LEST WE FORGET

Warrant Officer Eric George CLARKE

Service No: 404206
Born: Gympie QLD, 19 July 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 21 June 1940
Unit: No. 3 School of General Reconnaissance, RAF Station Squires Gate, Lancashire
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 3 School of General Reconnaissance Anson aircraft N5372), Northern Ireland, 18 October 1943, Aged 26 Years
Buried: Drumachose (Christ Church) Church of Ireland Churchyard, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Eric William and Olive Marion Clarke; husband of Vivian Myrtle Clarke, of Banyo, Queensland, Australia
Roll of Honour: Brisbane QLD
Remembered: Panel 120, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

At about 1940 hours on the 18 October 1943, Anson N5372 took off to carry out a night non-operational navigation B3 exercise. The aircraft crashed at 2115 hours in Ballycastle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Two of the crew were killed and two injures. The Pilot later stated: “On the last leg of the exercise, the aircraft was flying at 2,400 feet. It was however eleven miles to the starboard of track, a fact not known to the crew. I decided to descend to 2,000 feet to avoid another aircraft. We approached Knockgayd from the downwind side of the mountain, and the wind was 150 degrees at 35/40 kms per hour. There would have been an extensively strong down draft as we approached the mountainside. After the aircraft struck Knockgavd, emergency procedures were carried out and preparations were made for a ditching.”

The crew members of N5372 were:

Warrant Officer Eric George Clarke (404206) (Staff Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer J G Cooper (112371) (RAFVR) (Pilot) Injured
Flight Lieutenant J H Dunn (39813) (RAF) (Second Navigator Student) Injured
Wing Commander W R Heiler (P.0980) (Polish Air Force) (First Navigator Student)

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/7/222