Eric Clarke receives Bomber Command clasp on 100th birthday

Eric Clarke was presented with the clasp by Air Marshal Sir Dusty Miller

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A Bomber Command veteran has been honoured with an award and a flypast by a Lancaster bomber on his 100th birthday.

A civic reception was held for Eric Clarke from Doncaster, at the town's Mansion House.

He was presented with the Bomber Command clasp by the president of the Royal Air Force Association, Air Marshal Sir Dusty Miller.

Mr Clarke said of his time in the RAF: "I was scared to death of course."

"All these things I've lived through, done it, and I managed to survive it," he said.

Bomber Command

AVRO Lancaster Bomber
  • Unit formed in 1936. During the war it was tasked with attacking Germany's airbases, troops, shipping and industry.
  • A total of 55,573 of its airmen died in World War II. Their average age was about 22
  • The first "thousand-bomber raid" was in May 1942, three months after Arthur "Bomber" Harris was made commander in chief
  • The famous Dambusters raid of May 1943 struck at dams surrounding the Ruhr Valley

Source: BBC History

Mr Clarke volunteered for Bomber Command in 1940, and was accepted as a wireless operator and air gunner. He was promoted to flight lieutenant towards the end of World War II before becoming an instructor at RAF Finningley.

After the war, he helped set up the Doncaster branch of the RAF Association.

'Long time coming'

His son, David Clarke, said: "At 27, he was one of the older ones to volunteer. He wanted to be a navigator, but they would only take grammar school boys.

"At first he was in a Hampden bomber, then he was based at [RAF] Scampton with 49 Squadron on Manchesters, and then on Lancaster bombers."

The Bomber Command clasp was introduced in February, following a review of military decorations by former diplomat Sir John Holmes, who concluded that Bomber Command had been treated "inconsistently" with their Fighter Command counterparts.

Mr Clarke said his father's award had been "a long time coming".

He added: "Really Churchill let them down at the end of the war. The Bomber Command clasp is still not a medal, it's really a compromise, but it is recognition."

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