CLARKE, Eric Hugh Paul AFC
- 30 years
- Wing Commander
- Hudson III, V9128
- 15th March 1942
- Allied Aircrew Memorial, Guernsey
A Roadstead mission was laid on for 15th March 1942 to attack shipping reported west of Cherbourg proceeding along the French coast in the Bay of St Malo, these had been spotted by a single Hudson aircraft of 233 Squadron. The new operation was known as Roadstead 16. 12 Spitfires of 118 Squadron, 12 Spitfires of 501 Squadron providing anti-flak cover and 12 Spitfires of 234 Squadron to provide high cover against enemy aircraft. These fighters were to provide fighter escort for 5 Hudson aircraft of 407 Squadron. The fighters all took off between 13.20 and 13.30. Two Me109’s were sighted South-West of Guernsey on the outward flight and chased by Blue Section of 234 Squadron.
It would transpire that unknown to the aircraft on Roadstead 16, a single Hudson was patrolling in the area, it had taken off at 11.45am from RAF St Eval and was a Hudson Mk III ZS-V V9128. Their mission was to locate and shadow enemy shipping. However, with so many aircraft in the area a number of fighter aircraft were scrambled from Guernsey to patrol and attack these aircraft.
Confirmation of what took place is recorded in the German records and confirms that at 15:00 hrs an enemy aircraft was shot down by a Guernsey based fighter to the north of Guernsey. The four crew of that aircraft were seen to have taken to their rubber dinghy, but a German rescue boat sent to the area failed to find them.
The crew of the Hudson Mk III ZS-V V9128 was:-
Wing Commander Eric Hugh Paul Clarke AFC (Pilot)
Sergeant David Wallace Dewar (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Arthur Herbert Hiles (Observer)
Pilot Officer Basil Leonard Francis Alfred Holland (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Basil Holland’s body was washed ashore at Portscatho near Falmouth on the 17th of May and that of Eric Clarke was washed ashore at Looe the day before. The two other crew members were lost. Holland’s body was taken to Portscatho Coast Guard Station and his funeral took place on the 23rd of May 1942.