The de Havilland
Bill Clark was nearly 19
in the summer of 1939 when he spent many hours watching over the hedge
at Gravesend, Kent
as the Tigers of 20 ERFTS flew their circuits and bumps, dreaming of the day that he could take his place in the air.
In June 1940 that dream became reality as he commenced his RAF training.
He trained on the Tiger Moths at 7 EFTS, Desford, a few miles west of Leicester. He fought in the desert,
was shot down in his 274 Sqn Hurricane over Libya on 28th January 1942 and spent the rest of the war
in various German prisoner of war camps, ending up in Stalagluft III until it was liberated.
Bill recorded his wartime memoirs in his book, 'One of the Many who Followed The Few'. It is an extraordinarily detailed,
meticulously-written and compelling 230-page account of Bill's wartime RAF flying career.
For a copy, please contact the Club.
960839 Flight Sergeant Clark, 1941
In Bill's own words:
a "flying/aviation mad keen eighteen-year old", I spent many an hour on
the outside of Gravesend airport watching the newly formed 20 ERFTS Tigers
performing and it was this that induced me to apply to the RAFVR to train as a Pilot at Gravesend's sister airport, Rochester, also in Kent.
I was successful in my application but it was not until WWII was underway that I was called to commence my flying training on Tigers.
By this time most training establishments had moved away from the southern part of England and so I trained in the Midlands at Desford EFTS
on the western side of the City of Leicester.
At the end of my training in various other places in the UK I flew off the aircraft carrier Ark Royal in a long-range Hurricane Mk II to Malta
and later went on to join other Fighter Pilots in squadrons in the Egyptian and Libyan Deserts in 1941/42.
As you would expect I am now a 92 year old person but still very much interested in all things aviational concerning WWII."
Bill Clark (left) as a PoW
The photo was an official German one but Bill was able to get a copy with three British cigarettes.
"When one was missing/taken
prisoner/KIA log books were sent to Records if in UK or other records'
offices abroad; in my case, Cairo HQ.
I applied for mine just after "The Suez Affair/War" and was informed that all the records in Egypt had been left there and were no longer available.
Hence I have no record of any of my flying hours which is most annoying. I managed to get some pages of the Canadian, Wally Conrad,
as I was trying to get the serial numbers of the Hurricanes we had flown. My being shotdown and missing is recorded in a publication by Shores and Ring
"Fighters Over The Desert" printed in 1969 by Neville Spearman Ltd. London. This book is a compilation of the records of the squadrons of the RAF,
the Luftwaffe and the Italian Air Force from June 1940 to December 1942."
Bill and Vera on their engagement day.
Bill in the restored Hurricane
IIc that he helped to restore at Rochester, Kent over the period 1986-88,
just before its handover to the museum at RAF Manston.
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