Crew: Clarke

Clarke portrait
Ernest Sumner Clarke

Pilot: Ernest Sumner Clarke
Flight Engineer: Richard Venville Thomas Bowerman
Navigator: Eric James Lovelace Carpenter
Bomb Aimer: Norman Charles Law (RAAF), known as “Shorty Law”
W/Op: George Ridley
M/U Gunner: Eric Thomas Charles (RAAF)
Rear Gunner: Roger Perryman Wishart (RAAF)

30 January 1944, shot down by night fighter, North Holland. The entire crew was killed.

For Dutch eyewitness reports of the crash, see this page: Crew: Clarke, Dutch Eyewitness Report

The crew are all buried at Barsingerhorn (Kolhorn) General Cemetery in the Netherlands. 


Clarke was one of the second pilots on Black Thursday and won a mention in despatches for his flying skills in landing Cawdery’s Lancaster (see Crew: Cawdery)


See also Clarke as a boy on this page: The Lure of Flying

From the ORB
30/31 January 1944 – Berlin
JB535Q  F/L E.S.Clarke, Sgt R.V.Bowerman, P/O E.J.Carpenter, F/O W.C.Law, Sgt G.Ridley, P/O T.E.Charles, F/L R.P.Wishart.  Up 1715 – missing.


Extract from Bomber Command Losses
Lancaster III  JB535  OF – Q.  Op Berlin.  T/O 1715 Bourn.  Believed shot down by a night fighter, crashing 2210 local time at Kolhorn (Noord-Holland), 7km ENE  of Schagen.  All were buried on 1 February in Barsingerhorn (Kolhorn) General Cemetery.  Sgt Bowerman was 18 years old, and if he was F/L Clarke’s regular flight engineer, had participated in 39 operational sorties.


 Details on the Loss of the Aircraft from Jan Nieuwenhuis

Type: Lancaster Mk. III
Registration: JB535 ‘OF-Q’ “Queenie”
Unit: 97 Squadron – 8 Group Bomber Command
Base: Bourn – Cambridgeshire
Remarks: When lost the aircraft had a total of 97 hours of flying time and it was one of two 97 “Straits Settlements” Squadron Lancasters lost on this operation.

Target/Mission: Berlin
Take-off date: 30-1-1944 at 17:15
Crash location: Noord-Holland province – At Kolhorn, about 6 kilometer east of Schagen.
Crash date: 30-1-1944 at 22:10
Casualties: 7 KIA
Cause: Shot down by a night-fighter, probably coming from Leeuwarden airfield (Friesland province).
Remarks: A wing and an engine were shot on fire which caused the wing to break of the aircraft; at the same time the aircraft exploded in the air.



Ernest Clarke, by his sister, Barbara

Ernest Clarke was born in Belfast on June 2nd 1921.   His father was a cashier in the linen business and a keen violinist; his mother had been a music teacher.   At school he excelled in Latin and Greek and should have gone to university (he lived in University Avenue!) but the family finances were very stretched, so he went to work for an insurance company when he was 15.   His older sister married and went to Canada where sadly she died of TB in 1941.  His younger sister is still alive and living in the Yorkshire Dales.
In spring 1939 when he was still 17, Ernest volunteered for the RAF, there being no conscription in Northern Ireland. He had never been to England; camping with the Boy Scouts had been his only introduction to life away from home. In the first months of training with No 2 Squadron, 3 I.T.W. at Hastings he developed physically as well as mentally, and rapidly became a very keen sergeant pilot.  Subsequently, he variously flew Ansons, Hampdens, Wellingtons and of course Lancasters and was with 144 Squadron (Hemswell & North Luffenham), No 14 O.T.U.(Cottesmore), No. 7 F.I.S.(Upavon) and finally with 97 Squadron with the rank of Flight Lieutenant. He was mentioned in Dispatches on 1 January 1942.


Known as Paddy in the RAF, he trained on Ansons and Wellingtons before starting his 200 hours Ops. on Hampdens. In the mess he was useful as the camp pianist – he could play anything by ear, and when on leave there were always great sing-songs at home.   As an Instructor he formed a great admiration for Australians and on his last flight, now as a Flight Lieutenant flying a Lancaster Bomber, he had an Anglo/Australian crew.   On leave just before this he brought his bomb aimer, “Shorty” Law, home with him and his last letter to his much loved mother was written just after that.

Written on 30 01 09, the 65th anniversary of the crash, by his sister Barbara.