Two years ago I wrote a magazine article for Qweekend, the Saturday colour magazine in Queensland’s major newspaper The Courier-Mail, about a plaque on a rock in front of a tree near my home. It said the tree was planted in memory of Flight Sergeant Clifford Berger Hopgood RAAF who was killed when his plane was shot down over France on February 24, 1944. I set about researching Cliff Hopgood and, through his RAAF file found out about the details of his death and the fact that he, along with three of his comrades, is buried in the churchyard at the village of Villers-sous-Preny in northern France. They were the crew of a Lancaster bomber from RAAF 460 Squadron, based at Binbrook, Lincolnshire, on a mission to bomb a ball bearing factory in Schweinfurt, Germany. Two other members of the crew escaped to Switzerland with the help of the French Underground, and the third saw out the war as a POW. From a 90 year-old neighbour I traced Hopgood’s son Robert, who told me about the effect his father’s death had on him and his mother. The article received a huge response and won the 2011 Walkley Award (Australian journalism’s most prestigious award) for magazine feature writing. Most significantly, I was contacted by the daughter of one of the two escapers who gave me her father’s journal recounting the details of the fatal flight and his escape. With this as the starting point, and a book contract with a major publisher, I am expanding the original story to include all the members of the crew, which was made up of five Australian and two RAF men, both of whom were from Ayrshire. So far I have made excellent progress researching the Australians and have been in contact with the family of one of the Ayrshire boys, Peter Mallon from Irvine, who was the flight engineer, but have had next to no luck at all with the other.
All I know is that his name was John McClymont Dunlop, service number: 1822043. He was the rear gunner, aged 19. Peter Mallon’s nephew believes he was from Troon.
If anyone has any information about John McClymont Dunlop, or his family, I would be enormously grateful. I have attached a copy of the original story for your information. Many thanks again, Mike Colman