron lost 3 aircraft (20%) including F/Lt. Skinner’s.  There was heavy flak over the target and at least 1 bomber was shot down near Evreux but on the homeward trip there was intense night-fighter activity from Trappes to the coast and many aircraft were seen to go down in flames. 

Post war intelligence reports compiled from interviews with the survivors [3] state that the aircraft was attacked on two occasions by night fighters on its homeward journey. During the second attack both the pilot, John Skinner and Flight Engineer, Clarence Partridge were wounded and the aircraft controls were “shot away”. The pilot gave the order to bale out. The Bomb Aimer, Bertram Wright and Navigator, Peter Tannen, dropped out of the forward escape hatch, the Wireless Operator, Jack Martin, followed but was trapped in the hatchway by the force of the slip stream. Shortly an explosion in the aircraft pushed him out and he was able to open his parachute and make a safe, if painful landing, dislocating his left knee. Both Bomb Aimer and Navigator were captured and spent the remainder of the war as Prisoners. The Wireless Operator was able to contact the resistance with the help of a local boy who found him. He was sheltered in several locations near Houdan until the allied forces liberated the area in August 1944.

On liberation, Jack Martin was taken to see two aircraft that had crashed on the night of 2/3rd June. The first he identified as his aircraft C8-G, MZ677 and in the wreckage he saw three parachute harnesses. A local inhabitant told him the aircraft had contained the bodies of three airmen, two of whom had been identified as John Skinner (Pilot) and Eric Foulkes (Air Gunner), the other unidentified Air Gunner was therefore Dennis Scott. A fourth man had baled out but had died of his wounds. The local man produced a photograph that had belonged to this man and Jack Martin recognised him as the Flight Engineer, 1623818 Clarence Partridge.

The aircraft had come down in Boutigny-sur-Opton, close to the former Commune de Champagne, [4] a small village, approximately 9 miles ENE of Dreux, France. F. Lt. Skinner, Sgt. Scott and Sgt. Foulkes now lie in Dreux cemetery. Sadly, there is no known record of Sgt. Partridge’s burial place and thus he is recorded as “missing in action”.[5]

1623818 Sergeant Clarence Arthur Partridge was killed in action 3 June 1944. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, near Windsor, Berkshire.[6]

Commemoration, the Runnymede Memorial [7]

 Sergeant Clarence Arthur Partridge is commemorated at panel 235 on the Runnymede Memorial.  The Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede commemorates over 20,000 airmen who were lost in the Second World War during operations from bases in Britain and NW Europe who have no known graves.  They served in Bomber, Fighter, Coastal, Transport, Flying Training and Maintenance Command. 

RAF Memorial, London

The RAF Memorial on the Victoria Embankment, London was erected in 1923 as a memorial to:

“all ranks of the Royal Navy Air Service, Royal Flying Corps, Royal Air Force and those Air Forces from every part of the British Empire who gave their lives in winning victory for their King and Country 1914-1918”.

An inscription commemorating those lost in the 1939-1945 war was added in 1946.  The base is Portland stone, the eagle and globe are bronze.

Books of Remembrance, RAF Central Church, St. Clement Danes, The Strand, London [8]

 Sergeant C. Partridge is commemorated here. 

640 Squadron Memorial, Beverley, East Yorkshire [9]

Clarence Partridge is remembered by others associated with No. 640 Squadron.  A wreath is laid every year at the Squadron Memorial in Beverley shortly before the annual commemorations. 

Acknowledgments

  1. Anne Agar and Lynda Ord for providing family details
  2. Chris Keightley for providing details of the incident.  Perhaps a burial site can be identified and confirmed.
  3. Dave and Joan Evans for photos of the Runnymede Memorial

REFERENCES

[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] Lynda Stones

[3] The National Archives, Liberated Prisoner of War Interrogation Questionnaires WO 344/311/1 TABB-TANSLEY & WO 344/355/1 WRAGG-WRIGHT E. and The National Archives Evasion Report WO 208/3326/2910.

[4] The National Archives Evasion Report WO 208/3326/2910.

[5] Bill Norman & Air Historical Branch, Ministry of Defence letter dated 22 February 2011

[6] CWGC

[7] CWGC

[8] Air Historical Branch, Ministry of Defence letter dated 22 February 2011

[9] Chris Keightley emails dated 5 & 18 October 202

PHOTOGRAPHS

Sergeant Clarence Partridge 

THE RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL