Name: Paul Klipsch
Joined 92: March 1940
Died: 23 May 1940
Photo: Eric Wynn-Owen
Paul joined the RAF on 1st February 1933 as a 16 year old apprentice on Number 27 Entry at RAF Halton. Being a spirited youngster, he had, unbeknown to his parents and the RAF, bought a motor cycle which he kept hidden in the local village. His secret was revealed during the autumn of that year, when he crashed the motor cycle and broke his leg, effectively ending his apprenticeship. His father managed to stop him being thrown-out of the RAF, by making some assurances of his son’s future conduct and seeing to it that Paul was back at his workbench, complete with plaster-cast, just eight days after breaking his leg. He completed the rest of his apprenticeship without further drama and was posted as a fitter to 23 Sqn at Biggin Hill, Kent.
Now, aged twenty, Paul had matured into a tall, dashingly handsome, rash, carefree young man, who was very popular with the girls. Within two months his squadron was posted to the Middle East and Paul throughly enjoyed his 28 days embarkation leave, living life to the full as usual. On arrival in Palestine during early April 1936, he was transferred to 6 Sqn. at ramleh, where he maintained its Demon and Gauntlet aircraft. Some six weeks after his arrival he was admitted to Sarafrand Hospital with a case of ‘gippy tummy’.
Palestine offered Paul little in the way of ‘entertainment’ during his free time, so he took up horse riding at which he became quite accomplished. Good at his job and keen to advance, he was recommended for Pilot Training on 30th August 1938. He began his pilot training in August 1939 at 11 FTS RAF Shawbury. In october Paul met Peggy Young, a junior secretary for the Wandsworth Coke & Gas Lighting Company, at a dinner party and they began courting.
The recommendation for pilot training proved to be well founded, Paul completed his training on 27th January 1940 with an 86.5% pass mark and qualified as a Sgt. Pilot. Paul and Peggy discussed getting engaged but postponed announcing a date until the path of the war was to take became clearer. His friends often commented that Paul had ‘mended his ways’ and was now a ‘one woman man’. Sadly on the first day the squadron engaged the enemy, on 23rd May that year, over Dunquerque, Paul’s Spitfire GR-H, registration number P9373 was shot down.
Paul’s body lies in the village churchyard of Wierre-Effroy, Pas de Calais, France, close to where his aircraft crashed. Found by the eleven year old son of the village undertaker, who returned with his father and brother to the crash-site, took Paul’s body to the churchyard and with the local Priest, buried him. This “stranger” has never been forgotten by the villagers, his grave has been the focal point of their own ‘Remembrance Day’ ceremony ever since.
A mystery still surrounds Paul’s grave, until recently on every anniversary of his death, flowers have appeared on his grave, delivered by an unseen, unknown person. Local rumour has it that it was the local spinster, who’s sweetheart had never returned. Equally plausible is the theory that it could have been one of his many broken-hearted girlfriends. Either way this carefree, likeable young man’s ultimate sacrifice has never been forgotten.
With thanks to:
Michael Robinson: ‘Best of the Few’ ISBN 0 9540674 0 1