Clifford James Evans was a Welshman who is thought to have arrived in Chelmsford during the 1930s. He worked for three years with the Chelmsford bakers, Messrs. Frank Poney before joining R.A.F. Bomber Command. He was killed on his 29th mission when his aircraft was shot down over Germany on its return from a raid on Berlin. His parents lived in Mildmay Road, Chelmsford.
Clifford was born in Merthyr Tydfil. Wales in 1923, the younger son of the coal miner Evan Evans (1886-1967) and Edith Florence Evans (nee Wilcox) (1885-1962). The couple had married in Glamorganshire in 1907.
Clifford’s elder brother was Evan David Evans (1908-1987).
Clifford’s family is thought to have been one of many that relocated from south Wales to Chelmsford around 1930, attracted by better employment prospects. Clifford was employed by the Chelmsford bakers Messrs Frank Poney.
Early in the Second World War he served as Sergeant (Flight Engineer) 1339689 in 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron, Royal Air Force.
In June 1943 he was best man when Ronald Morgan Greaves married Joan Anne Eday at St. John's Church, Moulsham.
On 24th March 1944 Clifford was the engineer in a Lancaster III aircraft ND565 (markings KM-C) which took off at 6.49 p.m. on from R.A.F. Dunholme Lodge, a Bomber Command airfield three and a half miles from Lincoln, for a raid on Berlin. Some 811 aircraft - 577 Lancaster aircraft, 216 Halifax aircraft, and 18 Mosquito aircraft participated in the raid which was the last major RAF raid on Berlin during the war, although the city would be bombed many times by small forces of Mosquito aircraft.
It was Clifford's 29th mission and as such he was due to be taken off air operations shortly. By then he had served in the R.A.F. for more than three years. His crew mates were Flying Officer (Pilot) 157299 Albert Evans (aged 22), Flight Sergeant (Pilot) 1388158 Alfred George Terrell, Flying Officer (Navigator) 132868 George Frederick Garland (aged 29), Flight Sergeant (Air Bomber) 1266780 Peter James Hatton (aged 21), Flight Sergeant (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner) 1027466 Alan Peter Myles, Sergeant R/203545 Melvin Elwood Burnard (aged 20) (Royal Canadian Air Force), and Sergeant (Air Gunner) 932588 Kenneth Victor Miller.
Clifford James EVANS, Sergeant (Flight Engineer), 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Killed when his aircraft was shot down near Dusseldorf, Germany. Aged 21
That night became known in Bomber Command as 'the night of the strong winds'. A powerful wind from the north carried the bombers south at every stage of the flight. Not only was this wind not forecast accurately but it was so strong that the various methods available to warn crews of wind changes during the flight failed to detect the full strength of it. The bomber stream became very scattered, particularly on the homeward flight and radar-predicted flak batteries at many places were able to score successes.
Part of the bomber force even strayed over the Ruhr defences on the return flight. It is believed that approximately 50 of the 72 aircraft lost were destroyed by flak including Clifford's aircraft which was on its way back to England when it drifted south of its intended flight path and was shot down by anti-aircraft fire. It crashed at Angermund, some ten kilometres north of Düsseldorf in Germany, by the railway line to Duisburg. The aircraft had flown a total of 106 hours. Another 44 Squadron Lancaster, ME672, was shot down during the mission. The total losses that night were relatively high, some 8.9 per cent of the force.
At the time of his death Clifford's parents were living at 31 Mildmay Road in Chelmsford, while his brother was also serving in the Royal Air Force. An adopted brother, William Parry, had been killed early in the war while serving with the Royal Navy.
Today Clifford lies at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery (grave 7. A. 15.). The cemetery, which was created after the Second World War when burials were brought in from all over western Germany, is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the country and also contains the graves of his six crew mates.