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Forces War Records Blog


Lancaster - like the one Mr Clarke would have flown during WWII. From the Forces War Records Library Lancaster - like the one Mr Clarke would have flown during WWII. From the Forces War Records library

Blogger: GemSen Second World War Bomber Command veteran, Eric Clarke, has returned to the skies at the age of 100, just 24 hours after his grand birthday celebrations. Making the journey in a Cessna 172, Mr Clarke, a former Flight Lieutenant is the oldest person to fly with Waddington Flying club, based at RAF Waddington. He is also believed to be the oldest surviving veteran of Bomber Command, which controlled the nation’s bombing operations between 1936 and 1968. Mr Clarke, from Carcroft near Doncaster volunteered for Bomber Command in 1940, and before being promoted as a Flight Lieutenant started off as a wireless operator and air gunner. When war was over he helped set up the Doncaster branch of the RAF Association. The Cessna 172 must have felt very different to the heavy Lancasters that Mr Clarke used to fly in World War II, but he said that the sights and sounds brought back many happy memories. As part of birthday festivities on Monday 22 April, a civic reception with a flypast was held for Mr Clarke and he was also presented with a Bomber Command clasp by the president of the Royal Air Force Association, Air Marshal Sir Dusty Miller. Recently introduced in February, The Bomber Command clasp was initiated after a review of military decorations by former diplomat Sir John Holmes, who concluded that Bomber Command had been treated "inconsistently" with their Fighter Command counterparts. Until the Bomber Command clasp was introduced, the 125,000 men who made up Bomber Command had received no official thanks for their bravery during the Second World War. Bomber Command suffered a higher casualty rate than any other part of the British military during the Second World War and almost half of those serving with Bomber Command died, many killed by night fighters and anti-aircraft fire in raids over occupied Europe. As reported by the BBC, Mr Clarke was asked about his time in the RAF to which he replied:
"I was scared to death of course. All these things I've lived through, done it, and I managed to survive it," he said.
Take a look at the Forces War Records historic document library for documents related to Bomber Command and the RAF. Source thisisLincolnshire and BBC News
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