CLARKE Sydney Campbell 427498

LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer Sydney Campbell CLARKE 

Service No: 427498
Born: West Midland WA, 5 April 1914
Enlisted in the RAAF: 19 July 1942
Unit: No. 8 Squadron, Tadji PNG
Died: Air Operations: (No. 8 Squadron Beaufort aircraft A9-630), New Guinea, 24 January 1945, Aged 30 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Sidney Walter and Elizabeth Clarke; husband of Jean Clarke, of Claremont, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Perth WA
Remembered: Panel 6, Lae Memorial, PNG
Remembered: Panel 99, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Flying Officer “Sammy” Clarke played 133 games of Australian Rules Football for the Claremont-Cottesloe Club, 8 for Western Australia and won the Sandover Medal for fairest and best player in the Western Australian National Football League in 1933 and 1934.

The RAAF rescue ship had been grappling with a breakaway convoy of American barges in the rough sea (near Wewak), and on a fruitless search for Flying Officer Sam Clarke’s Beaufort crew which had failed to return from a night mission on 24 January 1945.  Clarke, a former West Australian interstate footballer, with navigator Flying Officer Colin Shade and wireless air gunners Flying Officer Denis Gurney and Warrant Officer Allan Giles, had comprised a “new” crew, only recently from the South, and to whom local conditions were an unknown quantity.

Extract from Graham, B. (Burton) and Frank Smyth, A Nation Grew Wings: The Story of the RAAF Beaufort Squadrons in New Guinea, Winterset House Publishers Melbourne VIC, 1946 – Page 217

On 24 January 1945, Beaufort A9-630 failed to return from an anti-submarine patrol.  The crew members were:

Flying Officer Sydney Campbell Clarke (427498) (Pilot)
Warrant Officer Allan Francis Giles (404670) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Denis Albert Gurney (402595) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Colin Ritchie Shade (403398) (Navigator)

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 A9845, 264