The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. W T Clark
William Terence Clark was born in Croydon on 11th April 1919.
His father was employed at the Croydon Gas Company, where Clark himself worked as a teenager, after a spell in a pawnbroker’s office on leaving school at 14.
He joined 615 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force at Kenley in March 1938 as an Aircrafthand. He trained and flew as an Air Gunner in Hawker Hectors on Army co-operation duties.
Called to full-time service on 24th August 1939, Clark remustered as an Airman u/t Air Gunner.
He completed his training and joined 219 Squadron at Catterick on 12th July 1940.
With the advent of the Beaufighter and airborne radar some of the air gunners of 219 were trained on radar with the squadron as Radio Observers. Clark qualified in this category.
On the night of 16th/17th April 1941 Clark flew with 219's CO, W/Cdr. TG Pike, when his own navigator was taken ill. They intercepted and destroyed a Ju88 and a He111 in the Guildford area.
During the night of 27th/28th April, flying with F/O DO Hobbis, his regular pilot, Clark assisted in the destruction of an unidentified enemy aircraft, on 1st/2nd June and 13th/14th June they shot down He111's.
Clark was awarded the DFM (gazetted 8th July 1941).
In July 1941 he was posted to 1455 Flight, then forming at Tangmere with Turbinlite Havocs. In May 1942 he went to 1451 Flight at Hunsdon on the same duties, locating enemy aircraft by radar in the Havoc, for accompanying fighters to attack and destroy. The scheme was not a success and was eventually abandoned.
Commissioned in May 1942 from Warrant Officer, Clark moved to 60 OTU in October 1942 as a Navigation/Radar Instructor. In May 1943 he was posted to 488 (NZ) Squadron at Ayr as Navigator to the newly-arrived 'A' Flight Commander, S/Ldr. DO Hobbis, his original pilot from 219 Squadron and 1455 and 1451 Flights.
On 20th December 1943 Clark was flying with P/O D Robinson when they destroyed a Me410 over Sussex.
At the end of his tour in March 1944 Clark went to North Weald Sector Operations, where he trained as a Controller. Whilst there he was given leave to visit 488, then at Colerne. He went to dispersal to see Robinson, now a Flying Officer. His navigator was unfit to fly and Clark offered to take his place.
On this sortie, a beachead patrol on the night of 28th/29th July, they destroyed a Ju188. Clark returned to North Weald next day.
He rejoined 488 in August 1944 but two months later went to RAF Honiley Ground Approach School, after which he took No. 1 GCA Unit to Prestwick, as second-in-command.
Clark was released from the RAF in November 1945 as a Flight Lieutenant. He had wanted to remain serving but failed a medical as he had become deaf in one ear, the result of fracturing his skull, supposedly when he fell off a bar stool.
Instead he served in the RAFVR from 1949 until 1954. He had married Margaret Hoskin in July 1944. At their reception at Beddington Park in south London the ceiling fell in as result of a nearby bomb explosion, but no one was injured because guests had moved to another part of the room to hear the speeches.
Postwar Clark worked for Crawford & Crian, a small civil engineering firm in Croydon, starting off as a clerical officer and ending up as company secretary. When the company folded in the early 1970s, he founded his own civil engineering firm but that foundered after a few years. He then worked in the accounts department at the London brewery of Courage & Co, before moving to York on retirement.
His wife died after a stroke in 2002, almost certainly a result of an earlier hit-and-run car crash near their home in York.
'Terry' Clark died on 7th May 2020 aged 101, leaving F/O JA Hemingway as the only survivor of the 'Few'.