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The Airmen's Stories - F/O W G Clouston


Wilfrid Greville Clouston was born in Auckland on 15th January 1916 and learned to fly privately at Rongotai in 1935. After being provisionally accepted for a short service commission in the RAF he sailed for the UK in June 1936.

He began his initial training on 31st August 1936. Clouston was posted to 7 FTS Peterborough in October and after completing his training joined 19 Squadron at Duxford in June 1937.

He became squadron adjutant in late 1938 and on 1st October 1939 he was promoted to Acting Flight Lieutenant and appointed 'B' Flight Commander.



On 11th March 1939 Clouston was detached from 19 Squadron to Sutton Bridge for an Air Firing Instructors course. He returned to his squadron a week later.


Above: he married in January 1940.


On 11th May 1940 Clouston shared in the destruction of a Ju88, on the 23rd he destroyed a Me109, on the 26th two Ju87s, on the 27th a Do17 and shared another probable and on 1st June a Me109 and another shared.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 24th June 1940).

As part of the Duxford Wing, 19 Squadron look an increasingly active role in August. On the 2nd Clouston damaged a He111, on the 31st shared a Me110, on 9th September destroyed a Me109 and probably another, on the 15th destroyed two Me110s and a Do17 and on the 18th a Ju88.

On 19th November 1940 Clouston was given command of 258 Squadron, then reforming at Leconfield.

On 22nd August 1941 he was appointed to command 488 Squadron, then being formed at Rongotai, New Zealand. He went out to Singapore to prepare for the arrival of its pilots and ground staff. They arrived on 10th October and the inexperienced pilots were sent to an OTU at Kluang to convert to Brewster Buffalos.

The ground staff, based al Kallang, tried to make serviceable the twenty-one Buffalos left behind by 67 Squadron, which had moved up to Burma.

Clouston's orders were to get the squadron operational as soon as possible but lack of tools and spares, coupled with the aircraft's poor performance, made 488 Squadron a weak opponent for the Japanese.

Out-flown and out-manoeuvred, the squadron dwindled in numbers in spite of being strengthened by nine Hurricanes on 24th January 1942. A week later its aircraft evacuated to Sumatra and in mid-February those that remained were handed over to 605 Squadron and 488 Squadron ceased to exist.

Clouston was posted to HQ RAF Singapore on 23rd January and he was captured when the Japanese occupied the city.

Freed in September 1945, he returned to the UK and was granted a permanent commission. He held a number of commands and appointments before retiring on 20th March 1957 as a Wing Commander.

After his return to New Zealand, Clouston took up farming in Hawke's Bay. The privations he suffered as a prisoner of the Japanese almost certainly contributed to the deterioration of his health in the late 1970s.

In May 1980 he was admitted to hospital in Waipukurau following a fall. He appeared to be making a good recovery but died suddenly on 24th May.


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