William Terence Montague Clark was born just outside of Croydon on 11th April 1919.
Having seen a recruiting notice at No. 615 Auxiliary Air Force, RAF Kenley – a succesful interview with the C/O in March 1938 saw Terry put forward for training as an Air-Gunner.
April 1940 saw Terry flying in Fairey Battles & the Bristol Blenheim before his posting to 219 Squadron at RAF Catterick on 12th July 1940 flying in the latter. 219 Squadrons primary responsibilities had been night operations which saw, in difficult conditions, a lack of engagement with the enemy.
The 12th October 1940 saw No. 219 Squadron moved further south to RAF Redhill and introduced to the Bristol Beaufighter. Terry now had to familiarise himself with airborne radar to detect the enemy, so trained as a Radio Observer before the squadron then moved to RAF Tangmere on the 10th December. His job now was to detect the enemy, track them and guide the pilot until he could see them to shoot them down.
Terry’s first success with the enemy came on the 16/17th April 1941. Called up to fly with 219’s C/O, Wg Cdr Pike, after his regular navigator was taken ill, Terry guided Pike to the interception and resulting destruction of a JU88 and He111. Not a bad way to introduce yourself to the Squadron C/O!
Further success came on 13th June 1941 when flying with good friend and regular pilot F/O Dudley Hobbis when they destroyed another HE111. Sadly Dudley was later lost during an Op when not flying with Terry, and which hit Terry hard as they had become very close.
Terry was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) for his success – gazetted on 8th July 1941, before a posting to 1455 Flight back at RAF Tangmere flying Havocs. During 1942-1944 Terry had further success in the Mosquito – a JU88 by chance where he was off duty, but volunteered to step in and help 488 (NZ) Squadron who had a Navigator fall ill.
He left the RAF in November 1945 as a Flight Lieutenant.
I was extremely fortunate to get to spend an afternoon with Terry at one of his very good friends, near York. It was a huge honour to chat to Terry for a few hours, and I even got to see and read his original logbook which was incredible. Terry was the last of the known UK based ‘Few’ I was still to meet, so it really was a special, personal occasion, and huge thanks to his great friend Steve for making it happen.
Tragically Terry sadly passed away on the evening of 7th May 2020, the night before the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. He had just turned 101 in April and his passing now leaves only Gp Cpt John Hemingway as the sole known surviving member of the Few.
A shame that sometimes the likes of Terry can get overlooked in context of the Battle of Britain – not having been a Pilot. To me, and thankfully many others, he and all his comrades were just as vital and deserve equal recognition – all incredible heroes to who we owe our freedom. Thank you Terry.