LEST WE FORGET

Flight Lieutenant George John Isaiah CLARKE

Service No: 119
Born: 22 October 1907, Location Unavailable
Enlisted in the RAAF: Date, Location Unavailable
Unit: No. 9 Squadron (HMAS Australia Detachment), RAAF Station Richmond NSW
Died: Air Operations (No. 9 Squadron Walrus aircraft L2247), off Dakar, French West Africa, 25 September 1940, Aged 33 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of George Thomas Mitchell Clarke and Elizabeth Clarke; husband of Ellen Elizabeth Hope Clarke, of Strathfield, New South Wales, Australia. Graduate of R.A.N. College, Jervis Bay. Held Navigator’s, Wireless and Engineer’s licences, Civil Aviation, Sydney to New Guinea and Rabaul service.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 1, Malta Memorial, Malta
Remembered: Panel 99, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Rathmines Memorial Bowling Club, Rathmines NSW

Australia opened fire at 9.04 a.m. at a range of 26,000 yards; and at her third salvo her amphibian aircraft, which had been catapulted to spot fall of shot, reported a straddle. Australia was herself under accurate fire from the French cruisers, though one shortly ceased shooting for a period and then resumed raggedly. Stewart believed Australia obtained a hit in this exchange. “Three independent observers reported seeing a pillar of flame and black smoke shoot up. This would probably also account for the cruiser’s shooting falling off.” The engagement lasted from 9.04 to 9.17 a.m., and about halfway through, as Australia, steaming at 25 knots was swinging to her helm when reversing course at the end of a run past the target, she was twice hit aft. The hits, by 6-inch shells, caused no casualties, and only slight structural damage in the officers ‘ galley and an engine room store. At 9.16 a.m. Devonshire signalled “Cruisers withdraw”. It was during the withdrawal that Australia suffered her casualties. From the bridge an aircraft astern was seen to be shot down; but not until later was it learned that it was the cruiser’s amphibian Walrus, which was lost together with its crew.

Extract from Gill, G.H. (G. Hermon) Royal Australian Navy 1939-1942, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1957 – Page 219

The crew members of Walrus L2247 were:

Petty Officer Telegraphist Colin Kenneth Bunnett RAN (17469) (Wireless Operator)
Flight Lieutenant George John Isaiah Clarke (119) (Pilot)
Lieutenant Commander Francis Kevin Fogarty RAN (Observer)

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9300, CLARKE G J I
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line

Bibliography:

Gillett, R. (Ross) Wings Across the Sea: the first ever complete history of naval aviation from the first world war to the present, Aerospace Publications, 1988