Clifford, or Cliff as he was known to his mates, was born on the 23rd November 1916 in Sydney and he enlisted in the RAAF on the 1st February 1941.
Unfortunately, we don’t know much about Cliff. However, as seen by the photo, it appears that he may have enjoyed a “gamble” as apparently he was playing poker at the time. The photo was taken from a montage in the Western Mail in Perth on the 3rd June 1943.
The other photo is of his Assessing Officers Statement. At the bottom of the page, we can see that he was placed on a charge: “While a passenger in Ryan aircraft A50-15 he took over and flew the said aircraft without being properly authorised.” Apparently, this was a no-no as he received a “severe reprimand.” However, all ends well because at the top of the page, “he has shown an earnest desire to make amends.”
We do know a bit about the Ryan Trainer and it may very well have been the aircraft he is sitting in below. The photo is courtesy of Keith Webb from the Temora Aviation Museum.
In 1939, the Ryan Company in America produced the Ryan ST-A, which was an improved version of the original Ryan ST (Sports Trainer) of 1933. The ST-A attracted wide attention and a military version was developed with larger cockpits, dual controls, and night-flying equipment.
This aircraft became the first low-wing monoplane trainer to be used by the USAAC, where it was known as the PT-16. The Dutch Government purchased a large number of these trainers, as STMs, for service with the Royal Netherlands Indies Army Air Corps and, early in 1942, some of these aircraft were captured and used by the Japanese. However, the remaining Dutch Ryans were evacuated to Australia, including the STM-2 seaplane version which had been used in Java.
34 Ryan STMs were absorbed into the RAAF, and the first aircraft, A50-1, was received on the 21st July 1942 and the last, A50-34, on the 27th August 1942. The Ryans were used mainly for refresher training at a variety of aircrew training units, while others were flown on transport missions with Nos 1, 2 and 3 Communications Units. Also, at least one float-plane version operated for a short time from RAAF Rathmines.
We also have a photo of Cliff’s Half-Yearly Return of Flying Hours which shows that he had accrued 121:50 flying time in Spitfires
Cliff was discharged from the RAAF on the 3rd April 1945.
RAAF Museum Point Cook
Updated by Vince Conant
The Spitfire Association