A J Clarke

service number J/16641  
Previously served with 10 Squadron  
Date Type Aircraft Flight Squadron Crew No. Notes
13/09/1942 Halifax II W1177 Tobruk 462 ME 15  
15/09/1942 Halifax II W1177 Shipping Tobruk 462 ME 15  
17/09/1942 Halifax II W7716 Tobruk 462 ME 15  
19/09/1942 Halifax II W7716 Tobruk 462 ME 15  
22/09/1942 Halifax II W7716 Shipping Tobruk 462 ME 15  
25/09/1942 Halifax II W7671 Shipping Tobruk 462 ME 15  
27/09/1942 Halifax II W7716 Shipping Tobruk 462 ME 15  
29/09/1942 Halifax II W7716 Shipping Tobruk 462 ME 15  
05/10/1942 Halifax II W7716 Tobruk 462 ME 15  
21/10/1942 Halifax II W7659 Maleme Aerodrome 462 ME 15  
28/10/1942 Halifax II W7702 Air test 462 ME 15  
29/10/1942 Halifax II W7702 Maleme Aerodrome 462 ME 15  
02/11/1942 Halifax II W7702 Maleme Aerodrome 462 ME 15  
05/11/1942 Halifax II DT498 'Battle Area' 462 ME 15  
06/11/1942 Halifax II DT498 'Battle Area' 462 ME 15  
08/11/1942 Halifax II W1174 Halfaya - Capuzzo area 462 ME 15  
10/11/1942 Halifax II W1174 Tobruk 462 ME 15  
12/11/1942 Halifax II W7756 Derna - Cyrene area 462 ME 15  
18/11/1942 Halifax II W7758 Air test 462 ME 15  
02/12/1942 Halifax II DT501 Heraklion Aerodrome 462 ME 15  
08/12/1942 Halifax II W7755 Transit to Kasfareet 462 ME 15 Drop off W/C Seymour-Price
08/12/1942 Halifax II W7755 Transit to Fayid 462 ME 15  
08/12/1942 Halifax II W7755 Transit to Kilo 40 462 ME 15  
08/12/1942 Halifax II W7755 Transit to LG167 462 ME 15  
11/12/1942 Halifax II DT501 Air test 462 ME 15  
14/12/1942 Halifax II DT501 Transit to Kilo 40 462 ME 15 plus 10 passengers
Jack Clarke was born in Montreal in 1921. His teenage years were spent on the south coast of England, attending the Southampton School of Art on scholarship. Returning to Montreal, he worked for Associated Screen News as a commercial artist. In September 1940, at the height of the Battle of Britain, he volunteered to fly with the RAF. He was sent to Scotland to train as a bomber pilot. Because "Jack" came over the radio like a crack of static, he was nicknamed "Johnny." September 1941 saw him posted to Yorkshire with #10 Squadron. His first raid was to Nuremberg on the night of October 12.
The Battle of the Atlantic raged in 1941 and 1942. U-boats - including U-96, the one in DAS BOOT (the best submarine film ever made) - were penned at St. Nazaire, France. Clarke raided St. Nazaire and the U-boat yards in Bremen, Kiel, and Wilhelmshaven.
The great German surface raiders were the Bismarck, the Scharnhorst, and the Gneisenau. The Bismarck was sunk in 1941. The Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau were called "the ugly sisters" because they attacked together and sank 22 ships, including an aircraft carrier. On February 12, 1942, they survived the Channel Dash back to Germany.
On the night of February 26, Clarke raided Kiel to destroy the Gneisenau. Bombing the bow section took the battleship out of the war. That helped end the German surface threat in the Atlantic.
The Thousand Bomber Raid on Cologne (Operation Millennium: May 30, 1942) was a turning point in the air war. It was followed by similar raids on Essen (June 1) and Bremen (June 25). Clarke flew in all three.
LOG BOOK July 1942: "Attached to Middle East Command (16 days?)"
After a lengthy tank battle known as "the Cauldron," Field Marshal Erwin "The Desert Fox" Rommel's Afrika Korps seized the British stronghold of Tobruk on June 21. A Roman fort on the caravan route in biblical times, Tobruk was a crucial supply port in North Africa. The retreating British Eighth Army (including "the Desert Rats") dug in at the bottleneck coastal railway station of El Alamein to make a last stand. A war machine runs on oil. If El Alamein fell, Rommel would take the Suez Canal to dominate the Mediterranean, and press on to capture the rich oil fields of the Middle East. On June 30, he attacked El Alamein.
In total secrecy, #10 Squadron dispatched 16 Halifaxes and crews to the Holy Land. Landing at Aqir, Palestine (now Tel Nof Airbase in Israel), and raiding from "advance bases" in Egypt, Clarke and crew attacked Tobruk repeatedly from July 12 on, bombing the harbor, jetties, and warships to cut Rommel's supply line to the First Battle of El Alamein, July 1-27, 1942.

An advance base was little more than a tent in the desert. Clarke and crew lived with their plane. Water was in short supply.


462 Squadron briefing at Fayid, Egypt September 1942 (A J Clarke 3rd right)

logbook page showing the raid 13th September


The Second Battle of El Alamein began on October 23, 1942. In preparation, Clarke and crew struck the Luftwaffe airfield in Maleme, Crete, then joined the conflict.

On November 11, the day after their last raid on Tobruk, the fortified port was recaptured.
The retreat of the Afrika Korps was one of the longest in history. They followed the route of the Jews, Romans, and Christians in biblical times, and the Muslims and Crusaders in the Middle Ages. Many consider El Alamein the turning point in the War. As Winston Churchill put it, "Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat." On November 10, he said, "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
For Jack Clarke, after 47 ops, that was the end of combat. His "16 days?" in the Holy Land had stretched to eight months. In March 1943, he returned to Yorkshire to train other pilots.
Crew 15, 462 M.E. Squadron
Rouse, Clarke, Hughes
Walker, Hallas, Williams
written by Michael Slade