Brave and distinguished servicemen Flight Lieutenant Eric Clarke died at 102 in Doncaster (UK). He was part of the Bomber Command during World War II. As a RAF bomber’s crew member his role was as wireless operator and air gunner. He took part in 26 bombings raids across the Channel over 15 months from 1941-42, risking his life on all these occasions. He flew aboard the Hampdens and Manchester bombers on his early sorties, and later he flew aboard onto “very famous” Lancaster bombers carrying out his last 12 missions, The Star reports.
Flight Lieutenant Eric Clarke, 99, shares his memories of Bomber Command. Picture: Liz Mockler D2738LM [Via]
He had very good luck, because at this time most air crew survived little more than 7-8 weeks at that time. In an interview with the Free Press in 2012, Mr Clarke said: “We had to deal with fatalities and tragedies on a daily basis, sadly. I returned safely - and I consider myself very lucky.” In that interview, Mr Clarke spoke about his experiences during the war. Flt Lt Eric Clarke said his role, during the raids, had been to provide vital navigational information to the pilot - and despite a few near misses, he returned safe and sound from each and every one of his missions. His yellowing but immaculate log book, which still takes pride of place at his home, saves each detailed in pristine handwriting, Doncaster Free Press reports.
Flt Lt Eric Clarke, pictured in 2012 [Via]
He was also part of the so-called thousand bomber raids on Cologne when wave after wave of British bombers pummelled the German city and also flew a daring nine-hour low-level daylight mission to Milan to bomb the Italian city’s marshalling yards. During the latter years of the war, he became an instructor. He was an active member of the Bomber Command Association.