Rank & Name: F/L Charles C.E. Cleland DFM (RCAF)
Date of Death: Unknown - returned.


F/L Charles C. E. Cleland DFM was born at Ormstown Quebec, son of Charlie Cleland and wife Elizabeth (Bruce) Cleland. He was educated at the Huntingdon QC, Academy and Canadian School of Electricity, Montreal.
On 12 January 1938 he enlisted in the Royal Air Force (RAF). From September 1938 to June 1939 he trained at No. 1 Wireless School and from June 1939 to October 1939 received instruction in air gunnery at Andover UK.

In May 1940 Cleland was posted to No. 59 Squadron RAF. From May 1940 to June 1940 he carried out 20 risky and dangerous tactical and reconnaissance missions to heavily defended targets in France, Belgium, and Holland, including strikes at enemy shipping.On 12 May 1940, while acting as air gunner (AC2), Cleland, by his coolness and steady fire, drove off an attacking enemy aircraft and caused others to break away. Defensive fire was maintained by Cleland under difficult conditions, which allowed his pilot to make important observations. Not only did he take part in the bombing of the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau while they lay at Brest, but he participated in operations all over Europe from North Germany to Bordeaux, France.

From October to December 1941, he received a bit of a respite as Officer in Charge of the Central Gunnery school in the UK. After more dangerous and risky bombing missions to heavily defended targets such as Lorient, France, Cherbourg France, Boulogne France, Caen France, Brest France, and 116 flying hours in "harm's way", he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM), on August 6, 1940, the first Canadian non-commissioned officer to do so. In February 1942, after completing two tours of operations, he was posted back to Canada to go on a war bond drive in Canada and the USA. In September 1944 while stationed at No. 2 Air Navigation School at Mountain View Ontario (ON), as Chief Gunnery Officer, Cleland transferred to the RCAF.
In December 1944, Flight Lieutenant Cleland was a senior instructor, stationed at No. 5 Radio School at Clinton ON. He resigned from the RCAF in February 1946 and joined Atomic Energy of Canada (AEC) at Chalk River ON. He rejoined the RCAF, and on leave from AEC spent the next six summers as a training officer, then retired from the RCAF. He retired from Atomic Energy of Canada in 1977. He married Margaret Tufts and they had four children; Robert, Gregg, Elizabeth and Ann.


Further Information

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Rest In Peace