Letter to the Lord Mayor about George Clifford

The letter reads:-

Brought to the attention of the Lord Mayor by Mr. C.R.G. Davis of the Bristol Evening Post

A British bomber made a forced landing in St. Andrew's Park, Bristol, on the night of April 30th, 1941, and caught fire.

George Albert Clifford, City & Marine Ambulance driver, of 54, Sandbed Road, St. Werberghs, Bristol, who was near at the time (he was off duty) hurried to the 'plane and with Corporal Rosser, R.A.F., attempted rescue work.

There were bombs in the 'plane and machine gun ammunition was constantly exploding.

Clifford entered the 'plane and succeded in getting the pilot out of his harness and out of the plane.

The pilot was dead, another member of the crew was dead outside the 'plane, and others had got out previously.

Clifford obviously took the risk of injury or death.

He had previously been presented to H.M. the King, who was told of his courageous conduct during raids; he had also on another occasion saved the life of a negro who (?) fell into Avonmouth docks.

George Clifford being presented to the King

The Western Daily Press published the photo to the left on 17th December 1940 (the day after the Kings visit). The caption under this picture read:-

"GIVE ME YOUR HAND, I glory in your pluck," said the King, at St. Pauls, to Mr. George Clifford, ambulance driver, who told his Majesty how he rescued air-raid victims on the spot where the King was standing. Behind, holding her son, Desmond John, is Mrs. Beatrice Herbert. She was sheltering with seven other people under the stairs when a bomb wrecked the house, but they all managed to get out unhurt. "Where was your house?" asked the King. "You're standing on it," she replied, pointing to the rubble underfoot. Centre, Civil Engineer, Mr. H.M. Webb (A.R.P. Controller).

In the same newspaper was the following report:-

Police report on George
Clifford's rescue attempt

The C.I.D. police report reads:-

"Tuesday, 27th May 1941

Recommendation for Gallantry


I beg to report with reference to the attached letter from the Office of the Regional Commissioner dated the 7th May 1941, I have made enquiries.

The account of the action as set out by Mr Davis of the Bristol Evening Post was reported to that newspaper by Clifford himself, and I am unable to obtain any confirmation of the circumstances of the attempted rescue from an eye-witness.

It appears that the aircraft carried a crew of six, the Pilot Officer, to whom Clifford refers, and two others being killed. Clifford claims that he and Cpl. Rosser dragged the body of the Pilot Officer from beneath a wing of the 'plane whilst petrol was burning on the ground nearby, and that to rescue him they ran risks not only from the petrol fire, but incendiary bombs and exploding ammunition.

His statement as to the incendiary bombs is incorrect, and no mention is made of Clifford's rescue in the police report on the subject. So far as is known, the spot from which the body of the Pilot Officer was removed was that to which it was thrown when the 'plane crashed.

From information I have obtained from various sources it appears that Clifford's word is not to be relied upon. That he had some dealings with the incident is not in doubt by reason of the fact that he is known to have surrendered articles of personal property belonging to the Pilot Officer to Police, but in order to establish the merit of his action it seems necessary to interview Cpl. Rosser and also ascertain the identity of a member of the Home Guard who Clifford gives as a witness.

Cpl. Rosser was unknown to Clifford until he met him at the scene of the crash, but is said to have volunteered the information that he was attached to the 501st Squadron, R.A.F. at Filton, Bristol. It is understood that this Unit has now moved to Colerne, and I therefore respectfully suggest that the Wiltshire Police, Chippenham, be asked to interview him and obtain a detailed statement as to the action he himself took, and anything he actually saw Clifford perform, together with any information he can furnish regarding the Home Guard and others who may be able to corroborate the account given.

I would further respectfully suggest that the Office of the Regional Commissioner be advised of the action taken."

This report can be found at the
Bristol Public Records Office. The other police report mentioned above
cannot be found.