War hero’s return to deadly Burmese crash site

Malcolm Cloutt
Malcolm Cloutt

A 93-year-old RAF war veteran is returning to the country where his entire crew was killed to pay homage to them.

Former pilot Malcolm Cloutt was in hospital when his crew died in Burma after crashing at sea in 1945.

Mr Cloutt, who now lives in Princes Risborough and is grandfather to 11, will be travelling with his daughter Christine, leaving on February 1 and spending two weeks in Sittwe, where he and his former crew served.

Mr Cloutt said: “In those days you got quite blasé about death because it was happening all around you.

“But in recent years I thought it would be nice to honour them in some way.”

The trip is being made possible thanks to a grant of more than £4,000 from Heroes Return, which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

The scheme was set up to help Second World War veterans go on commemorative visits.

After spending time in Burma, officially known as Myanmar, Mr Cloutt plans to visit the Kranji War Memorial in Singapore, on which are inscribed the names of everyone who died in the Burma campaign, including those of his crew.

He said: “I have been in touch with the local church in Sittwe and they will probably put on some sort of memorial.

“Those guys didn’t have a proper Christian burial because they crashed in the sea.”

Mr Cloutt served in the RAF from 1941 until 1946, seeing action on D-Day, the doomed Operation Market Garden to force an entry into Germany over the Lower Rhine and in Burma.

Mr Cloutt’s main role was flying in supplies for those in the field and taking out the wounded, and says his abiding memory of the war is the camaraderie among the men.

He said: “It sounds strange but most people say their war days were quite happy years.”

After leaving the RAF Mr Cloutt returned to his career as an accountant.

But he could not get the flying bug out of his system and joined the RAF reserves for five years, allowing him to fly on holidays and at weekends.

The father-of-two got married in 1947 but his wife died in 1970.

He re-married and went to live in Australia for 17 years, returning in 2002 after his second wife died.